SOUTH WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP - Friday evening at the District 11 Class AA swimming championships, Northwestern's Trey Shackleton needed to track down three swimmers to win his first gold medal.
Saturday, he had nothing to chase but history.
The sophomore swimmer, competing in his first district meet, rewrote the record books with an impressive swim in the 500 free to earn another trip to the top of the podium at Parkland High School.
Shackleton joined Palmerton's Sawyer Allen as area swimmers earning gold medals. Tamaqua's Jake Kropp and Palmerton's Katie Pielmeier both took silvers, as did the Tamaqua girls' 400 free relay team.
"It's definitely crazy at districts," Shackleton said. "There's a lot more attention on fast times. Club meets, if you swim a fast time, everyone just says, 'Wow, that's a fast time,' and they leave it at that.
"Here, you go a fast time and everyone's congratulating you; and all the officials are congratulating you and all the coaches; you're getting interviewed. It's just different."
Shackleton, who attends PA Cyber School and lives in Hynemansville, had a completely different race to set his second district record in as many days.
Rather than using a late final kick to overcome the field, he used it to lower the mark set by Saucon Valley's Zach Oatis in 2011 by almost two seconds. Shackleton didn't have a 50 split over 30 seconds to swim his 4:41.90 time. His 26.8 seconds in the final 50 was his second fastest of the 10 splits.
"I like long events where I can take my time and make sure that I'm on pace," Shackleton said. "I don't have to worry about what other people are doing and just am able to swim my own race."
Meanwhile, Allen defended his title in the 100 breaststroke, besting Blue Mountain's Nathanael Marino for the second straight year. The Blue Bomber senior was also the leader throughout, finishing the race in 1:00.31.
"Really the strategy was simple this year," Allen said. "Get in. Go fast. Make sure everything's good and go fast to the wall. Simple as that."
Allen finished third in the 200 IM on Friday night on the strength of his breastroke - he was the only competitor to break 36 seconds in that 50 - and was smooth in his signature event on Saturday. He'll be making his fourth trip to the state meet, held this year at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium on March 13-14.
While his winning time was a career-best, Allen hopes to knock out another goal at the state meet.
"I was a little disappointed in my time because I wanted to go under a minute," Allen said. "But that's what states are for, so we'll go faster there."
Tamaqua junior backstroker Jake Kropp's second place time of 59.44 just missed the cut for a state spot. But regardless, Kropp was happy to set a personal best and top rival Billy Sieck of Schuylkill Haven for a silver in the 100 back.
Kropp was one of three swimmers to break a minute to capture his first District 11 medal. Salisbury's Connor Harrison won gold and Sieck took the bronze.
"I train really hard year round, but I would never expect to pull off
something that great," Kropp said. "To see [my time] feels so amazing because you know you worked hard for it."
A day after going toe-to-toe with Southern Lehigh's Rhyan Rodriguez to win gold in the 200 IM, Palmerton senior Pielmeier lost a touchout to Rhyan's younger sister Raechel Rodriguez in the girls 100 breast.
Pielmeier extended her arms a half-stroke earlier than Rodriguez hoping to get to the wall first, but finished six hundreths of a second off the gold medal time.
"I think if I would have taken another stroke my time would have been slower than what I had," Pielmeier said. "I knew how close we were and it was going to be a good one to the finish."
The Tamaqua girls' 400 relay team capped their team's meet with a silver medal performance in the final event.
Miranda Amey, Danielle DeCindio, Caroline Kanaskie and Joann Butkus finished a second and a half behind Southern Lehigh in a time of 3:44.01. They were over four seconds ahead of third-place Moravian Academy.
The silver was a great end for Amey, who showed the power of the taper.
Earlier in the morning, the Tamaqua junior added her second individual fourth place medal of the meet, this time in the 500 free. Amey knocked 13 seconds off her seed time to complete the meet's longest event in 5:29.27.
After shaving seven seconds off her 200 IM seed time on Friday night, Amey entered Saturday with plenty of confidence.
"I had a really good taper, obviously it really worked," Amey said. "Yesterday was a complete shock to me and I came into today with the same attitude I had yesterday. I wasn't nervous, I was more excited. I knew this was my race and I put up my best time ever."
Districts champs each earn automatic trips to states, while some qualify on times. Sunday morning, the PIAA released those qualifiers, which included the Tamaqua 400 free relay, Pielmeier in the 100 breast and Butkus in the 50 free.
The Tamaqua girls finished third in the team standings with 210.5 points. Southern Lehigh was first with 552.5 and Blue Mountain took second.
The Salisbury boys won their second straight District 11 title with 479 points. The Falcons' Jon Anderson, Tim Costantini, Garrett Collins and Eric Tatum put an exclamation point on the meet by dropping an eye-popping three seconds off their 400 free district record time from 2012, finishing in 3:13.03.
Tatum won the Dennis A. McGinley Award as the boys' swimmer of the meet. He was gold medalist in the 100 free and 100 fly, where he's the defending state champion. Bethlehem Catholic's Sydney Karam won the girls McGinley Award after setting a district record to win the 200 free on Friday and winning the 100 free on Saturday.
Class AA Swimming Championships
At Parkland High School
(Top three plus local finishers)
1. Southern Lehigh (SL) 552.5, 2.. Blue Mountain (BM) 221, 3. Tamaqua (T) 210.5, 4. Moravian Academy (Mor) 181, 5. Salisbury (Sal) 171, 6. Allentown Central Catholic (CC) 169, 7. Saucon Valley (SV) 118, 8. Schuylkill Haven (SH) 110, 9. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 89, 10. Mahanoy Area (MA) 48, 11. (tie)Palmerton (Palm), Pen Argyl (PA) 37,13. Tri-Valley (TV) 26, 14. Notre Dame Green Pond (ND) 25, 15. Nortthern Lehigh (NL) 24, 16. Marian (Mar) 15
100 free - 1. Sydnee Karam (BC) 52.47, 2. Lake Duffy (PA), 3. Jenna Forrester (SL), 9. Danielle DeCindio (T), 18. Amber Gulick (T);
500 free - 1. Abigail Thomson (MA) 5:06.15, 2. Emily Lyons (SL), 3. Danielle Guttman (Sal), 4. Miranda Amey (T), 17. Nichelle Pucklavage (T);
100 back - 1. Rhyan Rodriguez (SL) 59.8, 2. Madison Amann (SL), 3. Sarah Lyons (SL), 6. Caroline Kanaskie (T), 8. Sabrina Krupko (Mar), 17. Makayla Boyle (T);
100 breast - 1. Raechel Rodriguez (SL) 1:08.35, 2. Katie Pielmeier (Palm), 3. Caroline Madigan (SV), 11. (tie) Carly Trovinger (T), 16. Emily Bumbulsky (T), 21. Amber Gulick (T)
400 free relay - 1. Southern Lehigh (Rhyan Rodriguez, Emily Lyons, Makena Glemser, Madison Amman) 3:42.53, 2. Tamaqua (Miranda Amey, Danielle DeCindio, Caroline Kanaskie, Joann Butkus), 3. Moravian Academy.
1. Salisbury (Sal) 479, 2. Southern Lehigh (SL) 331, 3. Moravian Academy (Mor) 199, 4. Allentown Central Catholic (CC) 195, 5. Schuylkill Haven (SH) 176, 6. Blue Mountain (BM) 172,, 7. Pottsville (Pot) 128, 8. Tamaqua (T) 110, 9. Saucon Valley (SV) 85, 10. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 50, 11. Northwestern (NW) 40, 12. Palmerton (Palm) 36, 13. Pen Argyl (PA) 28, 14. Weatherly (W) 23, 15. Mahanoy Area (MA) 4
100 free - 1. Eric Tatum (S) 46.99, 2. Josh Kreider (SL), 3. Michael Anderson (SL), 14. Jake Kropp (T), 21. Ethan Eberts (T), 22. Jake Wenzel (T);
500 free - 1. Trey Shackleton (NW) 4:41.9*, 2. Gavin Gunkle (SL), 3. Tim Costantini (Sal), 11. Matt Stanek (T);
100 back - 1. Connor Harrison (Sal) 57.86, 2. Jake Kropp (T), 3. William Seick (SH), 13. Jacob Sirkot (W);
100 breast - 1. Sawyer Allen (Palm) 1:00.31, 2. Nathanael Marino (BM), 3. Craig Weeks (PA), 7. Alex Sirkot (W), 20. Gage Whalen (T), 21. Patrick McMullen (T);
400 free relay - 1. Salisbury (Jon Anderson, Tim Costantini, Garrett Collins, Eric Tatum) 3:13.03*, 2. Southern Lehigh, 3. Moravian Academy, 7. Tamaqua (Gage Whalen, Matt Stanek, Jake Wenzel, Jake Kropp).
* - new District 11 record