Harkins leads Quaker Valley into PIAA meet
Quaker Valley senior Harry Harkins had no firm goals heading into the PIAA Class AA boys swimming championship meet Thursday and Friday at Bucknell.
“I'm just going to try to do what I did at WPIALs: give it my all, and make a memorable last high school meet,” he said.
Harkins came in first in the 50-yard freestyle (21.33 seconds) and 100 freestyle (46.74) events at the WPIAL championship March 2-3 at Pitt. He was seeded fifth in both at the PIAA meet.
He anchored the winning 200 freestyle relay (1 minute, 29.84 seconds) and the 200 medley relay (1:40.45) that placed third.
He carried the Quakers to their third consecutive WPIAL title and raised their hopes for a top-10 finish at states. The Quakers were PIAA champion in 2015 with Harkins as a contributor.
“As (a) senior and team captain, I knew it was my role to lead,” he said.
Quakers first-year coach Jacinta Batisky said Harkins has been indispensable.
“Drawing on his previous years of experience, he seemed to have taken precise notes (on) things such as preseason captain's practices, pre-meet psych-up routine and even (the) hair-dying ritual,” she said. “He has been a constant and reliable leader for this team.”
Harkins was proud how every one contributed to the WPIAL championship.
“It took an enormous team effort,” he said.
The meet came down to the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, which Harkins enjoyed watching.
“This was actually my first WPIALs in which I did not compete in the 400 freestyle relay,” he said. “Being able to watch my teammates place high enough to give us the win was extremely exciting.”
Harkins was surprised by his two individual victories.
“I just wanted to swim personal-best times and place in the top three,” he said. “When I touched the wall and saw I had won the 50, I was in disbelief.
“Going into the 100, I was even more nervous than before because it felt as if there were more expectations on me.”
Harkins holds school records in both events.
“Looking at the (Quaker Valley) record board, it's obvious Harry has been one of the most talented athletes (to) have come through the boys program,” Batisky said, adding she trusts him to know how to win.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.