MECHANICSBURG — After the York-Adams League swimming championships concluded a few weeks ago at Central York High School, the next step in the journey towards a state medal for area swimmers was at the District 3 meet at Cumberland Valley this past weekend.
Taking on some of the best competition from the district, the league held its own by claiming a total of 18 top-three finishes across the two-day event. That haul was highlighted by four gold-medal performances, including the first-ever by a York Catholic swimmer.
Overall, it was a successful event for the area participants, many of whom will continue on to the PIAA championships that run from March 13-16.
McMurray wins first-ever gold medal for York Catholic: That list includes a pair of West York standouts in Meghan French and Meaghan Harnish as well as Jessie McMurray, an independent swimmer who earned York Catholic its first-ever District 3 swimming gold in the 100 breaststroke.
“Coming in, I really wanted to win,” said McMurray, who also swims for the York YMCA club team. “I wanted to represent York Catholic as a school, since we don’t really have a swim team and no one really ever talks about swimming. I really just wanted to win a gold for my school, since no one has done that before.”
McMurray’s time of 1:04.17 seconds topped Jordynn Park of Donegal by a quarter of a second. It also was nearly a full second ahead of third-place finisher Harnish, who is one of McMurray’s teammates on the York YMCA team.
“I saw (Park and Harnish) coming on, and I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to finish,'” McMurray said.
McMurray’s seed time of 1:06.00 was set at the District 3 independent qualifier for Y-A schools at Red Lion. That time was the fourth fastest in qualifying behind Harnish, Park and Julia Strine of Shippensburg.
“That wasn’t my best time,” she said. “So I was glad to get it back down.”
West York girls shine: While Harnish was out-touched by McMurray in the breaststroke Saturday, the West York standout dominated in taking the 200 IM Friday with a time of 2:06.11 seconds. She bested second-place Claire O’Neill of Donegal by more than four seconds.
“That was a lifetime best for her,” West York coach Eric Naylor said. “And I’m so happy about that.”
French followed up a third-place finish in the 200 free Friday with a gold-medal winning performance in her signature event, the 500 free. Her time of 5:01.61 was over eight seconds better than runner-up Megan Ehrnfeldt of Schuylkill Valley.
“This is one of my favorite events to do,” French said. “I’m more of a long-distance swimmer.”
Both Harnish and French were also a part of a pair of bronze medal winning teams in the 200 and 400 free relays to earn the maximum four medals.
While happy with both of their performances, Naylor hopes his state qualifiers earn better hardware in a few weeks.
“We’re fast now,” he said after his team finished fourth in the team competition. “But my hope is for them to be even faster at states.”
Other 2-A notables: Gettysburg and York Suburban swimmers earned two silvers and a bronze, while the West York boys 200 free relay team earned a gold medal.
For the boys’ team at Gettysburg, senior Jacob Nelson finished second in the 100 fly while also leading the 200 free relay to a runner-up finish. Junior Morgan Newell was third in the 100 fly for the girls’ team.
The Suburban girls took third in the 200 medley relay, while the Trojan boys claimed second in the 400 free relay. Matt Peters finished second in the 200 IM, three seconds behind Zach Miller of Bishop McDevitt.
While Naylor was happy about how both his boys’ and girls’ teams performed over the weekend, the Bulldogs coach had to deal with somber emotions after the final event of the meet, the 400 free relay. Seeded sixth entering the meet, Naylor was all smiles after his team tapped the wall with a time of 3:20.74.
Not only was that time eight seconds faster than their seed time, it would have broken a school record as well. However, the officials determined that West York’s third swimmer jumped off the blocks a hair early resulting in a disqualification.
Central York’s Speed, Leydig excel against strong competition: Earning a medal in the District 3 3-A meet for a local swimmer is no easy task. In a field dominated by deep and talented squads such as Governor Mifflin, Wilson, Hershey and Cumberland Valley, a pair of Central York standouts shined.
Cameron Speed, a junior, finished sixth in the 200 free and third in the 500 free. The Panther standout was also part a pair of medal winning teams in the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Camryn Leydig, a freshman, finished seventh in the 100 fly and second in the 100 back. Leydig was also part of the 200 medley relay team that placed third and the 400 free relay that finished fourth. The Central York girls finished fourth as a team in 3-A.
Speed set personal best times in the 200 and 500 free events. He’s hoping those times will earn him a berth into the state draw.
“I’m happy with how I did,” Speed said. “I dropped time in both of them, and I broke the school record in the 500, so that was exciting.”
Both of the boys relay teams fell short of top-three finishes, but Speed realizes the caliber of competition in 3-A makes it tough to accomplish that feat.
“I think that for our relays we probably could have done a little bit better, but any time you medal isn’t bad,” he said.
Speed was happy to see Leydig and Sydney Ulmer both perform well at the meet. Both Leydig and Ulmer competed on the relay teams as well as individually in the 100 fly and 100 back.
Leydig, who was seeded first in the 100 back, was edged out by Cameron Gring of Muhlenberg by a quarter of a second. After finishing a close 1-2 at the Y-A League meet, Ulmer finished fourth in the 100 fly with Leydig coming in eighth.
“Camryn and Sydney both swam really fast in their individual events,” Speed said. “And they placed really high, which was exciting to see. And the girls medley relay team improved its time and did really well too.”
Other 3-A notables: Dallastown’s Joe Dunnigan won a bronze in the 100 fly, which was his school’s only medal this weekend. Arabella Butera of Red Lion placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke, while Daniel Gordon of Spring Grove placed sixth in the 50 free.
Hunter Bachman of Northeastern finished sixth in the 100 free, while Lucas Tate of Central York was sixth in the 100 breaststroke.
Gordon also finished seventh in the 100 free. He was also a part of the seventh-place 200 free relay team for Spring Grove.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.