LEWISBURG -- With 11 individual medals already in their possession, York Suburban's swimmers had one more award to collect before leaving Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium on Thursday night: a trophy for finishing second in the team standings at the PIAA Class AA Girls' Championships.
The Trojans' team of six delivered a series of outstanding performances during two unforgettable days.
"I had no idea this (back-to-back, medal-winning days culminating with the team award) was possible," Suburban senior Helen Gunn said. "It surprised me. Everyone swam so well."
Gunn did her part in the final event of the meet by combining with Zowie Day, Carson Gross and Erin Merkle to finish second in the 400-yard relay with a
Villa Maria Academy, of District 1, which was crowned the team champion, won the 400 relay with a state-record performance of 3:29.90.
"It was my last race ever, and I just wanted to do my best," Gunn said. "The team has so much heart, and that's why we're having the success we're experiencing now."
The 400 relay team members weren't the only ones to strike silver on Thursday. Merkle finished second in the 500 freestyle, and Victoria Griffin of Delone Catholic placed second in the 100 freestyle to go with a third-place finish she earned the night before in the 200 freestyle.
West York freshman Taylor Hoover just missed getting on the awards podium when she finished ninth in the 500 freestyle.
Merkle recorded a career best of 4:57.88 in the 500, taking second behind Scranton Prep's Mia Nonnenberg, who touched home in an excellent time of 4:48.18.
"I knew she (Nonnenberg) was going to have a great swim," Merkle said. "She pushed me to go even faster. I'm happy, and I'm really pleased that I got that time drop (from 5:01.83 in the prelim to 4:57.88 in the
Merkle, who plans to swim next year at Villanova University, closed her high school career by winning four state medals (two in individual events and two in relays). Gross, a freshman, captured three medals (two in relays and one in an individual event).
"Since my freshman year, I've been coming to states, and this is one of the best ones yet" Merkle said. "It was so much fun coming out second as a team with just six girls. I don't think we realized what impact we could have."
The Trojans won the team title at the District 3 Meet.
"I can't compare the two (district championship and state runner-up), they're so special, both of them," Gunn said.
The team also reached the goal that fourth-year coach, Craig Brennan, set for it.
"I just wanted to try and make our team better each year, and we've gotten better," said Brennan, a former Trojans' swimmer. "I love coaching these kids. What they accomplished is a reflection of all the hard work, in the weight room, mornings (morning practices) and putting up with me. They definitely deserved it."
Brennan recalled that his coach, the legendary Dick Guyer, once said that everything that happens at states is just icing on the cake (after having to qualify for states at the district meet).
"That was a lot of icing (this year)," Brennan said.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org.