Both the swimming teams at Elizabethtown Area High School came into 2019 with identical 2-2 records. After the Bears’ first two meets of the year, however, one is a much better position than the other.
The two teams went to Milton Hershey Middle School on Wednesday, Jan. 2, for a non-league battle against Lower Dauphin. Both meets were extremely competitive, but in the end, the Lady Bears won 94.5-75.5, while the Falcons boys captured a 99-71 victory.
Elizabethtown’s girls won four of the 11 races, pulling ahead of Lower Dauphin thanks to a combined 10 second and third-place finishes. Sophomore Gabby Walsh continued her impressive winning streak in the 100-yard backstroke, winning for the fourth straight meet in 1:05.08. She also placed second in the 200-yard freestyle.
Junior Lexi Fink got her third win of the year in the 200-yard individual medley with a season-best time of 2:24.71 in addition to a second-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. She also won the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:53.50. alongside junior Rachel Handshew, freshman Gabi Dabbs and freshman Sierra Kapcsos. Junior Katie Locker also got her first career victory in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 27.81.
Other top-three finishers for the Lady Bears included Kapcsos (second in the 100-yard freestyle, third in the 100-yard backstroke), Rachel Handshew (second in the 50-yard freestyle), senior Camille Donahue (second in the 500-yard freestyle), Dabbs (tied for third in the 200-yard freestyle), sophomore Mackenzie Batche (third in the 100-yard butterfly), sophomore Megan Handshew (third in the 50-yard freestyle), sophomore Emily Kriner (third in the 500-yard freestyle) and freshman Lilly Rutkowski (third in the 100-yard backstroke).
Meanwhile, the boys were able to stay relevant with four victories of their own. Sophomore Ben Azzalina had the team high in wins with two, taking first in the 50-yard freestyle (22.74) and 100-yard backstroke (56.86). His twin brother Sam finished third in the 50-yard freestyle and also won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:08.63. The other Elizabethtown win came from freshman Riley Runnels in the 100-yard freestyle (57.53).
The downfall for the Bears came elsewhere. They were only able to gather four other top-three placements: sophomore Andrew Donahue (second in the 100-yard freestyle, third in the 200-yard IM), senior Kyle Welch (third in the 100-yard butterfly) and freshman Ethan Hall (third in the 200-yard freestyle).
Junior Rebecca Yeager led the way for the Lower Dauphin girls with two victories in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles. Fellow junior Elijah Durantine did the same for the boys in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.
Elizabethtown traveled to Franklin & Marshall College’s Kunkel Aquatic Center on Tuesday, Jan. 8, for its first Section Two meet of the season against Lancaster Catholic. The girls dominated, winning by a final score of 128-42, while the boys valiantly fell 104-66.
The Lady Bears won all but one of the 11 events. Walsh led the way with a victory in the 200-yard freestyle (2:11.21) and yet another win in the 100-yard backstroke (1:05.91). She and Fink, who won the 100-yard breaststroke (1:15.98), were both apart of the winning 200-yard medley relay team (alongside Batche and Rachel Handshew) and the 200-yard freestyle relay team (with Kapcsos and Locker)
Locker took home the win in the 50-yard freestyle (27.01), while Kapcsos placed first in the 100-yard freestyle (1:00.66). Dabbs and Camille Donahue got wins in the 100-yard butterfly (1:14.06) and the 200-yard individual medley (2:29.28), respectively, and also won the 400-yard freestyle relay with Kriner and sophomore Brooke Heisey.
The remaining top-three finishers to the Elizabethtown girls consisted of Rachel Handshew (second in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles), Camille Donahue (second in the 500-yard freestyle), Fink (second in the 200-yard individual medley), Batche (second in the 100-yard butterfly), Rutkowksi (second in the 100-yard backstroke), Kapcsos (second in the 100-yard breaststroke), Megan Handshew (third in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke) Dabbs (third in the 200-yard freestyle), Locker (third in the 100-yard freestyle) and Heisey (third in the 500-yard freestyle).
The boys team was only able to pick up three victories. Two came from Ben Azzalina in the 50-yard freestyle (22.36) and 100-yard freestyle (50.03). He has won the former in all six meets this year. The other came from Runnels in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.02).
The top-three placements for the Bears included Sam Azzalina (second in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke), Andrew Donahue (second in the 200-yard individual medley), Welch (third in the 100-yard backstroke) and senior Stuart Readinger (third in the 500-yard freestyle).
Logan Paulukow led the Lancaster Catholic boys with 2 wins in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles. Alaina Rowe got the lone victory for the Crusader girls in the 500-yard freestyle.
In between meets, junior Kierstan Lentz finished second in the girls diving event at the South Western Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 5, with a final score of 375.
The girls team is now 4-2 on the season, good for first in the section, while the boys have dropped to 2-4. The Section Two schedule is set to continue for Elizabethtown at home on Thursday, Jan. 10, against Lampeter-Strasburg and away at Ephrata on Tuesday, Jan. 15.