Northwestern junior Madison Burns made earning gold look easy with her win in the 200 IM (2:06.13) Friday afternoon at the District 11 Class AA Championships at Parkland High School.
Choosing to focus on her aquatic club swimming and her national career for the past two years, Burns finally decided to enter districts this year for the first time as a junior.
"I wanted to try and see how it went," Burns said. "It's exciting and fun. I'm glad to be here. It was not my best time, but it was good for this meet."
Panther Valley senior Karoline Vavra took gold in the 50 freestyle (24.86) after coming into the meet seeded second.
Leading up to the race, Vavra was not feeling her best, suffering from back pain.
"To get in and swim so well today was such a relief," Vavra said. "All of the working through the pain helped in the end. I'm really excited and I can't wait to go to states."
The top finishers earn automatic berths to the state meet. Those swimmers who do not qualify by winning their event can still earn a spot if their district time is in the top 16 across the state amongst the other swimmers who did not earn automatic berths.
Swimmers will anxiously wait for the results to come in from across the state to find out if they qualify. Regarding relays, there are eight at-large bids available.
Both gold medal winners from Friday will swim against each other in the 100 breaststroke during the second day of competition. Burns is seeded first for the event (1:06.13), and Vavra is seeded second (1:10.66).
Other area swimmers earned district medals on Friday, which are given to the top four finishers.
The Tamaqua boys took third in the 200 medley relay (1:46.64). The team included seniors Dane DeWire and Nate Leibensperger, freshman Jordan Frank, and senior Sam Tuckett.
Tamaqua freshman Joann Butkus finished third in the 50 freestyle after being seeded first, but she remained very positive about her first day at the district meet.
"The seeds behind me were so close that it was anyone's race," said Butkus. "I was nervous all day. I knew I just had to relax and go by instinct. My body knew what to do, so I just had to go with that."
"There is nothing that went wrong," Butkus added. "My time was close to my lifetime best and everyone else just performed fantastically. I can't complain at all."
For Palmerton, sophomore Katie Pielmeier took third place in the 200 IM (2:13.32) while sophomore Sawyer Allen's performance in the 200 IM (2:08.66) secured him a fourth place finish.
The last medal winner on Friday from the local area was Matthew Cullen of Weatherly, who came in at 22.81 in the 50 freestyle to capture third place.
Cullen came into the district meet feeling healthy and prepared. The hard work and extra attention that he put into practice paid off for him.
"I was thinking mostly about my starts and my turns today," Cullen said. "We worked on that a lot at practice. During the race, I focused on a flat dive and a quick, snappy turn."
The remaining events of the district meet will take place Saturday at Parkland High School.
Team rankings, including last week's diving results through today's final race, follow.
DISTRICT 11 AA SWIMMING
1. Southern Lehigh 311, 2. Salisbury 139, 3. Allentown Central Catholic 136, 4. Moravian Academy 120, 5. Blue Mountain 116, 6. Tamaqua Area 97, 7. Saucon Valley 75, 8. Panther Valley 64, 9. Schuylkill Haven 57, 10. Mahanoy Area 45, 11. North Schuylkill 24, 12. Bethlehem Catholic 21, 13. Northwestern Lehigh 20, 14. Pen Argyl 17, 15. Palmerton Area 16, 16. Tri-Valley 15, 17. Marian 2
1. Southern Lehigh 253, 2. Allentown Central Catholic 172.5, 3. Salisbury 143, 4. Saucon Valley 140.5, 5. Schuylkill Haven 116, 6. Tamaqua Area 109, 7. Blue Mountain 77, 8. Moravian Academy 74, 9. Panther Valley 17, 10. Weatherly 16, 11. Palmerton Area 15, 12. Bethlehem Catholic 11, 13. Pen Argyl 1
200 Medley Relay - 1. Southern Lehigh (Amann, Carr, Lyons, Phillips) 1:51.06, 2. Moravian. (Korhammer, Thomson, Casciole, Rosenkranz) 1:56.91, 3. Allentown Central Catholic (Cameron, O'Neill, Snyder, Udicious) 1:58.18
200 Freestyle - 1. Katie Cialkowski (Salisbury) 1:53.95, 2. Abigail Thomson (Moravian) 1:54.42, 3. Gabby Guttman (Salisbury) 1:55.86
200 IM - 1. Madison Burns (Northwestern Lehigh) 2:06.13, 2. Rhyan Rodriguez (Southern Lehigh) 2:09.75, 3. Katie Pielmeier (Palmerton) 2:13.32
50 Freestyle - 1. Karoline Vavra (Panther Valley) 24.86, 2. Lake Duffy (Pen Argyl) 25.10, 3. Joann Butkus (Tamaqua) 25.28
100 Butterfly - 1. Sarah Lyons (Southern Lehigh) 59.43, 2. Emily Baumert (Salisbury) 1:00.13, 3. Natalie Snyder (Allentown Central Catholic) 1:02.09
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Salisbury (Gonoude, Guttman, Cialkowski, Baumert) 1:38.90 (New District Record), 2. Southern Lehigh (Rodriguez, Hogman, Lyons, Phillips) 1:40.44, 3. Blue Mountain (Greenawalt, Woleschok, Boran, Barrineau) 1:45.25
200 Medley Relay - 1. Southern Lehigh (Moyer, Ambrose, Geis, Linden) 1:39.14 (New District Record), 2. Allentown Central Catholic (Stinner, Fritz, Miksiewicz, Kugler) 1:44.76, 3. Tamaqua (DeWire, Leibensperger, Frank, Tuckett) 1:46.64
200 Freestyle - 1. Zachary Oatis (Saucon Valley) 1:45.60 (New District Record), 2. Ethan Stinner (Allentown Central Catholic) 1:50.65, 3. Garrett Collins (Salisbury) 1:50.72
200 IM - 1. Thomas Boran (Blue Mountain) 2:02.04, 2. Avery Soong (Saucon Valley) 2:04.86, 3. John Deutsch (Southern Lehigh) 2:06.85
50 Freestyle - 1. Jason Moyer (Southern Lehigh) 21.63, 2. Daniel Weekes (Moravian) 22.77, 3. Matthew Cullen (Weatherly) 22.81
100 Butterfly - 1. Riley Geis (Southern Lehigh) 53.47, 2. Eric Tatum (Salisbury) 54.40, 3. Colin Miksiewicz (Allentown Central Catholic) 55.82
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Southern Lehigh (Linden, Sikorski-Schneider, Ferraro, Anderson) 1:31.95, 2. Salisbury (Collins, Costantini, Anderson, Tatum) 1:32.04, 3. Schuylkill Haven (Spotts, Slotterback, Bayliff, Schultz) 1:33.83.