Cocalico boys win battle of unbeatens

By on January 31, 2018
Cocalico’s Michael White cruises along during the 200 free Tuesday vs. Conestoga Valley. Photo by Travis Boyd

Cocalico’s Michael White cruises along during the 200 free Tuesday vs. Conestoga Valley. Photo by Travis Boyd

The Cocalico boys’ swim team clinched a tie for the Section Two championship Tuesday afternoon at the Ephrata Recreation Center, pulling away from previously-unbeaten Conestoga Valley by a 95-75 margin.

The win earned the Eagles a split in the dual meet as the Lady Buckskins topped the Lady Eagles 115-55 on Cocalico’s Senior Night.

If the Cocalico boys’ (5-0 League, 8-1 overall) defeat Lancaster Catholic (2-3, 3-5) Thursday afternoon at Franklin and Marshall College, they will complete an undefeated league season and win the Section Two title outright.

The Buckskins led 10-4 after the opening 200 medley relay, then stretched and maintained the lead at 10 points through the third event, the 200 individual medley, all events won by CV. The score at that point was Conestoga Valley 28, Cocalico 18.

“We knew one of their top swimmers could be put in any position and do very well,” explained Cocalico Coach Kylie Turner. “With that, it wasn’t necessarily surprising (the early CV lead). We knew that our swimmers had to pick it up toward the middle and end of the meet.”

And pick it up they did.

The Eagles finished first, third and fourth in the 50 freestyle sprint with senior co-captain Colin Higinbotham touching with the lead in 22.74. The 11 team points closed the gap to four at 29-33.

“We put everything we’ve got into it,” added Higinbotham, who bested CV’s Nikolas Pham by only two-tenths of a second. “We can’t get out-touched. Give it your all. That’s the best you can do.”

The Buckskins carried that lead into the break, during which five seniors (Higinbotham, fellow co-captain Jacob Musselman, Mark Ilgenfritz, Addison Styer and Michael White), and their parents were honored.

“It feels amazing,” described Musselman. “It’s the last time we’ll swim in this pool with this crowd. It’s just a feeling you can’t describe.”

The first race after the break was another razor-thin finish, and one that wiped out the CV lead for the last time. And when Higinbotham was once again the first to touch the wall in the 100 butterfly at 56.18 (a win by .09 seconds), the team score was knotted at 39.

The Bucks won the next three individual events, and yet the Eagles’ depth kept the team score in check. When Cocalico finished first and third in the 200 freestyle relay and duplicated that triumph in the 100 breaststroke, the lead was bumped to 85-71, an unsurmountable advantage going into the final event.

The highlight of the 100 breast event was a school record performance by sophomore Zach Sherk, who finished in 1:00.3.

“That was the second time in the last two weeks that Zach broke the record,” noted Turner. “He’s aiming for under a minute. Mark Ilgenfritz also set a personal record in the backstroke. He really stepped up for us tonight.”

The final relay swim was anticlimactic, as the Eagles rolled to a 19-second victory in the 400 Freestyle relay, completing the 95-75 win. There was a boys’ team picture taken, but no celebration yet, as explained by coach Turner.

“I told the boys today, we’re not done yet,” she said. “We’ve got one more meet. We haven’t sealed the championship yet.”

GIRLS MEET

This one was one-sided from the beginning as Conestoga Valley (3-2 league, 4-4 overall) swept all three relays and won seven of eight individual events. Cocalico’s (1-4, 2-7) only win came in the 100 breaststroke when junior Natalee Boronow touched the wall first in 1:17.68.

A CV sweep of the top three spots in the 50 Free increased the Lady Buckskins lead to 42-20 at the break.

Seniors Katie Carrasco, Sarah Gehlert, and Captain Sarah Register, along with their parents, were honored at that time.

“I feel like we all swam our personal bests, even if they weren’t the best times,” assessed Register after the meet. “We tried our hardest and pulled together and did a good job.”

The Lady Eagles did accumulate seven of 16 team points in three events. Strong finishes by Boronow (100 Breast), soph Elise Westhafer (second, 200 Free), Register (third, 200 Free), junior Olivia Taylor (second, 100 backstroke), junior Rachel Gehr (third, 100 Back) and Carrasco (second, 200 IM) led to team points and top three finishes.

After Thursday’s meet at Lancaster Catholic, the girls also move on the League Meet and postseason events.

“We all have times that we can drop and hopefully will drop,” added Register. “Even the people that aren’t going to Leagues and Districts will all work to be a better team next year.”

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