Swimmers head for states

Members of the Northgtae-Avonworth swim team, which had great success in WPIAL competition and will now compete at the state level, are: front, from lef, Aidan Sommers, Nick Madey, Maura Scrabis, Luke Tomzack; Back, Zech Boyce, Ava Groll, Anna Wagner, Anders Ove, Luke Wagner, Karen Siddoway, Bree Nowka. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

The boys as well as the girls on the Northgate-Avonworth swim team scored several impressive victories in WPIAL competition, finishing fourth overall out of 35 AA classification teams.

For the boys, the highlight of the meet came in its final event, the 400 freestyle relay, where the team of juniors Zech Boyce and Nick Madey, sophomore Aidan Sommers and freshman Luke Tomczak earned the school’s first-ever WPIAL swimming championship.

The group entered the race seeded seventh, but each posted personal best times to set a new team record of 3.22.26, beating their seed time by more than 12 seconds. The event started well for the team, as Sommers posted a new 100 freestyle team record in the lead lap. Tomczak and Madey maintained a slim lead going into the final leg, but the team was challenged by runner-up Elizabeth Forward the entire race and found themselves behind going into the last turn. Boyce, swimming the anchor leg, exploded off the final wall and sprinted to the finish, out-touching his opponent by less than a tenth of a second.

Boyce later recalled, “I was headed to the last wall and thought to myself, ‘Why are we settling for second? At that point, I just swam as hard as I could and knew that we could win.”

Earning the gold medal was not a complete surprise to the team, with Boyce acknowledging,
“When the seeding was announced, we knew if we all swam personal bests, we could have a chance at winning.” The win qualified the relay for the PIAA championships.

In the 200 medley relay, the team of Boyce, Madey, Sommers, swimming with senior Anders Ove to finish in 1:41.70, posted another new team record, good enough for fifth place and a spot at the PIAA championship. The 200 freestyle relay team of Ove, Tomczak, senior Quinn Theobald and freshman Luke Wagner finished in 19th place.

Great performances were also achieved in the individual events. Sommers, who earned the bronze medal in the 100 backstroke, broke his own team record and will swim the event again this year at states. He also finished 20th in the 50 freestyle. Madey dropped nearly three seconds off of his team record time in the 100 breaststroke to finish fifth and earn his first individual spot at states. He also set a new team record of 54.40 in the 100 butterfly, finishing seventh. Boyce broke his own team record in the 100 freestyle, swimming 55.01, good enough for seventh place. He also finished ninth in the 100 butterfly. Tomczak took nearly nine seconds off of his 200 individual medley seed time to finish in 19th place, and junior Richard Danylo, swimming in his first WPIAL championships, finished 25th in the 100 breaststroke.

Earning All-WPIAL Team were: Nick Madey: 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay; Zech Boyce: 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay; Aidan Sommers: 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay; Luke Tomczak: 400 freestyle relay; Anders Ove: 200 medley relay.
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The girls posted impressive wins, as well, qualifying for a school record 12 entries into the championships, earning silver and bronze medals in six events, and finishing sixth among the AA schools at WPIALs.
Leading the charge was sophomore Karen Siddoway, who finished the event with two silver medals in her individual events. Siddoway broke her own team record, posting a 51.56 to finish second in the 100 freestyle, and earning her a return trip to PIAA state championship competition. Siddoway also finished second in the 200 freestyle, posting a 1:53.34, an improvement of almost three seconds on her previous team record. She will also swim this event at states.

Senior Anna Wagner also earned medals in individual events, finishing sixth in the 50 freestyle and seventh in the 100 freestyle and giving her a chance to earn at-large invitations for these events at states.

In the other individual events, senior Maura Scrabis finished 13th in the 100 breaststroke and 15th in the 100 freestyle. Freshman Angie Paterini finished 24th in the 100 butterfly and junior Ava Groll finished 26th in the 100 butterfly.

The team also excelled in the relay events, earning two bronze medals. In the 200 medley relay, Siddoway, Wagner, Scrabis and Groll took almost six seconds off of their seed time to finish third, with a time of 1:52.84. In the 400 freestyle relay, sophomore Brianna Nowka joined Siddoway, Wagner and Scrabis to set a new team record time of 3.39.74, six seconds faster than their time at states last year. Both relays qualified for the PIAA championship. The team of Groll, Nowka, sophomore Chloe Cropper and freshman Juliette Boughton also competed in the 200 medley relay.

Earning All-WPIAL Team were: Karen Siddoway: 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay; Anna Wagner: 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay; Maura Scrabis: 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay; Ava Groll: 200 medley relay; Brianna Nowka: 400 freestyle relay.

Both the boys and the girls will next compete in the PIAA state championships at Bucknell University on March 15-16.