EMIGSVILLE — The 2017-18 swimming season has been everything that the Central York girls’ team dreamed it could be.
With strong individual and relay performances throughout the season, the Panthers ended Dallastown’s reign atop the York-Adams League Division I standings this year.
The good times, however, are far from done for the D-I champs. That was quite clear during the first night of the Y-A League girls' championships held in their own pool.
The Panthers won five of the six events Thursday, Feb. 8, including nine top-three medals, en route to a very successful evening.
“They’ve worked hard and (winning the D-I title) was a goal that they had at the beginning of the season,” Central coach James Gingerich said. “Everybody on the team contributes, whether it's first place or fifth place in a dual meet, which still gets us one point. Everybody works together to be a part of the team.”
Things couldn’t have gone any better from the beginning. The Panthers A and B 200 medley relay teams finished first and second, respectively. The winning team of senior Callie Paff, junior Maggie Hunter, freshman Emma McCombs and senior Sarah Hartman finished in 1 minute, 50.55 seconds, or nearly three seconds ahead of their B team (1:53.25).
In the second event, the 200 freestyle, Central’s Micah Sopko claimed first in 1:58.11, nearly 3½ seconds below her qualifying time of 2:01.51. Courtney Thornton took third in the event for the Panthers, just behind Susquehannock’s Katlyn Baer.
Paff excels: Paff collected her second gold medal of the night in the 200 individual medley. The Panther standout, who was seeded first in the event, finished more than six seconds (2:08.68) ahead of teammate Sarah Minich, who finished in 2:14.77.
“I just wanted to try to focus on myself and better my time,” said Paff, who just missed doing so by .4 seconds. “You always have to check (where everyone else is), but I just have to keep pushing myself and trying a little harder.”
Paff could likely say the same thing about her teammates, who have done the same thing all year.
“We’re all really strong,” Paff said. “We have a lot of great energy and we all pump each other up. If someone is a little too quiet, we’ll go behind them and go ‘woo’ to get them ready to go.”
Gingerich is thrilled to have someone the caliber of Paff, who swam exclusively with the York YMCA team her first three years of high school, to lead his squad.
“She’s done very well,” he said. “She’s worked very hard and is a good teammate. I’m just really happy that she chose to swim with us for her senior year.”
Miller, relay team also shine for Panthers: Gabby Miller, a sophomore, followed up Paff’s victory by claiming gold in the 50 free. Miller nipped South Western freshman Rachel Cunningham by just under half a second. Dallastown’s Sarah Trumble, who raced in the second of the three heats, knocked nearly 1½ seconds off her qualifying time to finish third at :24.97.
The only event the Panthers didn’t win came in the 100 butterfly, but they were close. New Oxford sophomore Lauren Richter clipped Gettysburg sophomore Megan Newell and Central’s McCombs to take the gold. Richter’s time of :59.50 was .14 better than Newell and :37 ahead of McCombs, who entered the event as the top seed.
Central capped off its terrific night by winning the final event, the 200 free relay. The team of junior Brynn DuRand, Miller, sophomore Kelsey Hartman and senior Sarah Hartman took the gold in 1:41.20. South Western finished second while Dallastown took third.
The second night of the girls’ championships will take place immediately following the boys’ action Friday, Feb. 9, back at Central. The boys’ action is slated to start at 5 p.m. with the girls’ action expected to begin between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.