Local high school swimmers have been aiming for this time of season since early October.
After the Dallastown and York Suburban teams (both boys and girls) claimed York-Adams League division titles, the sport moves from the team season toward the individual side of things.
It kicks off Thursday with the opening of the York-Adams League Swimming Championships at Central York High School.
There’s plenty of excitement to go around, even for individuals whose teams did not win hardware this year. That lists includes the likes of Northeastern standout Drew Wilson and West York star Courtney Harnish, among others.
Neither the Bobcats nor Bulldogs were able to edge the Trojans in Division II, but both Wilson and Harnish figure to bring home multiple medals this week.
Wilson hopes to double-dip: Wilson, a junior, will defend his gold medal earned in the 200 freestyle a year ago. The son of Northeastern boys’ volleyball coach Matt Wilson, Drew is also hoping to double-dip with a victory in the 500 free. That’s an event in which he placed second a year ago.
The Bobcat standout is the favorite. He is seeded first in both events this year. His qualifying time in the 200 free is 1 minute, 45.07 seconds, which is more than four seconds quicker than No. 2 seeded Jared Herr of Gettysburg. His time in the 500 free is 4:50.90.
“The 500 should be interesting,” Northeastern coach Dan Schaeberle said. “The two boys from Susquehannock (Logan McFadden) and Gettysburg (Herr) should be right there with him. And that’s good for Drew because it’s going to push him, which is great. That’s what I want. But, going in, I would think that he’s the favorite for both events.”
Harnish set to make waves: The West York girls’ swim team had hopes of completing a championship season heading into the year. With Harnish, who swam for the past two years with the York YMCA team, and freshman Tesia Thomas adding to an already talented cast that tied Suburban for the Division II title last year, the goal of an undefeated team season seemed reasonable.
Close setbacks against both Dallastown and York Suburban, however, demonstrated that depth is often more important than great individual talent when it comes to team competition. Now that individual action has become the focus, the Bulldogs figure to be able to make a lot of waves.
That starts with Harnish, who is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top recruits. Before she completes her high school career and heads to the University of Georgia, Harnish is looking to match or exceed her accomplishments from her freshman campaign, which is the last time she swam in scholastic competition. Harnish set a pair of PIAA records in the 200 free and 500 free back then.
This week she’ll look to medal in several events. Harnish is seeded first in the 100 butterfly (:55.33) by a wide margin — more than seven seconds. Her qualifying time is .08 of a second away from her record-setting time at the league meet back in 2014.
It is a similar case in the 500 free. The Bulldog senior is more than 25 seconds (5:00.50-5:25.86) ahead of No. 2 seeded Lindsay Brenneman of Dover. That qualifying time, however, is still 14 seconds slower than her record-breaking time of 4:46.66 back in 2014.
“She’s that good,” Schaeberle said of Harnish. “I think she’ll be out there pretty good in her races. She’s like special good. She’s the top recruit in the country for a reason.”
Other Bulldogs may also excel: Harnish is not alone as a top-seeded West York swimmer. Sophomore Meghan French is the No. 1 seed in the 200 free, Thomas is the top seed in the 50 free and senior Claudia Keller is seeded first in the 100 back.
The Bulldogs also claimed the top seeds in all three relays — the 200 medley, the 200 free and the 400 free.
Wildcats, Trojans also have top entrants: The Wildcats and Trojans, however, also have their share of top entrants this week. On the boys’ side, Dallastown’s Logan Brockway (200 individual medley, 100 backstroke) and Jacob Stoner (100 free, 100 butterfly) both earned No. 1 seeds, while Suburban’s Aiden Fryar is the top seed in the 50 free. On the girls’ side, Jenna Woods (200 IM, 100 breaststroke) and Morgan Merrified (100 free) are top seeds for the Wildcats.
Diving: The York-Adams League Diving Championships are set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, also at Central York.
West York's Erica Sarver, who will dive on the NCAA Division I level for San Diego State, finished second last season after winning the league title as a sophomore.
Central York's Garrett Sommer will return in an attempt to defend his boys' crown.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.