The girls’ portion of the York-Adams League swimming championships Thursday night at Central York High School seemed like a see-saw battle between York Suburban standout Carson Gross and Dallastown star Kacey Oberlander.
The two highly acclaimed swimmers never squared off against one another individually all night. But they did trade spots atop the medal stand regularly during the six-event session. Oberlander earned a pair of gold medals in the 200 medley relay and the 100 backstroke, while Gross won both the 200 freestyle and 50 freestyle.
After their back-and-forth battle ended, it was time for a couple of slight upsets in the final two events of the day. Central York junior Sarah Spinney bested her seeded time by more than three seconds to win gold in the 100 butterfly. Spinney’s win was followed by Dover’s 200 free relay team that earned a gold to end the night.
The championships will resume Friday at 7 p.m. with the final six events for the girls back at Central.
For Oberlander, who swam exclusively for the York YMCA club team last year, it was fun to be able to compete with her high school team in a championship setting. The Alabama-bound senior clearly was enjoying the day.
“I definitely get excited coming here as a team,” she said. “It’s fun basically coming here and watching everyone’s hard work pay off.”
Starting off the final heat in the 200 medley relay, Oberlander got the Wildcats off to a fast start. Teammates Jenna Woods, Sydney Hoover and Emma Balderson built on Oberlander’s strong start en route to a 1-minute, 51.71-second finish. Central edged out Dover for silver by the slightest of margins, just .01 of a second.
Gross took the spotlight in the next event, the 200 free. The Trojan senior swam a 1:55.58, which was nearly three seconds ahead of West York freshman Meghan French and Dover junior Lindsay Brenneman.
Not typically an event that she swims at the league meet, Gross needed a chance to improve her seeding time for the upcoming District 3-AA meet. She is the reigning state champion in the 200.
“I entered the 200 free so I could get a better time for districts,” Gross said. “Usually I don’t swim any of the events that I swim at districts here (at the league meet).”
Oberlander, who swam for Dallastown as a sophomore, regained the limelight in the next event. Swimming the 200 individual medley, the Wildcat standout shaved nearly a second off of her seeded time en route to finishing in 2:18.19 to claim a second gold.
Being able to do it for her high school team, as opposed to her club team, was special for Oberlander. She even admitted that she got a bit choked up during her team’s Senior Night a week ago.
“I got to like two words into my speech and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness … I’m going to cry,’” she said. “And thinking about moving on to Alabama and everything that is happening (was emotional). I said ‘I haven’t been with this team long’ and then went the tears.”
Gross capped her two-win night in the next event, the 50 free. She bested a pair of Dover standouts in Grace Beiershcmitt and Maddi Hetrick to win with a time of 24.61 seconds.
Spinney followed with a bit of a shocker in the 100 fly. Seeded fifth, the Central junior was the only one to finish under a minute (:59.87) en route to winning her first gold.
“My teammates and coaches have been pushing us so much,” Spinney said. “We really haven’t done any easy practices. We’ve had like no taper. I absolutely owe this to my teammates. They are the biggest support system ever.”
The night was capped off by a surprise gold by Dover. Seeded second behind rival Suburban, the Eagle quartet of Annie Long, Hetrick, Brenneman and Beierschmitt out-touched the Trojans by more than a second (1:41.04 to 1:42.08).
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.