LEWISBURG — Wyoming Seminary’s first state championship. A come-from-behind victory on the last relay leg. The first Wyoming Valley Conference gold medal in a decade.
All of the headlines and jubilations came to an abrupt halt when a PIAA official barged into Wyoming Seminary’s post-race celebration on the pool deck with bad news. The Blue Knights’ winning 200 medley relay team was disqualified from the race.
The verdict: Marco Rico illegally used two dolphin kicks on his breaststroke leg.
Wyoming Seminary rebounded from a disqualification on the first race of the PIAA Class 2A Boys Swimming Championships to get a pair of bronze medals Thursday at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. The final day of competition will resume Friday afternoon.
“It’s tough,” Wyoming Seminary coach Philip Mercatili said. “It’s one of those things. It’s terrible when it happens any time. But when it is the first event. It’s our signature event. It’s the one we really focused on.
“I’m trying not to sound bitter — when you have a ticky-tacky call, when you win by as much as we did (1.5-plus seconds) and it was not the cause of that.”
Rico avenged his costly infraction with a third-place finish in the 200 yard IM. Rico started off in first place with a 24.46-second split that was a half-second ahead of the field. After giving up the lead at the midway point, the Spanish foreign exchange student stormed back on the breaststroke, his specialty. It was took much as Wyomissing’s Nathan Elzer and Big Spring’s Jarod Anderson passed him on the final heat. Rico finished with a 1:55.26 that was four-tenths faster than his best.
“I and the other guys had to rally him, get him ready to swim the IM,” Mercatili said. “He gave it everything he had. He had a further drop. He moved up two seeds, partially due to another DQ in the same lane.”
His teammate Stan Zaneski followed with a third place finish of his own. The Blue Knights’ senior sprinter dashed to a 21.09 second performance that surpassed his career best.
“I was not really hoping for much because I had some really great competition,” Zaneski said. “I had some high goals. I didn’t necessarily get them but I did very well today. So I’m enjoying it.”
During the team’s medley relay, Zaneski used heroics on his freestyle leg. Trailing by a quarter second, Zaneski swam his 50 free split in 20.68 seconds, more than a full two seconds faster than any of his competitors.
He said that the switched to a timed finals format from the typical preliminary-finals setup caused for added anxiety to the hectic week the team faced.
“When they announced that it would be a timed final, I was really upset by it,” Zaneski said. “Because prelims is great because you get two chances. You get to go in, do your race as best you can. And that’s where you work out the kinks for the race.”
Holy Redeemer sophomore Adam Mahler secured a PIAA medal with a seventh-place finish in the 100 butterfly. Against a tough field, Mahler was tied for sixth at the midway point and trailed off to take seventh with a time of 51.02 seconds that was 64-hundredths faster than his PR.
Wyoming Seminary stands 14th in the team standings with 32 points. Tunkhannock and Holy Redeemer are both tied for 25th place with 16 points.
PIAA Class 2A Boys Swimming Championships
Team Standings: 1. Grove City 122, 2. Cathedral Prep 106, 3. Salisbury 70, 4. Lower Moreland 67, 5. Clearfield 66, 14. Wyoming Seminary 32, 25. Tunkhannock 16, 25. Holy Redeemer 16, 43. Dallas 1
200 Medley Relay — 16. DAL (Mikail Krochta, Ryan Spears, Shane Szczecinski, Troy Reinert) 1:41.68
200 Free — 13. HR Adam Mahler 1:45.09
200 IM — 3. SEM Marcos Rico 1:55.26; 20. DAL Mikail Krochta 2:02.38; 26. SEM Yonah Wasik 2:03.89
50 Free — 3. SEM Stan Zaneski 21.09; 15. TUN Alex Bushre 21.7
100 Fly — 7. HR Adam Mahler 51.02; 23. DAL Troy Reinert 54.27; 30. SEM Garrett Pall 55.42
200 Free Relay — 1. TUN (Dyllan Henning, David Tidball, Mitch Fowler, Alex Bushre) 1:30.27