Dallastown's Riley Thomas earns third-place medal to lead area 3-A swimmers at state meet

KAREN SANGILLO
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Riley Thomas

MECHANICSBURG — Dallastown’s Riley Thomas made his final high school swim event count.

Thomas, a senior, cranked out a time of 55.85 seconds to place third in the 100-yard breaststroke at the PIAA Class 3-A Boys' Swimming Championships, held Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School.

Thomas, a senior, was also 13th in the 200 individual medley (1:54.64).

"I’m fairly excited with my time in the breaststroke,” he said. “I definitely wanted to do my best time and I didn’t, but you win some, you lose some, and I’m OK with it.

“It was definitely better than the 200 IM. I don’t know what happened there. As for the 200 IM, my start was slow and I’m a little bit upset, but that’s never an excuse. I just have to go out and get it next time.”

This is his first trip to states since his freshman year. He swam exclusively on the club level for the York YMCA during his sophomore and junior seasons.

“It was definitely exciting to be back,” he said. “I love the high school atmosphere. Everyone’s a lot more excited and there’s a lot of friendships and everyone has a good time.

“It was harder to get here this year because the field was smaller, but I didn’t expect anything less of myself. Having no fans was definitely a huge difference, too.”

Dallastown's Riley Thomas wins the men's 100-yard breaststroke event at 58.08 during swimming action at Northeastern High School in Manchester, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Also for Dallastown, Thomas Smolinski was 13th in the 50 freestyle (:21.52).

Gordon ties for fourth in 100 free: Daniel Gordon didn’t do quite as well as he hoped, but the Spring Grove junior still had a big smile on his face.

Gordon, a junior at Spring Grove, finished in a tie for fourth place in the 100-yard freestyle. Both he and Joshua Bogniard of North Hills touched in :45.65.

Earlier in the meet, Gordon, the top seed in the 50 freestyle, finished sixth (:20.86).

“I know I gained time in the 50 and I was hoping to do better there, but I learned and that’s what swimming’s about, learning every time you swim,” he said. “I was really grateful to have the opportunity to be here. It was a lot of fun.  

“I’m definitely super motivated to get back here next year. My freshman year, I think I got 17th in the 50, my sophomore year I was sixth, this year sixth again, so I hope I’m going to keep continue dropping.”

This year the meet was held as timed finals, instead of preliminaries and finals, so the swimmers knew coming into the meet that they would only swim once.

“Typically, you have the prelims in the morning and the night swim for the medals, but not doing that this year didn’t change the way I raced that much,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to give it my all and have my mind set on it, I worked on a lot of things over and over again. I visualized the race, and at the end of the day, it was going to come down to the final race no matter what.”

The Class 3-A girls competition was held earlier in the day.

Bella Butera fifth in 100 breast: Bella Butera of Red Lion was happily surprised with her fifth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.99). A junior, she was the 10th seed coming into the meet and did not swim in the final heat.

“I’m really happy with my time,” Butera said. “It’s my first time going under 1:04 and I did it at the right time. It’s my personal best time.”

This was her third PIAA meet. Last year, the breaststroke was a timed final but the swimmers were unaware of that at the time. This year, they knew coming into the meet that they would only have one chance to swim.

“I don’t think I did anything different,” Butera said. “Last year I pretty much just swam the best I could and this year I just went in and did my best. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence for next year. I’m just so excited about the time.”  

Camryn Leydig gets pair of medals: Camryn Leydig of Central York earned a pair of medals, finishing sixth in the 100 butterfly (:55.95) and eighth in the 100 backstroke (:56.24).

“I did not swim my best,” said Leydig, a junior. “I’m not happy with how I swam, but I’m glad we had the chance to swim this meet. It was definitely different this year but at least we had it.”

She is the only person from her team at the competition.

“That makes it hard because I don’t have that team environment,” she said. “There was no one in the bleachers and that wasn’t here either, so there wasn’t as much energy.

“I was really happy with my district meet so even though I’m not happy with how states turned out, I still have next year. This really motivates me to work hard and hopefully we’ll be back to normal next year.”

Reach Karen Sangillo at sports@yorkdispatch.com.