Swimmers impress at PIAA

Northgate-Avonworth swimmers (from left) Cooper Groll, Luke Tomscak, Karen Siddoway, Luke Wagner, Zech Boyce, and Nick Madey after their impressive showing at the PIAA state championship competition at Bucknell University last week.

Even though Northgate-Avonworth swim coach Jesse McKelvey admits that she and the team had hoped to finish in the top five in state competition last weekend, she believes that the team and individual swimmers “represented strongly” in an “overall solid meet.”

McKelvey explained that the girls' team was smaller than in years past, but “Karen Siddoway alone launched our team to 21st, overall, in the state with her swims. She held her place in prelims and brought it hard in finals and had two personal bests with a 1.50.45 in her 200, and a 50.88 in her 100, placing her second in 100 and the 200 freestyle.

McKelvey said that not only were those times Karen's fastest, but they also are consideration times for National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association's All-America standards.

“She's closing in as a junior. Her competitor in both was the same -- Hanna Everhar -- who is a senior. Both races were so close. We all could not be more proud of Karen's achievements.”

The boys, with their strong representations, placed seventh, overall, the team of Aidan Sommers, Nick Madey, Zech Boyce and Cooper Groll taking sixth in the 200 medley relay, and the team of Groll, Boyce, Luke Wagner and Luke Tomczak taking seventh in the 200 freestyle relay, with Groll, Tomczak, Sommers and Boyce finishing ninth in the 400 free relay.

In the boys' individuals, Madey placed 12th in the 100 fly and seventh in the 100 breast; Sommers placed 19th in the 100 back, and 21st in the 200 IM; Groll placed 23rd in the 100 free; Tomczak placed 24th in the 200 IM and Boyce placed 20th in the 200 free.

Looking back on the season as well as ahead to next year, McKelvey shared some very positive thoughts.

“I lose Zech and Nick, as they are seniors this year. I have had them since I started coaching Northgate, and it's hard to say goodbye to my first four-year group. They adopted my philosophies and understood my expectations and were strong leaders who will be hard to replace. But we still have Aidan, who is phenomenal with his skill and drive, and the Lukes have really stepped up this season and have more room to grow. Cooper gained a lot from his first season with us and I think he's looking forward to next season. The slew of freshmen that we gained this year will bring it as sophomores. I am confident the boys will still field a strong team for next year. The girls' team is gaining some strong contenders as well, and this will help cushion losing our senior girls Eleanor Hardiman, Ava Groll, and Katherine McFarland, who always brought solid swims and great leadership. Our girls are hoping to make a run for their own WPIAL title next season. We are all proud and excited with the team's achievements and the potential that next year brings.”

Sharing the views of her coach, Siddoway said, “I am super-happy with my times and can't wait for next season!”

Wrapping up this season, McKelvey said, “We really focused on bringing home that WPIAL title for the boys, and we trained for that meet, especially. I just wanted them to swim strong and bring whatever they had left to states and they did. A WPIAL title and seventh in the state? I can't complain!”