Trojan girls rule the pool again
Another year, another District 11 swimming championship for the Parkland High School girls.
The Parkland girls have now won five straight district titles and eight of the last nine after capturing this year's championship this past weekend. The girls won the title by 114 points over second place Emmaus, while the boys fell 44 points short of catching Emmaus in their annual battle for the top spot.
Senior Megan Polaha was the big winner at the district meet, where she was presented with both the Lehigh Valley Conference Swimmer of the Year Award and the Dennis A. McGinley Award as the best female swimmer in the District 11 championships. Polaha qualified for the PIAA meet in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly as an individual and was also part of the 400-yard freestyle relay.
"Honestly, I kind of forgot about the two awards, but when my coach told me that I won both of them, it was exciting for me," said Polaha after the awards ceremony.
Polaha has a lofty goal for the PIAA meet coming up later this month - "I hope to set my best times in both of my individual events."
Erin Jordan also had a strong meet, qualifying for states in the 100-yard backstroke and finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle. Jordan, who is only a sophomore, will be making her second trip to states this year and believes she's improved over last season.
"I definitely trained a lot harder this year and I was a lot less nervous than I was last year," said Jordan about how she improved her approach this season over last season.
On the boys side, Christopher Strauss got things off to a good start for Parkland when he captured the 200-yard freestyle, with a time of 1:41.81, just 0.45 seconds off the district record time. Strauss was also part of the 200-yard freestyle relay team, which also featured Mitchell Keller, Adam Sicinski and Alexander Bukoski, that took first place in that event to qualify for the PIAA meet.
Strauss struck again on Saturday, teaming with Colin Orlowski, Harris Nagle and Rhett Karopoulos in the 400-yard freestyle relay, to capture first place and a place in the PIAA meet.
"We were hoping to make a run for a title on the boys side and the boys swam fantastic. I thought the girls swam well, too," said coach Rob Robitaille. "You can't fault the district for all having great swims on the girls side. We knew there was going to be parity and we knew it was going to be spread out, which makes for an exciting meet."
Robitaille credited all of his swimmers for competing hard and showing that the school's swimming program is strong and can compete even though the district has upped the level of competition over the past couple of years.
Heading into states, Robitaille believes his swimmers will again respond to the challenge and have the potential to come home with some medals.
"I look for good things for our girls relay teams and a lot of good individual performances from our seniors," he said. "On the guys side, I'm just looking for good performances all around. This is one of our better boys performances in year. I know the score doesn't reflect it, but it's still one of the better performances the guys have put on in like eight years."
In all, Parkland is sending 17 swimmers and divers to the PIAA meet, the most of any school in District 11.
The PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships will be held for Class 3A schools on March 15 and 16 at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.