The District 11 Diving Championships had both exhilaration and disappointment for Emmaus divers.
On the girls side, freshman Jess Hurlburt captured first place and a spot in the PIAA Championships, which will be held next month at Bucknell University. On the boys side, Andrew Vanim made it look like Emmaus would have another champion, but struggles over his final three dives dropped him from first place to third, leaving him just short of a place at states.
The Parkland girls won their seventh straight conference title when they downed Emmaus 104.5-81.5 last week. That's the bad news for the Lady Green Hornets. The good news is that things could be starting to turn for Emmaus, which has a number of strong, determined swimmers working their way up through the ranks.
Perhaps the emerging young swimmers best showing of the event came in the 50 freestyle. While it was senior Claire Frank who won the event, freshman Lexi Ruth battled Parkland's Alex Bodnar to tie for second in the event.
There's an old adage that a draw is like kissing your sister. The Parkland and Emmaus swim teams know all about that feeling, since they seem to constantly split the conference championship, with the Emmaus boys and Parkland girls taking home titles.
The same thing happened last week when the Emmaus boys downed Parkland 111-75, while the girls lost to Parkland's girls 104.5-81.5 in the final regular season meet.
Coming into his first season as the head coach at Emmaus, Jeff Williams knew there were going to be some tough times. With the 22-game schedule completed and the team compiling a record of 4-12 in the EPC and 6-16 overall, things played out about how one might have been expected to go.
For six Emmaus seniors - Tori Bingham, Vinnie Cucchiara, Claire Frank, Theo McAllister, Carter Paules and John Woltornist - the home meet against Pocono Mountain East was their final dual meet in their home pool. The six were recognized for their performances over their careers during a break in the meet, which both the boys and girls teams won.
Paules made the most of senior day, tying a pool record with a time of 1:55.43 in the 200-yard individual medley, which was set by North Penn's Dominic Szabo in 2000.
You could say that Jenna Reid and Ashley Petre are in a class by themselves. The two players are the only seniors on the young Emmaus girls basketball roster and have played their part in helping younger players learn the ropes through what has turned out to be a difficult season for the team.
For Emmaus swimming, the perfection continues on the boys side (9-0), while the girls (7-2) have dropped two straight against tough teams. The boys easily picked off Liberty, 124-62, to give the Hurricanes their first loss of the season. On the girls side, the Hornets made a late surge, but came up short and fell to Liberty 96-90 as the Lady Hurricanes raised their record to 8-1 on the season.
The loss for the girls came on the heels of their loss to perennially tough Wilson-West Lawn three days earlier.
Yogi Berra is famous for telling reporters that baseball is 90-percent mental and the other half is physical. If Berra knows anything about swimming, he might make the same statement, which is something that coach Tim O'Connor constantly works on with his swimmers.
When O'Connor looks at Casey Young, he sees a lot of his younger self in her not just mentally, but as far as their build. Like Young, O'Connor was a muscular young swimmer in his high school days and had to find a way to handle the sport mentally.
Last year, Anna Overholtz provided Emmaus with a diver who could provide a legitimate challenge to some of the better high school divers in the area. Her accomplishments were the best that the program has seen in a while.
This season, two young divers are providing excitement on both the boys and girls side of competition and they proved it this past weekend with strong showings in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Diving Championship.
For the first time this season, Emmaus girls put together back-to-back wins, both against Eastern Pennsylvania Conference teams. Last week, Emmaus picked up a come-from-behind, 61-50 win over Allen and then put together an impressive 60-55 win over Liberty. The wins brought Emmaus' record to 5-7 on the season, but they were unable to stretch the streak to three games when they dropped a 38-33 nonconference game to Pennsbury.