By Pete Chiodo
The girls 100-yard butterfly event at the District 10 Class AAA swim meet wasn’t exactly a full card, with just three competitors qualifying.
Maybe the rest were trying to avoid racing against Heather Sternby?
The Meadville senior and two-time event champion was the clear favorite heading into the sparsely populated event. And she did not let the MASH fans down as she brought home her third D-10 gold medal, winning the race in 1:03.40 during Friday’s opening session of the Triple-A championships at Penn State-Behrend’s Junker Center.
“We’ve never really had a whole lot of butterflyers,” said Sternby. “I guess that’s lucky for me though.”
Sternby entered with a good seven-second lead on the psych sheet over her next closest competitor. She ended up winning by a little more than four seconds over Warren’s Mandy Fehlman.
“I kind of felt more relaxed because there was more of a time difference this year than previous years,” Sternby said. “It wasn’t one of my best times, but it wasn’t bad. It was decent.”
Sternby now moves on to the PIAA state meet, which takes place March 12 to 14 at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. Some of her teammates will look to join her when the Class AAA championships resume today at 9:30 a.m. back at the Junker Center.
“Hopefully we’ll get some more qualified (today) and have some more best times,” said Meadville head coach Pete Coppelli.
MASH just missed out on state berths in a few other events yesterday.
In the girls 50-yard freestyle, Meadville senior Mackenzie Webber beat top-seeded Jessica Cauley of McDowell to the wall. Yet she was one-tenth of a second behind DuBois freshman and third-seed Gabrielle Wayne who won the event in 24.70. Webber was second in 24.80.
“That’s how the 50 goes sometimes,” said Coppelli. “One little thing goes wrong, or one thing goes right and that’s the difference.”
Wayne also swam the anchor leg in the 200 yard freestyle relay, beating the Meadville team of Webber, Sternby, Paige Whitney and Maddie Moreland to the wall to hand the top-seeded Bulldogs second place. DuBois finished in 1:44.12 — led by third-leg swimmer Melia Andrulonis’ blazing split time of 22.89 — while Meadville finished in 1:44.99.
“We were seeded first, so we were excited,” said Sternby, who swam the second leg for the Bulldogs. “But we all swam our best time. It was pretty good. We all did our best.”
The Meadville girls also picked up a second place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. The Warren team had the second-best time, but was disqualified for leaving the blocks too early. So, second went to the MASH crew of Moreland, Alysha Kelyman, Abigail Kusko and Whitney with a time of 2:07.20, dropping a little more than six seconds of its seed time. The McDowell team won the race in 1:54.59.
Kelyman added a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM (2:33.54). Whitney was eighth in the 50 free (28.41).
For the Meadville boys team, Eric Ziegler finished eighth in the 200 IM (2:11.73).
“Eric Ziegler in the 200 IM had a nice (time) drop,” said Coppelli. “That was a three-second drop for him. And he actually came down during the season. His 2:14 (seed time) was about a second faster than last year coming into districts, and then he dropped three more seconds off of that. So he had a big one.”
Nick Sternby was ninth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.66). Kerwin Moreland finished 10th in the 200 yard freestyle (1:56.25). And Matt Lazusky added an 11th place finish in the IM in 2:30.21.
In the boys 200-yard medley relay, the Cathedral Prep squad of Rex Riley, Joe Marin, Reid Morrison and Andrew Britton won the title with a record-setting swim of 1:34.76, beating the previous best time of 1:35.00 set in 2009 by that year’s Prep contingent.
The Meadville team — Sternby, Morgan Leung, Ziegler and Louis McUmber — finished the 200 medley relay in fourth place with a time of 1:50.73.
The 200 free relay squad of Moreland, McUmber, Evan Weston and Leung was fifth with a time of 1:39.46.