LEWISBURG — It wasn’t as shiny as a medal that would have reflected his fourth-place seeding and it wasn’t as gaudy as the record-setting performance he accomplished at districts.
But to Matthew Edkins, the eighth-place medal he earned during Friday’s opening day of the PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving championships had a gleam that made him beam.
“I feel very good about my overall score,” Edkins said.
That was the general attitude of a group of athletes from the Wyoming Valley Conference, who wound up sprinkling in a few surprises with the admirable consistency most of them showed.
That started with Edkins, a Lake-Lehman diver who set a new District 2 Class 2A standard by accumulating 483.55 points while winning a gold medal in the district meet.
He didn’t quite match that mark at states, but his score of 413.20 points in boys diving put him up on the PIAA medal stand for the third consecutive year.
“I’m very happy with his performance,” Lehman diving coach Erin Yurko said. “The competition is tough. The top eight are really the same kids we have seen since Matt was a freshman. And everybody’s getting better. Fifth through eighth place was very close.”
Indeed, just 3.75 points separated Edkins from fifth-place finisher Nick Crouse of Allentown Central Catholic, who wound up with a score of 416.95. With a couple more points on one of his 11 attempts during the state event, Edkins may have finished near the No. 4 seeding he had entering the competition.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Edkins, a junior and a state bronze medal winner in 2013 who wowed the judges and attained a 50-point score with his final dive of Friday’s consolation round. “I’m glad I was able to come back and do this well again.”
Crestwood senior Josh Grzech also made a return to the medal stand, taking sixth place in the boys 100 butterfly with a swim of 52.41 in the championship race. That moved him up a few slots from last year, when he finished eighth in the same event.
“I was hoping for a little bit better,” Grzech said. “But I left everything out there, and I’ll take sixth any day. I can always complain — it wasn’t my best time. But I’m happy. I’m tired and I left everything out in the pool. I’m just happy and thankful I was able to make it. I’m happy to medal again.”
He added one more Saturday, swimming to the medal round of the 100 freestyle.
Tunkhannock got a surprise medal out of its boys 200 medley relay team, which finished seventh with a time of 1:40.93 after entering as an 11th seed. And its 200 freestyle relay team made a stunning move from a 23rd seed (in a field of 24 teams) to finish 16th. Tigers seniors Matt Miller and Jason Linden swam on both.
“Real nice day for us,” said Stefen Sehne, who anchored Tunkhannock’s medalist relay team. “First state medal, it’s a real good day.”
“I knew coming in what our errors were,” Miller said. “We knew we could make up time. A lot of our time was made up on exchanges. We worked hard on that.”
It showed, particularly in the medley relay, where the Tigers moved from 11th to eighth by the end of morning preliminaries, then jumped up another spot in the consolation meet.
If the event extended to a few more relay swims — who knows? — the Tigers may have battled their way to the top of the state.
“They’ve set high goals, and they’ve been going after them all year long,” said Tunkhannock coach Tim Mislevy, whose squad captured the District 2 Class 2A team championship. “One of their goals was to make the top eight. We had the consolations last year, and they wanted to have a chance to medal. They accomplished that.
“They’ve been focused, worked hard.”
Crestwood’s Chris Lukasewski worked his way from a 32nd seed — dead last — all the way to the consolation race of the 50 freestyle and a 14th-place state finish. And Pittston Area junior Mia Nardone overcame a week of emotional distress — her mom was hospitalized before the state tournament — and made a gritty return to consolations in the 100 butterfly after just missing the state’s night races last year.
“She didn’t quite make it last year. This year, she did,” Pittston Area coach Amy Hazlet said. “I’m really happy she did as well as she did. We were excited she was able to get back to the consolations this year, just happy with her performances this year — another personal best, 59.67, a new school record.
“She strives to get better every year. I’m thrilled.”