SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP – Palmerton's Karl Pielmeier watched his sister Katie shave nearly nine seconds off her seed time and finish second in the 200 IM at last night's District 11 Class AA swimming championships at Parkland.
That left only one way for the older brother to get bragging rights in his house - claim gold against his competition in the boys individual medley.
Thanks to a surge in the breaststroke leg and a strong closing kick in the freestyle, Pielmeier claimed his first District 11 title, topping Saucon Valley's Avery Soong by nearly two seconds for the gold.
"I knew the breaststroke was going to make it or break it," Pielmeier said. "I worked a lot in training on the back half of the race and it paid off."
After the first 100 yards of the race, Pielmeier held a slim edge over Soong. He opened up a more comfortable lead, besting the Saucon sophomore by nearly 0.6 seconds in the breast and then cruised in the final 50-yard freestyle leg for victory in 2:00.30.
Aside from watching his sister swim, he also had the benefit of Palmerton teammate Sawyer Allen swimming in the lane next to him.
Allen, was fourth in the event, coming in with a time of 2:06.34.
"It was actually pretty awesome to have a teammate to swim next to," Pielmeier said. "We train together and there are no hard feelings or anything.
"And I was really proud of my sister, especially to watch her as a junior. Its exciting."
Katie Pielmeier wasn't quite as fortunate as her brother, losing a touchout to Southern Lehigh's Rhyan Rodriguez. The Palmerton junior shaved 8.48 seconds off her seed time, finishing in 2:11.10, which should be good enough to qualify her for her third trip to the state meet, held at Bucknell's Kinney Natatorium in two weeks.
She trailed Rodriguez by 0.3 seconds after the backstroke and the two went back-and-forth over the next 150 yards. The Spartan sophomore just beat Pielmeier to the wall.
"I've raced her before and I knew she was really good," Katie Pielmeier said. "I just had to swim my best and that's what I did. I dropped three seconds off my previous best [in districts] and it felt really good to be in the water."
The brother-sister duo weren't the only area swimmers to make trips to the podium.
In the 100 fly, Tamaqua's Joann Butkus, finished a narrow second to Southern Lehigh's Sarah Lyons.
Butkus, a sophomore, held a slim lead over Lyons with 50 yards left, but wasn't able to overcome a few minor miscues, finishing in silver medal position by just 0.33 seconds.
"Before the race I was really anxious, really excited and really nervous," Butkus said. "Normally that doesn't get to me but today it did. She swam a fantastic race and I was a little off. It just wasn't in the cards for me today."
Weatherly's Matt Cullen, the school's first-ever Schuylkill League swimming champion, took third in the 50 free, an event he entered as the top seed.
Cullen, a senior, swam a 22.34, four hundreths of a second faster than his seed time, but it wasn't enough to top Central Catholic's Kevin Bakey, who won the evening's fastest event in 21.61.
After the first day, Southern Lehigh has a commanding lead on the girls side after winning every event but the 200 free. Tamaqua, in fourth place with 126 points, trails second place Allentown Central Catholic by just 24 points.
On the boys' side, Salisbury hold a 50-point edge over Southern Lehigh in the team standings. The Blue Raiders are in eighth with 63 points.
Central's Sydney Stinner set a new district record in the 200 freestyle, winning the event in 1:52.69. That topped her previous record of 1:53.68 set in 2009 as a freshman.
The Southern Lehigh boys also set a district record in the 200 free relay, breaking Central's previous best, set in 2005, by 0.41 seconds.
District 11 Class AA
At Parkland High School
(Top three plus local finishers)
1. Southern Lehigh (SL) 232, 2. Central Catholic (CC) 150, 3. Blue Mountain (BM) 141, 4. Tamaqua (T) 126, 5. Moravian Academy (Mor) 96, 6. Schuylkill Haven (SH) 84, 7. Salisbury (S) 78, 8. Saucon Valley (SV) 67, 9. Mahanoy Area (Mah) 65.5, 10. North Schuylkill (NS) 32, 11. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 21, 12. Palmerton (Palm) 17, 13. Pen Argyl (PA) 15, 14. Notre Dame Green Pond (NDGP) 12.5, 15. Tri-Valley (TV) 11, 16 (tie). Marian (Mar), Palisades (Pali) 4, 18. Minersville (Min) 2
200 medley relay – 1. Southern Lehigh (Madison Amann, Raechel Rodriguez, Sarah Lyons, Rhyan Rodriguez) 1:50.62, 2. Central Catholic, 3. Tamaqua (Caroline Kanaskie, Emily Bumbulsky, Joann Butkus, Danielle DeCindio);
200 free – 1. Sydney Stinner (CC) 1:52.69*, 2. Abigail Thomson (Mor), 3. Katie Cialkowski (S), 8. Caroline Kanaskie (T), 18. Makayla Boyle (T);
200 IM – 1. Rhyan Rodriguez (SL) 2:10.91, 2. Katie Pielmeier (Palm), 3. Raechel (SL), 7. Miranda Amey (T), 13. Carly Trovinger (T);
50 free – 1. Jenna Forrester (SL) 24.67, 2. Allison Adams (SH), 3. Marina Barrineau (BM), 13. Danielle DeCindio (T), 17. Andrea Whitley (T);
100 fly – 1. Sarah Lyons (SL) 1:00.52, 2. Joann Butkus (T), 3. Natalie Snyder (CC), 11. Danielle DeCindio (T), 12. Emily Bumbulsky (T), 13. Sabrina Krupko (Mar), 22. Ashley VanBuren (T);
200 free relay – 1. Southern Lehigh (Nicolette Yates, Jenna Forrester, B