The West York girls’ swimming team didn’t enjoy the best of regular seasons.
The Bulldogs were largely overlooked while finishing 2-5 overall and 2-3 in York-Adams Division II.
A lack of quality depth was the main culprit for West York’s team struggles.
Since the individual postseason began, however, it’s been an entirely different story.
The Bulldogs, thanks to senior Meghan French and freshman phenom Meaghan Harnish, have taken center stage. It started at the Y-A meet, where French and Harnish each won two individual gold medals. It continued at the District 3 Class 2-A Championships, where each brought home an individual title.
The spotlight should continue to shine on French and Harnish this weekend at the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. The Class 2-A swimmers will compete Wednesday and Thursday, while 3-A swimmers hit the pool on Friday and Saturday.
The two Bulldogs represent the York-Adams League’s best chances to make a big state splash — at least according to the psych sheets released by the PIAA.
Both French and Harnish, swimming for first-year West York head coach Eric Naylor, have earned No. 2 seeds in individual 2-A events.
Meghan French: French, who is committed to swim for East Carolina University, is seeded second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 1.61 seconds. She won that event at District 3 2-A meet by more than eight seconds. If French wants to take gold at the state meet, however, she may have to finish a few seconds faster. The No. 1 seed is Shamokin junior Abby Doss, who has a seeded time of 4:58.16.
French and Doss may very well find themselves in a two-girl battle for the championship. No one else in 2-A 500 free field has a seeded time under 5:09.79.
The 2-A 500 free final is set for 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
Meaghan Harnish: Harnish, meanwhile, is the No. 2 seed in the 200-yard individual medley — an event she won at the District 3 2-A meet by more than four seconds. Her time of 2:06.11 was a personal best.
Harnish, however, might need another personal best to win a state title. Like French, Harnish will likely have to figure out a way to beat Doss, who is also the No. 1 seed in the 200 IM at 2:02.90.
The 2-A 200 IM final is slated for 5:03 p.m. Wednesday.
Swimming, of course, runs in the Harnish genes. Meaghan Harnish’s older sister, Courtney, was a former standout at West York and is now a sophomore All-American for the powerhouse University of Georgia team. Courtney Harnish won 2017 state titles in the 200 free and the 100 backstroke and 2014 state crowns in the 200 free and 500 free. She didn’t swim for West York as a sophomore and junior, instead focusing on club swimming with the York YMCA.
Jessie McMurray: Only one other Y-A swimmer boasts a top-five seed at the state meet — York Catholic junior Jessie McMurray, who is No. 3 in the 2-A 100 breaststroke. That is an event that McMurray won at the District 3 meet in 1:04.17. It was the first gold medal in Irish swimming history. Of course, York Catholic doesn’t have a pool or a swimming team. She qualified for the district meet as an independent.
The top seed in the 100 breast is Gwynedd Mercy’s Annie O’Dare (1:01.78), while the second seed is Mount Pleasant’s Heather Gardner (1:03.92).
The 2-A 100 breast final is set for 7:13 p.m. Thursday.
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that French, Harnish and McMurray are all members of the highly regarded York YMCA club team that has become well known for pumping out NCAA Division I swimmers, including Olympian Hali Flickinger from Spring Grove.
Kate Luft: For area swim fans, there is one other swimmer to keep an eye on — Northern York senior Kate Luft.
Northern competes in the Mid-Penn Conference, not the Y-A League. Still, Luft likely represents York County’s best chance for state gold. She is the No. 1 seed in the 2-A 200 free (1:49.97) and the 2-A 100 back (:54.16). The 2-A 200 free final goes off at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, while the 2-A 100 back final is 7 p.m. Thursday.
Other area top-10 seeds: Y-A swimmers have also earned top-10 seeds in six other individual state events: Central York freshman Camryn Leydig, sixth, girls’ 3-A 100 back, :56.19; Harnish, seventh, girls’ 2-A 100 breast, 1:05.12; Gettysburg junior Morgan Newell, seventh, girls’ 2-A 100 butterfly, :57.75; Central York junior Cameron Speed, eighth, boys’ 3-A 500 free, 4:35.97; French, ninth, girls’ 2-A 200 free, 1:55.51; and Northeastern junior Hunter Bachman, 10th, boys’ 3-A 50 free, :21.14.
Three York County relay teams have also earned top-10 seeds: Northern York, fifth, girls’ 2-A 200 medley relay, 1:47.81: Northern York, seventh, girls’ 2-A 400 free relay, 3:37.11; and West York, 10th, girls’ 2-A 200 free relay, 1:40.36.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.