The 2011-2012 Philadelphia Catholic League swim season began this past December and ended with a very impressive showing at the PIAA State Championships on March 14-15. Through ups and downs, injuries and rumors of school closings, the PCL persevered and sent over 30 swimmers to the PIAA State Championships, which culminated in LaSalle High School winning the PIAA State Championship for the first time in school history. Here is a recap of how each local team fared this season.
Archbishop Ryan Girls
Archbishop Ryan, coached by Ed Macko, Bob Clothier, and Sarah Macko, had a year for the record books. The girls finished with a 6-1 record, their only defeat coming in a narrow exhibition loss. At PCL Championships, AR took home the crown for the 3rd consecutive year and garnered 11 All Catholic selections, the most of any girls team in the league. All Catholic honorees included senior Sarah Hammer, juniors Katie Conallen, Jackie Rose, Emily Dougherty, Nora Jackson, Brianna Marano, and Kara Waninger, sophomores Maria Rocchi and Mary O’Leary, and freshman Shea McKinstry. Hammer, who will be attending Temple University next fall had a perfect meet, with four 1st place finishes. Ryan Girls were also the recipients of the inaugural Fante Cup, awarded to the winner of the 200 Medley Relay and named after Lou Fante, longtime PCL Assignor and teacher at Ryan who passed away last year. This was one of three relays Ryan won at the meet, completing a clean sweep of the relay events, a testament to their talent and depth.
At PIAA District 12 Championships, the Ragdolls had another repeat performance as they took home the District 12 AAA Championship for the 3rd year in a row. Ryan’s impressive performance resulted in bids to state championships in an astounding 6 different events. Finishing out the season at PIAA State Championships, the Ragdolls had an impressive showing with strong swims all around, capped off by Maria Rocchi placing 16th overall in the state in the 100 Breaststroke.
This season was just as special out of the water as head coach Ed Macko surpassed the 100 victory mark. Macko, an English teacher at Ryan, began coaching the Ragdolls in 1997 and has won 9 PCL titles and 3 PIAA District 12 titles. He holds among his favorite memories the 2002 PCL Championship in which his oldest daughter Melanie was team captain, winning the 2004 National Catholic High School championship, and when his youngest daughter Sarah began coaching on his staff in 2009.
Little Flower, coached by Sean Clothier and Matt Snyder, enjoyed its most successful season to date. LF had over 50 entries to their Top 10 Times list and had 9 of 11 team records broken. Attending the Stroudsburg Winter Classic, the Sentinels finished 4th, their highest finish at this meet to date. Competing at PCL Championships, All Catholic honors were awarded to seniors Megan Moffett and Megan Oxley, sophomore Sarah Coleman, and freshmen Brianna O’Donnell and Ally McHugh. Moffett, who will be swimming for Kutztown University next fall, was a two year captain and an integral part of the team’s success. Oxley, who will be attending Millersville University, was also a captain this year. Coleman, of Resurrection of Our Lord parish, achieved personal best times in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle. O’Donnell continued her very impressive freshman season with a huge time drop in the 200 IM, finishing 6th overall. McHugh, of St. Jerome, made quite a statement with her swims at this meet, taking home the PCL title in both the 100 Freestyle and the 100 Breaststroke. These performances, combined with personal best swims from Sandy Spreckley, Melissa Waskiewicz, Rose Pisacano, Kerri Flanagan, Becky Burns, Amber Adair, Gianna LoRusso, and Jess Seiple paced the Sentinels to 4th place overall, their highest PCL finish ever.
Little Flower continued their trend of high finishes at PIAA District 12 Championships, where they finished 3rd overall, their highest finish ever in any championship meet. Hard work, mental discipline, and a ‘never quit’ attitude resulted in personal best swims for Rachel Wisniewski, Emma Coyle, and Caitlyn Coleman, who dropped over 3.5 seconds in her 100 Butterfly. McHugh continued her winning ways, taking home the District title in the 200 IM and the 500 Freestyle, in the process becoming the first swimmer in LF history to qualify for PIAA State Championships.
Capping off Little Flower’s best season at PIAA State Championships, McHugh was originally seeded 29th in Preliminaries in both of her events. In the 200 IM, she passed 11 swimmers to finish 18th overall, qualifying for Finals as an alternate. In the 500 Freestyle, she would pass one swimmer to finish 28th. McHugh would be the only girls swimmer from District 12 to improve her placement in both of her events.
When summing up this past year for St. Hubert, two words spring to the minds and mouths of everyone in the PCL, heart and determination. It’s hard to argue that any one team in any sport faced the challenges that SH did. Not only was there an entirely new coaching staff this season but there also was the emotionally crushing announcement that their beloved school was closing, all of this compounded by the loss of their top sprinter Katie MacFeeters to a knee injury. While it would have been easy to ‘just packed it in’, the new coaching staff, consisting of Melissa Krupa and Jen Salwach, implemented new workouts and brought with them a fresh breath of enthusiasm, rallying the team in the process.
The level of school spirit, hard work, and dedication displayed was something to behold. At PCL Championships, sophomore Jillian Salwach took home 1st Place overall in the 200 IM and 2nd place overall in the 100 Butterfly, gaining All Catholic honors in both events. Impressive time drops were recorded by seniors Erin Donnelly, Megan Ferry, Lauren Parker and Katie MacFeeters, who was able to return to action in time to qualify for championships, as well as juniors Julie Bradley and Lauren Cione, and freshman MaryAnn White. All of this hard work culminated in St. Hubert finishing 7th overall in the PCL.
Finishing out the season at PIAA District 12 Championships, the Bambies continued the trend of strong swims that they began at PCL Championships. Salwach, a sophomore from St. Timothy, led the way with a 2nd place finish in the 500 Freestyle and a 3rd place finish in the 100 Butterfly. Time drops by freshmen Katie Bamberski and Caitlyn Anderson, seniors Erin Adelsberger and Rachel Jonas helped lead SH to a 5th place overall finish in PIAA District 12. Adelsberger had an especially impressive meet, dropping time in both of her individual events and Jonas capped off a great high school career with a 5th place finish in 100 Breaststroke.
Father Judge, with new head coach Kyle Kenny at the helm, had a very successful season. Coach Kenny, along with assistants Ross Muldoon, Justin Donahue, Drew Williams, and Tom Muessig led the Crusaders to a 6-2 record in the PCL regular season. In January, Judge won the Stroudsburg Winter Classic for an unprecedented 13th consecutive year, where senior captain Jake Harner received Swimmer of the Meet honors. The Crusaders had a very strong showing at PCL Championships, where All Catholic honors were awarded to Harner, Chris Gleason, Jeremy Lahn, and Andrew Petrosky. In addition to this, strong time drops were recorded by senior Joe Long, sophomore Bob Boyle, and freshmen Ryan Murray, and Joe Fitzgerald. Harner, who will be swimming for Bloomsburg University in the fall, led Judge with a 2nd place finish in the 100 Freestyle and the PCL title in the 100 Breaststroke, his second career PCL title.
Taking part in the annual PIAA District 12 Championships, Father Judge improved on their PCL performance with a very impressive showing. Again, Harner set the tone with a 3rd place finish in the 200 IM and a 2nd place finish in the 100 Breaststroke. Also for the Crusaders, TJ Wilson, Jon Buerle, and Joe Barclay all had impressive time drops. These clutch swims helped Father Judge finish 3rd overall at PIAA District 12 Championships.
On the heels of his impressive breaststroke and 200 Individual Medley swims, Harner qualified for PIAA State Championships where he shocked the crowd at Bucknell by moving up from 4th place before Preliminaries to 1st overall heading into 100 Breaststroke Finals. His time of 56.28 was a new Father Judge team record and good enough for 3rd overall in the state, Judge’s highest finish ever.
Archbishop Ryan Boys
Coach Frank Morris and the Raiders experienced another successful season as Ryan Boys finished the regular season with a 4-3 record in the PCL. Led by seniors Nick Angeny and Billy Urban, the Raiders finished 3rd overall at PCL Championships. Angeny and Urban, along with fellow seniors Joe Yost and Jake Marker, as well as sophomore Paul Rocchi were awarded All Catholic honors at this meet, where they finished 4th overall in the 200 Medley Relay
Moving on to PIAA District 12 Championships, Ryan had another solid showing. Highpoints included the team taking 3rd place in the 200 Medley Relay, Urban taking 4th overall in 100 Freestyle, and Angeny taking 6th in the 100 Breaststroke.
These two Raiders, on the strength of their strong swims at District Championships qualified for PIAA State Championships. Held at Bucknell University over a two day period, Urban would go on to finish 27th overall in the 100 Freestyle and 19th in the 50 Freestyle, capping off a very successful high school career. Angeny would also go on to finish 19th overall in 100 Breaststroke, part of a very strong contingent of District 12 swimmers in that event.
St. Joe’s Prep
St. Joe’s, under the direction of head coach Paul Morrissey, had yet another productive season. The Hawks finished the regular season with a record of 5-1 in the PCL, their only defeat coming against LaSalle. All Catholic honors were awarded to Garrett Knauss, Logan Knauss, Kevin King, Tim Koenig, Shane McKenzie, Pat McVan, Joe Petrone, Grant Proctor, Murphy Smith, and Ryan Heib at this year’s PCL Championship. On the heels of this impressive performance, SJP would finish a strong 2nd overall in the PCL, scoring more than twice as many points as their nearest competitor.
Competing at PIAA District 12 Championships, the Hawks would again have strong performances all around and finish 2nd overall and qualify seven swimmers for PIAA State Championships. Highlights included Petrone winning the District title in the 500 Freestyle, McKenzie taking 3rd in the same event, Smith taking 3rd in 100 Backstroke, and King taking 4th in the 100 Butterfly.
Closing out the season at PIAA State Championships, St. Joe’s had impressive swims from Smith in the 200 Freestyle, finishing 22nd overall, Proctor qualifying for Finals in the 200 IM and finishing 7th overall, McKenzie finishing 16th in the 200 IM and 20th in the 500 Freestyle, and Logan Knauss finishing 15th overall in Boys 1 meter diving,
To sum up LaSalle’s season in one word, historic comes to mind. Following the leadership of head coach Frank Lichtner, LaSalle had what one could argue was its most successful season ever. The Explorers enjoyed an undefeated regular season leading up to the PCL Championships. LaSalle would go on to win 7 of 11 events outright on its way to its 25th consecutive PCL Championship. All Catholic honors were received by Vince Everman, Evan Holder, John P Kelly, Brendan Koch, Joe Maginnis, Luke Maguire, Michael McBryan, Sean Regan, Greg Rogers, team captains Eric Schultz and Chris Szekely, Charles Formica, Colin Happ, Kyle McElewee, Jim Palmer, Rob Speese, Scott Stone, and Tom Walker.
Following up on that tremendous performance, LaSalle had an even better showing at PIAA District 12 Championships. Here, the Explorers took home the District title with an outstanding 10 of 11 events won outright. Highlights included the 100 Backstroke where LaSalle placed four out of the top five finishers, the 100 Freestyle where the Explorers had the top three finishers, and 100 Butterfly where they again took four out of the top five places.
Now LaSalle was headed to the meet they had been preparing for since last year, the PIAA State Championships. Last year, the Explorers finished 2nd overall behind Hershey. This year, LaSalle was bringing a great deal of depth to the meet, as they had many state championship qualifiers, based on their wins at District 12 Championships and their fast times. There was much buzz surrounding this meet as numerous coaches from District 12 were on hand to watch what could be a history making meet. In the very first event of the championship finals, the 200 Medley Relay, LaSalle and Hershey would be neck and neck until the butterfly leg where Hershey began to pull away. Hershey, with an almost body length lead looked to have the race won. Someone must have forgotten to tell Greg Rogers that, as he took off at a blistering pace, chasing down the Hershey relay, closing out the race in exciting fashion, touching them out at the wall for the win. LaSalle’s remarkable swim in that race also resulted in a new state record, breaking the one set last year by the Explorers. The sheer amount of quality depth that LaSalle had proved to be too much for the rest of the state as they progressively pulled away from the rest. Entering the second day of the meet, LaSalle held an over 85 point lead on their nearest competitor. The Explorers continued to rack up points in each event, culminating in a runaway victory for LaSalle in the 400 Freestyle Relay, firmly putting their stamp on the meet. As it was announced, LaSalle swimmers and coaches alike celebrated in the pool and on deck, proud of their accomplishments, becoming the first PCL team in history to capture the PIAA State Swimming Championship.EndFragment