By Lisa Byers
January 11, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Meadville and Warren have formed quite the rivalry in girls swimming. And every time the two squads meet, each seems to perform at a different level. The result: Exciting matches year-in and year-out.
Thursday’s Region 3 showdown was no different. But for the first time since Dec. 21, 2010, it was the Lady Dragons coming away as the dual meet victor.
Elin Smith gave Warren a one-point lead with her victory in the 100 backstroke and the Dragons were able to hang on for a thrilling 84-83 win over the Bulldogs at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex.
Warren also won the boys race, 98-70.
Last night’s meet was the third straight contest between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Dragons decided by two points or less. The last time the two teams squared off was at the 2011-12 District 10 Class AAA championships where Meadville finished a point ahead of Warren for second place in the team race.
“It’s definitely a disappointment to lose by one point,” MASH senior Megan Hotchkiss said, “because you know you tried so hard. One second place finish can mess the whole thing up … It’s a battle.”
Warren had the lead just once going into the final three events. That lead came after taking three of the top four spots in the 200 freestyle, but it was short lived.
Mylinda Hartnett put the Bulldogs back on top with a stellar swim in the 200 individual medley. The senior finished with a time of 2:23.98 — just .93 off her District 10 time from a year ago of 2:23.05.
Wins by Heather Sternby in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly and second- and third-place finishes by Maddie Moreland and Paige Whitney in the 100 freestyle extended Meadville’s lead to 11 (51-40). The Bulldogs maintained that cushion thanks to Hotchkiss’ winning effort in the 500 freestyle in 5:59.87 — her first swim under six minutes in that event this season.
But then came the Dragons.
Warren swept the top two spots in the 200 freestyle relay and Smith knocked nearly two minutes off her District 10 time from a year ago in the 100 backstroke to put the Dragons ahead 69-68 with two events remaining.
Hartnett came up with another impressive swim in the 100 breaststroke, winning the event in 1:11.93 (she finished second in that event at districts a year ago in 1:11.79) and then swam anchor in the Bulldogs’ winning 400 freestyle relay, but it wasn’t enough.
“If we had more second and third places coming in we probably would get the win,” Hartnett said. “But we’re getting a lot of first places and they’re getting second and third and that’s where they’re getting their points.”
Meadville fell to 2-3 overall and in Region 3 with the loss. Warren moved to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the region.
“Warren is a team that even when we were back in the (Tri-County Athletic Conference) they were in our conference,” MASH coach Pete Coppelli said. “They have a (YMCA) program and a lot of our kids have come up through the Y program. The kids have always looked forward to facing those teams.”
There is a chance yesterday’s meet could be the last between Warren and Meadville. Because of financial problems at the MARC, there is good chance the Bulldogs program will be without a home pool for the 2013-14 season, and the future of the program is uncertain.
Coppelli said the team is going forward, however, as though nothing changes next season.
“We’re still buying new equipment,” Coppelli said. “We just bought a new electronic pace clock. We got our underwater video system refurbished. We’re going like we’re going forever with no doubts.”
Coppelli said a group of parents are involved and doing what they can.
In the boys race yesterday, one of the most exciting races came between Meadville teammates in the 500 freestyle. Ben Willey and Morgan Leung went back and forth through 20 lengths of the pool.
Willey wound up touching the wall first in 6:02.54. Leung was just over a second behind in 6:03.55.
“Those were both lifetime bests,” Coppelli said. “They battled it out very well. First Morgan Leung had the lead with Ben closing on him. Then Ben had the lead with Morgan closing in. And they train like that and will even harder now.”
Kerwin Moreland also had a nice night. Moreland was back in action for the first time in a few weeks after suffering an injury. He placed first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:05.12 and then swam anchor on the 400 freestyle team that touched the wall first in an exciting finish.
Mike Prinkey also had a first place finish for the Bulldogs in the 50 freestyle.
The boys fell to 2-3 overall and in the region. Warren is now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 3.