Quaker Valley boys capture 3rd straight WPIAL title
After earning its third straight WPIAL title in a nail-biter, the Quaker Valley boys swimming team looks ahead to the PIAA Class AA championship meet next week at Bucknell in Lewisburg.
The Quakers needed a strong showing in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final event, to take first place at the WPIAL championship last week at Pitt. The Quakers had 188 points to second-place Laurel Highlands' 175.
“I still can't believe we were able to pull off the three-peat,” senior Harry Harkins said. “It took an enormous team effort to do so.”
“I knew we would have to go deeper down the bench, and I challenged them to go beyond simply qualifying,” first-year coach Jacinta Batisky said.
Harkins led the Quakers with victories in the 50 freestyle (21.33 seconds) and 100 freestyle (46.74). He anchored the winning 200 freestyle relay of juniors Kevin Bergdoll and Michael Parker and sophomore Andres Hubsch (1 minute, 29.84 seconds).
Hubsch was second in the 100 backstroke (55.35) and sixth in the 100 butterfly (54.20).
“I am very proud of the way I swam, as well as how the team swam,” Hubsch said. “As for states, I want to see if I can make finals in my (individual events). I also want to see our relays step up and show what we can do.”
The 400 freestyle relay of Bergdoll, Parker, junior Ben Mastrorocco and senior Neil Rana reached the podium by finishing eighth (3:30.28).
The 200 medley relay of Hubsch, Bergdoll, junior Declan McGranahan and Harkins was third (1:40.45).
McGranahan, Mastrorocco and Bergdoll were among individual scorers.
The Quakers girls team placed third for the second time in three seasons.
Senior Maddy Andrews won gold medals in the 200 freestyle (1:50.71) and 500 freestyle (4:57.53) and anchored the 200 freestyle (1:39.24) and 400 freestyle (3:37.77) relays that came in first and second, respectively.
Freshmen Sophie Besterman and Alyse Ray and senior Amelia Besterman also were in the relays.
“My final WPIALs was amazing,” said Andrews, a Bowling Green recruit. “I'm going to get back into training to get ready for states.”
Amelia Besterman was third in the 500 freestyle (5:07.57) and fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:10.47).
“This was by far my best WPIAL experience,” Amelia said. “I had all my best times, but the best part was taking first and second place in the relays.”
Sophie Besterman said winning in the relay was probably one of the most exciting moments of her life.
The 200 medley relay of sophomore Erin Glas, Sophie Besterman, Ray and sophomore Amber Huang placed ninth (1:57.75) and also scored. Ray tallied points individually.
Batisky, who guides the girls as well as the boys, hopes for top-10 finishes from both squads at the PIAA meet.
The boys were PIAA champion in 2015.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.