Article by Kathryn Fitzgerald, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel
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Practice and dedication are key components to finding a win.
Mechanicsburg’s Caitlin Wieden and Katelyn Kopacko are both freshman that made a splash in the girls 87-83 win over Lower Dauphin. For them, there is no such thing as an offseason as both participate in club swimming, which can make a large difference for the team.
“As the club kids come up through, the team will start developing and being a lot stronger than they are,” Wildcats coach Greg Bryant said. “We have returning juniors, seniors and sophomores but they aren’t year-round swimmers and it really, really hurts the high school program. You can only do so good when you’re here.”
The Wildcats were ahead after wins in the 200 medley and Wieden’s victory in the 200 free when Lower Dauphin tied it up in the 200 IM. The teams stayed tied until Wieden pulled away with the win in the 100 fly along with Haley Crownover in third and Montana Thomson in fifth.
Lower Dauphin then edged back towards a win with multiple third-place finishes before Mechanicsburg secured the win with a first place finish in the 100 breast from Kopacko and a second place in the 400 free relay from the team of Kopacko, Weiden, Paige Henry and Maddie Darr.
On the boys side, Lower Dauphin swept the meet 104-66 as its depth proved too much for Mechanicsburg.
“I’m very happy with our boys depth this year,” Lower Dauphin coach Cari Zelko said. “We’ve brought in some new swimmers some new freshmen, some sophomores even new to swimming. It’s some big points.”
The Wildcat boys found only two first place finishes. Ian Ibberson placed first in the 50 free with just .20 seconds to spare and the team of Jared Rebman, Andrew Salerno, Zach Waldman and Colby Fronk edged past Lower Dauphin for the win in the 200 free relay with .02 seconds between them and second place.
The 200 medley relay ‘B’ team found third with .11 to spare. In reverse, Fronk fell just short in the 100 free by .10.
“Lower Dauphin had some pretty good, strong kids, they always do,” Bryant said. “Some of them are year round swimmers which makes a big difference. As a high school develops and you get more of the year round swimmers the team gets stronger, that’s just the way it goes.”
With this win and their earlier defeat of Susquehanna Twp., the Lower Dauphin boys are firmly placed at the top of the Keystone division while Mechanicsburg hovers in the middle.
The Wildcat girls will take this win to continue the fight for second against Bishop McDevitt who they face next Tuesday.
Mechanicsburg girls 87, Lower Dauphin 83
200 medley: MEC (Paige Henry, Katelyn Kopacko, Hayley Crownover, Rachel Calcara) 2:03.67. 200 free: 1. Caitlin Wieden (MEC) 2:09.53. 200 IM: 1. Steff Maurer (LD) 2:22.49. 50 free: 1. Maddie Darr (MEC) 28.81. 100 fly: Wieden (MEC) 1:05.51. 100 free: Calcara (MEC) 1:01.10.500 free: Kopacko (MEC) 6:11.77. 200 free relay: MEC (Darr, Crownover, Calcara, Wieden) 1:53.28. 100 back: Maurer (LD) 1:01.67. 100 breast: Kopacko (MEC) 1:18.89. 400 free relay: LD (Amber Zelko, Lexi Osman, Krista Peachey, Maurer) 4:02.59.
Lower Dauphin boys 104, Mechanicsburg 66
200 medley: LD (Zach Lauer, Austin Lauer, Adam Brock, Caleb Walters) 1:49.71. 200 free: Brock (LD) 2:01.20. 200 IM: Z. Lauer (LD) 2:08.99. 50 free: Ian Ibberson (MEC) 25.47. 100 fly: A. Lauer (LD) 57.69. 100 free: Brock (LD) 55.24. 500 free: Walters (LD) 5:18.22. 200 free relay:MEC (Jared Rebman, Andrew Salerno, Zach Waldman, Colby Fronk) 1:42.42. 100 back: Z. Laure (LD) 56.26. 100 breast: A. Lauer (LD) 1:08.42. 400 free relay: LD (Z. Lauer, A. Lauer, Brock, Walters) 3:41.12.