Meadville swimmer Ashley Whitehead picked up wins in the 50 and 100 free during the Bulldogs’ Region 3 dual meet with McDowell on Thursday at the Meadville Recreation Complex. The Trojans’ depth was too much for Meadville, as McDowell won both the boys and girls meets by identical 113-70 scores.


That’s all a usually outspoken John Bailey could say … at least for a brief moment.

“I want to explain something,” the Meadville swimmer eventually continued. “On February 2, 2005 we won a 94-92 victory over McDowell.”

“But we didn’t win the 200 medley relay that night,” added fellow captain Camden Coppelli.

“Yeah. We didn’t win the medley,” chimed in Bailey.

That was then. This is now.

Meadville avenged that loss in the 200 medley relay Thursday, opening its Region 3 clash with perennial power McDowell with an explosive one second win over the Trojans. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs couldn’t put together the same end result as two years ago with the boys and girls teams suffering identical 113-70 losses to McDowell.

That win in the 200 medley relay combined with some other outstanding individual performances, including Jason Erdeljac’s record-breaking diving effort, though, was enough for the Bulldogs.

“That’s really our focus when we swim McDowell,” Bailey said. “It’s always best times. Them and (Cathedral) Prep. They’re the best teams we’re going to see all year. So we really get up for them. It’s good to see everyone did such a good job.”

The start of last night’s meet probably couldn’t have been more exciting, starting with the boys 200 medley relay. Bailey gave the Bulldogs a slight lead during the backstroke leg. But things really started to even up during the breaststroke and butterfly before Coppelli pulled away in the freestyle, tapping the wall in 1:43.59 to beat McDowell (1:44.53).

The excitement continued in the girls 200 individual medley with Meadville’s Stephanie Steider and McDowell’s Colleen Harriger and Coleen Sheldon flying out of the gate simultaneously. The defending District 10 champion in the 200 IM, Steider eventually broke rank, extending her lead in the breaststroke before pulling away in the freestyle to beat Harriger (2:19.64) with a time of 2:18.11.

That event was followed by the 50 freestyle that saw McDowell’s Jackie Rzymek and Meadville’s Ashley Whitehead and Katie Steider touching the wall within .14 seconds of each other. Whitehead won the race in 25.33, followed by Steider (25.38) and Rzymek (25.47).

Then came the diving portion of the meet. Erdeljac had already broken the school record twice heading into the meet, setting the latest mark at 307.55 on Dec. 11 against Erie East. He scorched that mark last night with a score of 318.55.

“I haven’t even changed the record from last year yet,” MASH swimming coach Pete Coppelli said. “And I don’t feel too bad. It would have just been a waste of time, because every time he comes in here he breaks it.”

Erdeljac, the boys 200 medley relay team of Bailey, Mike Kilburn, Kyle Balombini and Coppelli, Stephanie Steider and Whitehead were among the 10 event winners for MASH. Also pulling out victories were: Whitehead (100 freestyle), Katie Steider (100 backstroke), Coppelli (50 and 100 freestyles) and Bailey (100 fly, 100 back).

“We were really excited for this meet,” said Katie Steider. “We were hoping maybe this year we would have a really good meet, which it was. The score just wasn’t close. I think everyone was pleased. We had a lot of good swims, a lot of close races and a lot of times when we were able to pull out a win. That was really good. This was a really good meet.”

Coach Coppelli couldn’t agree more.

“That’s the main thing. McDowell is a team that every year they have a good team. When we’re swimming McDowell, the kids are excited about it and that brings the best out of it. We saw some lifetime bests, some season bests. It really was a good meet.”

And as far as 2-2-05, “We’ll get them at districts,” Bailey said.

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