PARKLAND Tamaqua's entire girls' team and Northwestern's Trey Shackleton were the local highlights from day two of the District 11 AA Swimming Championships, held at Parkland Area High School. Shackleton was the lone TIMES NEWS area athlete to come away with an individual gold medal and move on to the PIAA State Swimming Championships in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Tamaqua head coach Ashley Stanek was beaming with pride, as her girls team finished second in the team standings for the silver medal in the overall competition. Their 220.5 points was a far second to Southern Lehigh's dominant 514, however it was still an accomplishment for the squad.
Twenty minutes before his race began, Northwestern junior Trey Shackleton could be seen poolside, jittery with excitement, unable to keep still. Ten minutes before the 500 freestyle, he was positioned behind his starting block, staring at the pool. As the heat before his finished, Shackleton was ready…ready to prove his abilities in the pool and take another gold.
With his race in the 200 freestyle the previous day being won by Southern Lehigh's Josh Kreider, he knew this was the last chance he would have to potentially win, qualify automatically for the state meet in two weeks, and continue his scholastic swimming career for a few more days.
When the starting gun sounded, he was off, and four laps into the 20-lap race, he was already a full body length ahead of his next closest competitor. Not only was he attempting to duplicate his performance from a year ago, and hopefully improve upon his district record he achieved, but he also had an even loftier goal in mind.
"I was trying to hold pace to go 4:29," said Shackleton. "That's what I needed to win Swimmer of the Meet. It was kind of a stretch, and I was shooting for it, but I kind of went out a little too fast, even to get that time."
That's the kind of athlete Shackleton is. Winning isn't enough for him. It isn't enough to shatter his record from a year ago by more than two seconds, but he wished to be named the entire meet's Most Valuable Swimmer.
Instead, he earned the respect of those in attendance by pulling away from the pool of challengers in his 500 freestyle race, as he bested Salisbury freshman Mahlon Reihman by more than 12 seconds to take the gold.
"I think overall, the meet went pretty well in terms of my splits in my races," he admitted. "I'm not tapered yet and I had a pretty hard week in training this week. But it's a pretty good indication of how well I could do when I am at states."
The Lady Raiders earned enough individual points to defeat third place Moravian Academy (3rd with 207 points) and take home the team silver. Senior Joann Butkus had plenty to do with her team's success, as she anchored the second-place 400 freestyle relay and also garnered second place in the 100 Breaststroke race. Teammate Rebecca Kanaskie also took fourth in that same event and was a member of the afore-mentioned relay, as well.
"We never know what to expect at this meet each year, but this year, we didn't really focus on the team finish. I just tried to focus on each of our individual swimmers and hope for the best from there," head coach Ashley Stanek said. "For most swimmers on the team, it worked out well this season. They stepped up, they worked hard, and they achieved their goals."
Meanwhile, Marian freshman Katie Kurzinsky turned some heads with an impressive third place showing in the 100 Backstroke race.
"It was nerve-racking to go up against older swimmers, and I think I was the only freshman in that heat, but I think it was a good race. I paced myself well and it was a good swim," Kurzinsky smiled.
There were a few other noteworthy finishes to be mentioned, as Kanaskie wasn't the only local athlete to finish just outside of the top three in an event.
Timmy Dando of Marian took fourth in the 500 freestyle, with Northern Lehigh's Jose Avila coming in just behind him in the same event, for a fifth.
Jake Kropp also took a fourth, as he finished off his senior season with a strong showing in the 100 meter backstroke final.
On Friday, five Tamaqua swimmers broke previous school-records, but the Raiders' Ben Turrano's record-breaking feat was mistakingly left out of the TIMES NEWS coverage of the event. Turrano broke the 100 Butterfly record with a time of 57:02.
DISTRICT 11 AA SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
(at Parkland Area High School Natatorium)
Allentown Central Catholic (ACC), Bethlehem Catholic (BC), Blue Mountain (BM), Mahanoy Area (MA), Marian Catholic (Mar), Moravian Academy (MA), Northern Lehigh (NL), Northwestern (NW), Salisbury (Sal), Saucon Valley (SV), Schuylkill Haven (SH), Southern Lehigh (SL), Tamaqua (Tam), Weatherly (Wea).
(top three finishers; other local finishers)
100 Free – 1. Sydnee Karam (BC) 52.97, 2. Jenna Forrester (SL) 53.29, 3. Jill Spirk (SV) 55.53; 17. Makayla Boyle (Tam), 21. Amber Gulick (Tam);
500 Free – 1. Colleen Daday (ACC) 5:00.84*, 2. Abigail Thomson (MA) 5:10.26, 3. Makena Glemser (SL) 5:21.56; 8. Miranda Amey (Tam), 17. Nichelle Pucklavage (Tam);
100 Back – 1. Rhyan Rodriguez (SL) 58.43, 2. Madison Amann (SL) 59.46, 3. Katie Kurzinsky (Mar) 1:02.53; 13. Makayla Boyle (Tam);
100 Breast – 1. Raechel Rodriguez (SL) 1:07.43, 2. Joann Butkus (Tam) 1:07.58, 3. Caroline Madigan (SV) 1:08.54; 4. Rebecca Kanaskie (Tam), 6. Angelina Krupko (Mar), 18. Amber Gulick (Tam);
400 Free Relay – 1. Southern Lehigh (Amann, Glemser, Rh. Rodriguez, Forrester) 3:40.57, 2. Tamaqua (Amey, Danielle DeCindio, Kanaskie, Butkus) 3:45.34, 3. Moravian Academy (Kyra Manson, Zoe Manson, Devon Korhammer, Thomson) 3:46.18;
(top three finishers; other local finishers)
100 Free – 1. Josh Kreider (SL) 46.28*, 2. Jon Anderson (Sal) 46.30, 3. Daniel Weeks (MA) 48.22; 9. Jake Kropp (Tam), 16. Jake Wenzel (Tam);
500 Free – 1. Trey Shackleton (NW) 4:39.04*, 2. Mahlon Reihman (Sal) 4:51.73, 3. Gavin Gunkle (SL) 4:53.93; 4. Timmy Dando (Mar), 5. Jose Avila (NL), 11. Matt Stanek (Tam) 5:27.42, 20. Damon Gulick (Tam);
100 Back – 1. Ethan Stinner (ACC) 55.71, 2. Jarod LaSelva (BC) 56.00, 3. Mark Boran (BM) 56.05; 4. Jake Kropp (Tam), 15. Keith Cullen (Wea);
100 Breast – 1. Nathaneal Marino (BM) 1:00.83, 2. Craig Weeks (PA) 1:01.05, 3. AJ Oliver (Sal) 1:03.50; 10. Jacob Sirkot (Wea), 15. Patrick McMullen (Tam), 16. Wyatt Delans (NL),
400 Free Relay – 1. Salisbury (Anderson, Tim Costantini, Tyler Lesko, Mahlon Reihmann) 3:12.66, 2. Southern Lehigh (Trevor DeCastro, Mitchell Stayer, Gunkle, Kreider) 3:14.47, 3. Allentown Central Catholic (Gabe Castano, JJ Apostolico, Stinner, Jimmy Gallagher) 3:24.20; 7. Tamaqua (Ben Turrano, Stanek, Wenzel, Jake Kropp).
* - denotes a new D-11 AA record.