With a new head coach in Chad Houck on board, the Elizabethtown Area High School swimming team was looking to begin the season with a bang. The Bears did just that, coming home with a dominating sweep during an away meet at Milton Hershey on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
The girls team was utterly dominant taking first place in every event en route to a 144-36 victory. Junior Lexi Fink, sophomore Gabby Walsh and freshman Gabi Dabbs led the way, totaling 3 first-place finishes each: Fink in the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke and as part of the 200-yard medley relay; Walsh in the 100-yard butterfly and as part of the 400-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays; and Dabbs in the 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle and as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Junior Rachel Handshew wasn’t far behind her teammates, taking first in the 50-yard freestyle and as part of the 200-yard medley relay. Sophomore Mackenzie Batche was the final part of the latter, while junior Camille Donahue and sophomore Emmy Kriner took first alongside Dabbs and Walsh in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Other first-place finishes included freshman Sierra Kapcsos in the 100-yard freestyle, freshman Lily Rutkowski in the 100-yard backstroke and the team of freshman Rachel Nolen, freshman Madison Conway, senior Cera Connolly and sophomore Sarah Rhine in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Top-three finishers for the Lady Bears consisted of Kriner (second in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle), Batche (second in the 100-yard butterfly), Rutkowski (second in the 100-yard freestyle), Kapcsos (second in the 100-yard breaststroke), senior Emily Louie (second in the 200-yard individual medley), junior Katie Locker (second in the 50-yard freestyle), sophomore Megan Handshew (second in the 100-yard backstroke), Nolen (third in the 200-yard individual medley), Connolly (third in the 100-yard freestyle), Donahue (third in the 100-yard breaststroke), senior Abby Alspaugh (third in the 200-yard freestyle) and senior Caeli Connolly (third in the 500-yard freestyle).
In diving, junior Kierstan Lentz won the girls 50-meter with a score of 234.77. Before the meet, Lentz also took home a first-place medal at the Dover Eagle Invitational at Northeastern High School on Saturday, Dec. 8, with a score of 210.75.
While the boys team didn’t complete a full sweep like the girls, the Bears were also able to coast to an easy victory, winning 119-57. Sophomore Ben Azzalina finished with a team-high 3 first-place wins in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and as part of the 200-yard medley relay.
Senior Stuart Readinger and freshman Riley Runnels each placed first twice. The two were both apart of the 400-yard medley relay with sophomore Reece Readinger and freshman Ethan Hall. Readinger was also apart of the 200-yard medley relay with Azzalina, freshman Wyatt Rachael and sophomore Donovan Arnold. Runnels, meanwhile, won the 100-yard freestyle. The other winners consisted of sophomore Andrew Donahue in the 200-yard individual medley, senior Kyle Welch in the 100-yard butterfly and sophomore Sam Azzalina in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The remaining top-three finishers for the Elizabethtown boys included Stuart Readinger (second in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle), Reece Readinger (second in the 200-yard individual medley), Sam Azzalina (second in the 50-yard freestyle), Arnold (second in the 100-yard freestyle, third in the 50-yard freestyle), Runnels (second in the 100-yard breaststroke), Rachael (third in the 200-yard individual medley), Hall (third in the 100-yard freestyle), sophomore Chase Shelly (third in the 100-yard butterfly and 500-yard freestyle), freshman Owen Gensemer (third in the 200-yard freestyle) and freshman Ryan Epps (third in the 100-yard breaststroke).
Jordan Urban was the lone Milton Hershey swimmer with multiple victories. He took first in the boys 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle and as part of the 200-yard freestyle relay with Teddy Kostelnik, Connor Biedrzycki and Malick Ibela. Kyree Scott also picked up a win as the lone boys diver.
What was most impressive about the victory for Elizabethtown was the success of the first-year swimmers. Eight freshmen had a victory of some kind, and two more earned top-three finishes. Hopefully, for the Bears, they’ll be able to keep up the good work as they stay on the road against two Lancaster-Lebanon League opponents: Manheim Township on Thursday, Dec. 13, and McCaskey on Tuesday, Dec. 18.