by Tom Utescher
Mount St. Joseph Academy won the diving competition and two individual events, but in the Magic’s last swim meet before the Christmas break, host Hatboro Horsham produced first-place finishes in the other nine events last Tuesday afternoon. Seven second-place outcomes and seven thirds for Mount St. Joe kept the contest reasonably close, but the Hatters led start to finish en route to a 104-81 decision.
The Magic went into the Christmas break with a 2-2 record overall; they had opened with a loss to formidable North Penn, then defeated Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and Catholic Academies rival Nazareth Academy.
The Mount’s “home” facility at La Salle High School does not have a diving board, but junior Emily McMullen gets to perform on the spring board at most away meets. She bested three divers for the host team last Tuesday, scoring 181.5 points while the runner-up from Hatboro Horsham, Kayla Czplicki, totaled 129.55.
Senior Steph Eble, a team tri-captain along with classmates Georgia Kelly and Haley Sannem, won the 500-yard freestyle in five minutes, 33.11 seconds, while freshman Taylor Dragonosky was third in that race, at 5:41.34. The other win for the Mount came in the 100 butterfly courtesy of sophomore Katherine Schaefer, who touched up at 1:02.06.
Both Mount St. Joe and Hatboro Horsham had been part of a large field of teams at the Upper Dublin Invitational, which had taken place three days earlier at the high school of the same name. MSJ head coach Janet Pudlinski said the Magic had been peaking for that event, looking for times that would qualify swimmers for the PIAA postseason meets. In fact, Schaefer set new Mount St. Joseph school records there in the 50 freestyle (25.30) and the 200 free.
“We’d had two big meets in a row, so we were a little bit off today,” commented Pudlinski, noting that just before the Upper Dublin gathering the Magic had raced league opponent Nazareth, winning on the final relay race for the third straight year.
The Hatboro Horsham meet, the coach continued, was “a good opportunity to see how some of the girls who had great swims on Saturday came back and swam today. It was my first chance to see the freshmen in that situation and they held up well. This was also the first meet where there wasn’t a boys meet going on at the same time, so the races today were closer together.”
It didn’t help that one of her senior captains wasn’t completely healthy.
“Haley Sannem is sick, so she was battling just to be in there today,” Pulinski revealed. “Liz DeGroat [a junior] had a good meet on Saturday, and she came back and swam well today. She’s a tough competitor.”
Sannem was still able to snag second place in the 100 back stroke with a time of 1:05.23, coming in behind the Hatters’ Haley Sutton (1:01.68), who was also the victor in the 50 freestyle (26:05).
DeGroat swam in all three relay races, and individually she placed second in both the 100 free (56.73) and the 200 individual medley (2:20.67). Her sister Jen, a freshman, was one spot behind in the 100 free, in 58.12. The younger DeGroat also finished third in the 50 free (26:36) behind Sutton and Colleen Claggett (26.25) of the host team.
Hatboro Horsham’s Barbara Schmele won the I.M. in 2:17.80, and the 100 free was won by Hatter Perie Sumner (56.34), who also took first in the 200 free (2:03.36), ahead of MSJ’s Schaefer (second in 2:04.98) and Eble (third in 2:06.45). Both Mounties had gone under two minutes in that event at Upper Dublin.
The Magic received third-place showings in the aforementioned 100 back stroke (freshman Rebecca Patti in 1:05.68) and in the 100 breast stroke (junior Julia Comerford in 1:15.52. The winner in the breast stroke was Hatboro Horsham’s Sam Schmidt, in 1:11.22.
In the 200 medley relay, Hatboro Horsham won in 1:53.84, while the Mount was second in 1:57.71 with the quartet of Sannem, Comerford, Liz DeGroat and Jen DeGroat. The Hatters also finished first in the 200 free relay (1:43.94) and the 400 free relay (3:49.86).
In the 200, Liz DeGroat, junior Katie Zimmerman, Eble, and Schaefer were second for the Magic in 1:44.10, and in the 400, Mount St. Joe took second place with Schaefer, Liz DeGroat, Patti, and Eble (3:59.03), and third place with freshman Cathryn Antonacio, Dragonosky, and sophomores Aly Carpenter and Sam Bauer.
It’ll be a few weeks before the Magic resume interscholastic competition, but they won’t be sitting idle.
Pudlinski declared, “They’ll be in the pool, they’ll be running in Valley Green, they’ll be in the weight room. Christmas is my time to beat them up – they have time to get in the training that we can’t do with our normal schedule.”