LEWISBURG — Don’t tell the boys on Tunkhannock’s state relay teams that had no business going where nobody believed they belonged.
For that matter, don’t doubt the Crestwood swimmers who went to states without a school team to swim for this year, either.
Tunkhannock’s 200 medley relay team pulled off a surprising run to a state medal Friday and fellow Wyoming Valley Conference competitors Josh Grzech of Crestwood and Matthew Edkins of Lake-Lehman also medaled during the opening day of the PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.
“We know we came here to compete,” said a defiant Matt Miller, who helped Tunkhannock’s two relays through the morning preliminaries and into the night spotlight, “whether anyone thought we did or not.”
Edkins finished eighth in the boys diving event after totaling 483.55 points. And Grzech earned a sixth-place medal in the boys 100 butterfly, after putting up a time of 52.41 in the championship race.
Those medals were pretty much expected, since both competitors were seeded among the top eight in their respective events entering the state tourney.
The move Tunkhannock’s 200 medley relay team was not.
Yet, the Tigers team of Jason Linden, Joe Moffitt, Miller and Stefen Sehne climbed into the medal race by moving from an 11th seed entering state competition to a seventh-place medal.
“We were seeded 11th,” Sehne said. “To come in seventh was a really big jump for us. It was just a lot of hard work. We were looking forward to this moment.”
That was impressive enough.
But what the school’s 200 freestyle relay team accomplished was even more astounding.
Seeded 23rd entering the preliminary round, that Tigers’ 200 free relay jumped into the consolation round with a strong preliminary swim, then closed out its eye-popping day by finishing 16th overall with a run of 1:32.52 in the consolation race.
“We figured we were going to turn some heads with that,” Miller said. “In districts, we went with a different lineup of swimmers in the 200 (free). We switched it up a little bit.”
That wasn’t the only race where a Wyoming Valley Conference entry pulled fast one.
Crestwood Chris Lukasewski entered state preliminaries seeded 32nd — dead last — in the 50 freestyle and wound up with an incredible surge that left him with a 14th-place state finish. In the process, he shaved .50 seconds from his District 2 time, and darn-near came out of the day with a state medal.
“A little better turn in the morning and he would have been in the finals,” said Wyoming Valley West coach Frank Tribendis, who allowed the Crestwood swimmers to work with his team during the past few seasons in the absence of a swim team at Crestwood. “He had a bad swim at districts — quite honestly, he was lucky to get out of districts. He was kind of like a diamond in the rough.
“No one knew about him.”
A few other swimmers from the Wyoming Valley Conference also had fine finishes.
In the girls Class 2A field, Pittston Area’s Mia Nardone finished 16th in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.06 while returning to the state consolation meet for the first time in two years — despite going through a difficult week mentally.
Dallas diver Patrick Madaya finished 12th overall with a score of 424.65, and Tunkhannock girls 200 IM competitor Morgan Manglaviti and Miller in the boys 100 butterfly narrowly missed the consolation cut, as both finished 18th.
“It was a disappointing finish in the fly, I didn’t do my best time,” Miller said. “But as a (relay) team, we did all right. That did make up for it.”