The Mount swim team’s Class of 2017 was honored at last week’s Senior Night meet. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last winter Mount St. Joseph lost its annual swim meet against Gwynedd Mercy Academy for the first time in many seasons. Gwynedd used a relatively small group of very talented swimmers to accomplish that feat, and although some of the Monarchs’ elite performers are still on this year’s team, there were not enough of them to overcome the Mount Magic’s team depth.

Gwynedd won seven of the 11 events in last Monday’s meet at Arcadia University, but the Magic supplemented its four first-place showings with eight seconds and seven thirds to capture a 97-73 victory. Mount St. Joe improved to 3-1 in Catholic Academies dual meet competition, and got back into positive territory overall, at 4-3.

The Mount was missing one of its top performers in senior sprinter Katie Schaefer, a Providence College recruit. She was in class during the day but then went home sick, causing Magic coach Janet Pudlinski to scribble some changes on the team’s line-up sheet.

Unfortunately, Schaefer missed not only the meet itself, but the Senior Day celebration held during a break in the action. The other MSJ seniors are Sam Bauer, Aly Carpenter (Ole Miss), Grace Comerford (Virginia – rowing), Susanne Kushnerick, Hannah Soisson and team manager Adriana Formica.

Following a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem by Mount junior Audrey Trullinger, Monday’s meet got underway with a strong Gwynedd performance in the 200 medley relay. Winning in one minute, 52.20 seconds was the quartet of senior Steph Szekely, sophomore Annie O’Dare, junior Alaina Zaki, and freshman Nicole Sasso.

Beginning a pattern that carried through much of the meet, the Mount snapped up the next two places, with sophomore Bryn McLaughlin, juniors Taylor Draganosky and Rebecca Patti, and freshman Holly Householder taking second, and junior Meredith Killian, Comerford, sophomore Hailey Goodyear, and Bauer in third.

The Monarchs went one-two in the 200 freestyle, where the victorious Szekely (1:57.30) was backed up by freshman Aileen Murray, who in turn was followed by MSJ sophomore Shayne McKernan in third. A time of 2:11.67 won the 200 individual medley for Gwynedd’s O’Dare, but the Mount was right back there in second and third thanks to Draganosky and Comerford.

Without the latest aquatics electronics unavailable, the meet was conducted in an old-school manner. Parents were drafted to run stopwatches, and when the electronic starting device wouldn’t work, one of the meet officials produced a freon horn.

The Magic nailed down the top two spots in the 50 freestyle, as junior Jen DeGroat won in 25.59 and freshman Kristen O’Connor was runner-up. Sasso secured third place for Gwynedd Mercy, but the Mount edged ahead in the meet team score, 32-30.

Goodyear gave the Magic a winning effort in the butterfly in 1:04.09, with second and third going to Zaki and senior Emily Gregor of the Monarchs. Next, a one-two-three sweep in the 100 freestyle boosted the Mount’s margin into double figures, 53-41. DeGroat notched her second win (56.00), and was followed to the wall by O’Conner and Carpenter.

Murray, the Gwynedd freshman, won the 500 free in 5:46.80, but here again the Mounties finished second and third, courtesy of junior Cathryn Antonacio and Kushnerick.

A one-two outcome in the 200 free relay really put Mount St. Joe in control. The winning time of 1:44.38 was turned in by DeGroat, McKernan, Carpenter, and O’Connor, and in the second spot Householder and fellow freshman Mae Sweeney teamed up with Killian and Antonacio.

Gwynedd then had Szekely take the back stroke (57.83) and O’Dare win the breast stroke (1:06.74), but in both races, the Mounties came up with second and third once more. It was Patti followed by McLaughlin in the back stroke, and Draganosky and Comerford in the breast stroke.

Gwynedd fired its big guns one last time to win the concluding 400 freestyle relay, but the Magic already had an insurmountable 91-65 lead going into the race. Zaki, O’Dare, Sasso, and Szekely prevailed in 3:48.41, while DeGroat, Carpenter, O’Connor, and Patti were second for the Mount, and Householder, Kushnerick, Antonacio, and Draganosky came in third.

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