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Golden PIAA return for West York swimmer Harnish

  • West York's Courtney Harnish broke her own record in winning the 200 free at the PIAA 2-A swim meet.
  • Harnish had a time of 1:44.735, nearly six seconds ahead of runner-up Madison Nalls of Eastern York.
  • Harnish returned to the state high school meet after skipping it the past two years to swim for her club team.

LEWISBURG — Courtney Harnish is finishing up her scholastic swimming career a lot like she started it.

West York senior Courtney Harnish won the PIAA Class 2-A 200 freestyle on Thursday by nearly six seconds.

Collecting gold medals and setting state records.

Harnish, a senior at West York High School, broke her own record in the Class 2-A 200-yard freestyle — in an outstanding time of 1 minute, 44.73 seconds — during Thursday’s PIAA Swimming Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

She established the previous record, 1:45.91, as a freshman in 2014.

Eastern York’s Madison Nalls placed second in the event in 1:50.55.

“I think, honestly, it means more that I broke my own (record),” said Harnish, who spent her sophomore and junior years swimming exclusively for her club team at the York YMCA before returning to high school swimming for her senior campaign. “Because on top of breaking a record, you also break a personal best.”

In total, three York County swimmers and one relay team earned medals of the first day of the two-day Class 2-A championship meet. Action resumes at 10:45 a.m. Friday.

Courtney Harnish

Harnish, a University of Georgia recruit, said being expected to win the 200 free — and potentially set a record — came with some pressure.

“Definitely,” she said, “but I think it was coming more from me wanting to go a personal best. I haven’t dropped in this event since my freshman year and I wanted to do that. I’m also thankful to represent my school for the last time and be here with such an amazing group of girls.”

Harnish also is seeded first for Friday’s 100 backstroke.

Because of the winter storm Stella that hit the state with snow Tuesday, the PIAA altered its schedule and went with only timed finals. There were no preliminaries. Both Harnish and Nalls agreed that they would have preferred a preliminary race, but they adjusted accordingly.

Nalls, who credited Harnish for pushing her to be a better swimmer, said she was aiming for a faster time in the 200 free but was proud of her second-place effort.

“I was going for top three and I got that,” said the Eastern York junior, “but I was hoping for a 1:47, and I wasn’t too close. Still, I’m pretty satisfied.”

West York's girls are in 11th place in the 2-A team standings entering the second day of action. They have 42 points. Villa Maria Academy leads with 106, while Eastern York is tied for 23rd with 17.

Boys: Another swimmer relatively satisfied with his performance was York Suburban’s Aidan Fryar, who placed seventh in the 50 freestyle in 21.36 seconds.

Fryar was seeded fourth.

“You can’t not be happy,” the junior said. “I was hoping to go faster but you always want to go faster. I was hoping for a sub-21, so I wasn’t too far off. I’m happy with it.”

Gabe Castano of Allentown Central Catholic won the 50 in a state-record time of 20.50 seconds. Fryar is confident that he’ll be atop the podium as a senior.

“I think I’m going to win next year,” he said. “I’m going to work hard for it.”

The Suburban boys are 13th in the team standings after the first day with 36 points. The Trojans’ 200 medley relay team of Karl Schmittle, Matt Peters, Fryar and Charles Rogers took seventh in 1:39.59.

Grove City leads the team standings with 122.

Gettysburg’s Jared Herr finished eighth in the 200 freestyle in 1:43.52.

Reach Michael Blouse at