Super Six savor swim championship for Mars
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Mars boys swimming team won a state championship.
And it did it in style.
With only the 400 freestyle relay remaining at the PIAA Class AA championship meet, the Planets needed just a conservative eighth-place finish to wrap up the program's first state crown.
Problem was, the 400 freestyle relay was the team's bread-and-butter event all season, and the squad hoped to not only win gold in that event, but possibly challenge the PIAA record. Knowing that an overaggressive start could result in a disqualification and cost Mars the overall team championship, the four swimmers proceeded with some caution — and they still won in 3:12.57, which was better than their WPIAL-championship time of 3:13.72.
“That was the icing on the cake. We only needed to take eighth in it to win the overall championship, but they were not going to let it go down that way,” Mars coach Heidi Brandon said. “They wanted to go out with style. We stressed just safe starts. Their time would have been about two seconds faster had they not been extra cautious.”
Salisbury took an early lead in the relay, but eventually finished third in 3:13.12. Southern Lehigh took silver in 3:13.07. The Planets' foursome of Reed McDonough, Tom Pierre, Christopher Georgiadis and Francis Folz overcame both teams for the gold.
“We knew Salisbury always swam that relay with their fastest swimmers first and their slower swimmers go last, so they can try to build a lead and hold on,” Brandon said. “We have four solid guys who push each other. We know that Francis hates to lose. He is our anchor. If he is close to you, he'll catch you. Reed and Tom needed to be as close as they could be for Christopher and Francis to bring it home for the win.
“It was amazing they still won it. It was a team effort for all four. They all stepped up and did their job.”
Mars won the third team state championship — and first boys title — in school history, joining girls cross country in 1976 and girls soccer in 2011. The squad did it with only six swimmers, as well. Joe Folz and Jimmy Pierre are the other two Planets swimmers.
“I am very thrilled,” Brandon said. “I am so proud of those boys. It's hard to put it into words. Two years ago, we had five guys and finished second. This year, it took six guys to win it.”
On the first day of competition, Georgiadis won an individual gold medal in the 200 individual medley in 1:54.22. Tom Pierre finished seventh (1:57.84) and medaled.
“Many swimmers get to the state meet, and they have a hard time really putting in a good event because they feel so much pressure representing their school,” Brandon said. “Those two did a great job in the 200 individual medley. All the guys did so well.”
The Planets' 200 medley relay team of Tom Pierre, Francis Folz, McDonough and Georgiadis finished fourth. Francis Folz finished eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:44.67), and McDonough was 11th in the 50 freestyle (22.02).
On the second day of the championship meet, Francis Folz took fourth in the 100 freestyle (47.04), Tom Pierre was sixth in the 500 freestyle (4:44.56), and Georgiadis was 11th in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.8).
“Our first goal coming into the season, we thought we had a chance to win a section title and we had never won one before,” Brandon said. “Once we did that, we thought we might have a shot at WPIALs and maybe even of winning it.
“To go to the state meet and feel we were in contention as well is exciting. It took a lot of effort out of everybody, including the parents, families and coaches to get them focused. There were a lot of days they were looking past dual-season meets.”
On the girls side, Mars freshman diver Taylor Hockenberry finished sixth (369.4).
“She did really, really well for a freshman,” Brandon said. “She did a nice job.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
- Accident closes Route 22 in Murrysville
- In 2005, Cosby said he got drugs to give women for sex
- Pawlowski halts his U.S. Senate campaign
- McCandless mom suspected of drowning sons found competent to stand trial
- Torn thumb ligament puts Josh Harrison on DL
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- South Carolina Senate backs removing Confederate batte flag from Statehouse grounds
- Militants launch deadly attacks against Muslims, Christians in Nigeria
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Fake urine merchant sentenced to probation