Berlitz captures state gold in 200 IM
Marian’s Danny Berlitz gets ready to enter the water at the start of the PIAA 200 individual medley. Berlitz captured a gold medal in the event. JIMMY MAY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Marian's Danny Berlitz stands atop the medal stand Wednesday after receiving his PIAA state gold medal in the 200 IM. CHUCK HIXSON/SPECIAL TO THE TIMEs NEWS
LEWISBURG — Two years ago, Danny Berlitz swam both the 500 freestyle and the 200 IM as a sophomore at states.
It was a classic thrill-of-victory, agony-of-defeat experience.
Berlitz won gold in the 500 free and was disqualified for not touching the wall in the 200 IM. That memory has hung with him, and he admitted Wednesday after winning his second straight state championship in the 200 IM that it has stayed in his head and served as motivation.
In the preliminary round on Wednesday, Berlitz won his heat, but it wasn’t in his classic, dominating style. It almost appeared that he was just going through the motions.
In reality, it related back to that disqualification two years ago that played into his strategy coming into the event.
“This morning [the preliminary] was just don’t DQ [get disqualified] and make it to the finals,” Berlitz said. “Just go in, get a time, rest for a while and then come out tonight and go as fast as I can. I say it before every 200 IM I’ve done since then. It’s a motivation and a chip on my shoulder and it definitely helps me. Every 200 IM, coming in, I know to be careful.”
The strategy worked perfectly as he won the 200 IM with a time of 1:47.58, almost a full seven seconds ahead of runner-up Christian Coleman of Lewisburg.
If Berlitz was overly cautious in the preliminaries, he seemingly threw caution to the wind in the finals, taking an early lead and never having to look over his shoulder to tell how the race was going.
“The first two legs [the butterfly and backstroke] were important,” said Berlitz. “I knew I had the back half, it was just working on the front half of the race to grind it. I know Christian [Coleman] is a good fly and back swimmer, so it was just try to stay ahead of him and go out and win the first half.”
Today, Berlitz will get another shot at some redemption against an old friend, Luke Mikesell of Clearfield High School. In 2017, Berlitz took gold in the 500 free, with Mikesell finishing third. Last year, Mikesell came back to beat Berlitz by just .39 seconds to take gold in the 500. This will be the last high school battle for the two, with Berlitz looking to close out his Marian career with another gold and Mikesell looking to repeat as a junior.
The strategy for Berlitz remains much the same as it was coming into the first day of competition and the 200 IM — just do as little as possible to secure a good spot in the finals, and then look to blow away the competition on the way to another gold medal.
While the script is the same, Berlitz knows that the actors change and that Mikesell wants to repeat.
“Tomorrow is the same thing — prelims, just get in the middle, hopefully be top-seed,” said Berlitz. “With me and Luke Mikesell, it’s going to be a battle and he and I will go back-and-forth. It’s going to be a great race, and we’re both going to drop amazing times. Then in finals, we’ll see.”
A BUSY DAY AHEAD ... Berlitz will have a lot of other local swimmers looking to join him on the medal stand today. Marian’s Maddie Dando will be competing in the 100 backstroke. Panther Valley will have two swimmers in action, as Erika Zimmerman competes in the 500 freestyle and Emily Newton has qualified in the 100 breaststroke. Northern Lehigh’s Ben Lehman will also swim in the boys 100 breaststroke..
BIG TIME IN BISON LAND ... The Bucknell campus is going to be a busy spot tonight. While the boys consolations and finals are taking place in the Kinney Natatorium, the Bucknell women’s basketball team will be playing in the Patriot League semifinals against Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion. The two facilities are so close to each other that they literally share a hallway.
NEXT GIRL UP ... Dando got a welcome surprise on Wednesday. Initially thinking she was at Bucknell to cheer on friends and prep for her race today, Dando ended up swimming in the 200 IM as the first alternate, finishing 32nd with a time of 2:20.62. Dando was second in the event at the District 11 meet earlier this month.
PIAA SWIMMING DAY 1
200 Medley Relay - 1. Villa Maria 1:44.31, 2. Scranton Prep 1:46.12, 3. Wyoming Seminary 1:46.99, 4. Schuylkill Valley 1:47.96.
200 Freestyle - 1. Karen Siddoway (Northgate) 1:49.08, 2. Kate Luft (Northern York) 1:49.15, 3. Noel Fresa (Upper Perkiomen) 1:52.63, 4. Ella Gross (Gwynedd Mercy) 1:53.02.
200 IM - 1. Abby Doss (Shamokin) 2:01.39, 2. Annie O’Dare (Gwynedd Mercy) 2:03.27, 3. Meaghan Harnish (West York) 2:03.79, 4. Sophia Gerhart (Penns Valley) 2:08.69.
50 Freestyle - 1. Emma Wilson (Grove City) 23.14, 2. Heather Gardner (Mt. Pleasant) 23.43, 3. Marlee Rickert (Schuylkill Valley) 23.58, 4. Skylar Strunk (Brandywine Heights) 23.73.
100 Butterfly - 1. Maura Fluehr (Springfield Montgomery) 55.69, 2. Madyson McSorley (Nazareth Academy) 56.79, 3. Ella Gross (Gwynedd Mercy) and Sophia Gerhart (Penns Valley) 57.35.
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Fairview 1:36.59, 2. Scranton Prep 1:36.78, 3. Villa Maria 1:37.17, 4. Grove City 1:38.07.
Diving - 1. Anna Vogt (Ringgold) 421.10, 2. Erica Kenski (Trinity) 382.35, 3. Jamilie Atiyeh (Allentown Central Catholic) 375.80, 4. Alexa Gonczi (Central Valley) 355.25.
200 Medley Relay - 1. Cathedral Prep 1:34.42, 2. Bishop McDevitt 1:36.93, 3. Clearfield 1:37.50, 4. Lower Moreland 1:37.78.
200 Freestyle - 1. Luke Mikesell (Clearfield) 1:38.31 2. Josiah Lauver (Bishop McDevitt) 1:38.51, 3. Adam Mahler (Holy Redeemer) 1:41.11, 4. Andrew Pierre (Mars) 1:42.58.
200 IM - 1. Danny Berlitz (Marian Catholic) 1:47.58, 2. Christian Coleman (Lewisburg) 1:54.40, 3. Robert Spekis (Belle Vernon) 1:56.95, 4. Alex Yoon (Lower Moreland) 1:57.15.
50 Freestyle - 1. Nick Buckley (Huntingdon) 21.22, 2. Conner McBeth (Neshannock) 21.26, 3. Joshua McClelland (Sayre) 21.39, 4. Adrian Beckford (Shady Side Academy) 21.48.
100 Butterfly - 1. Ian Shahan (Belle Vernon) :48.83, 2. Jake Houck (Donegal) :48.92, 3. Adam Mahler (Holy Redeemer) :49.03, 4. Brenek Strawn (Bangor) :49.43.
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Cathedral Prep 1:26.22, 2. Central Columbia 1:27.70, 3. Lower Moreland 1:27.77, 4. Shady Side Academy 1:28.51.