Cocalico sends three swimmers to States Marino, Evans sisters qualify in two events each from Districts
By: TODD RUTH & BRUCE MORGAN Review Staff, Staff Writer
Samantha Marino is sort of the unsung hero of the Cocalico girls swim team.
While she was a major contributor all season long for the Lady Eagles, sisters Olivia and Sidney Evans have gotten the majority of the ink for their performances in the pool.
However, this past weekend at the District Three Meet, it was Marino’s moment to shine. And while the Evans sisters certainly did their part, it was Marino who led the way by winning a pair of bronze medals at the competition.
Marino placed third in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:52.57, and also was third in the 100 back (57.78), edging Olivia Evans (57.92), who finished fourth. Olivia Evans also placed eighth in the 100 fly (58.26), while Sidney Evans was sixth in the 500 free (5:08.82) and seventh in the 200 I.M. (2:09.61).
All three swimmers qualified for States in all of those events.
That trio also teamed with senior Layne Gable to set the school record in the 400 free relay. The team finished ninth overall with a time of 3:38.31, and placed seventh in the 200 medley relay (1:51.24).
"Absolutely," Cocalico Coach Matt Woods said when asked if he agreed it was Marino’s coming out party. "Last year she was coming off an injury, she wasn’t in the shape that she was this year in the beginning of the season last year. And like I said before, she was kinda under the radar, under the radar, but not anymore. She’s an unbelievable swimmer. It’s great to see her get those accolades as a sophomore. She’s only going to get better. Great kid, bubbly, works hard. Good teammate, she swims whatever. She’s a lot of fun to have on the team."
While Marino, Gable and the Evanses were the lone girls competing for the Lady Eagles, their performances were good enough for Cocalico to finish eighth overall in the team standings race with 125 points. Hershey won the meet with 390, followed by runner-up Wilson (228), Hempfield (208) and Warwick (153).
"Four girls swam for us and we (finished eighth)," Woods said. "That just shows you how great those four girls are right now. (Olivia Evans) and (Gable) we’ve had for four years and they just did so much for the team. So for those four girls to come into this meet and do that is unbelievable."
But Marino clearly shined this weekend. She began Districts Friday night in the 200 free, where she faced some tough competition in Hershey superstar Meaghan Raab, her teammate Maggie Lee and Paige Daniel of Manheim Central, among others.
Raab built a commanding lead and touched the wall in 1:45.93. That left Daniel, Marino and Lee to battle for the silver, and Daniel (1:52.49), in lane three, edged out the Lady Eagles’ sophomore (1:52.57), who was competing in lane two, for the runner-up spot. Lee was a close fourth in 1:52.60 from lane six.
Marino acknowledged that the race was really for second place with Raab on another level.
"Hands down it was a race for second place and everyone knew going into that. She’s so good and we all just hoped to keep up with her. I wanted to get that third spot, I wanted to beat my time and that’s exactly what I did. I was extremely happy with that."
Woods said he was impressed by the sophomore.
"She swam awesome," Woods said. "That’s a personal best for her, it’s a team record for Cocalico, so she swam really well. She said she wanted to go out in 26.0 and that’s exactly what she did. Good turns are her thing and she just held on and swam really well. With how fast our state is, getting that top three spot is so crucial because you never know how fast other Districts are going to swim. So that automatic berth is huge for her that she’s in there for that. She’s excited. It was a great swim."
Marino added that with the automatic berth that goes to the top three finishers, it eased her mind for the rest of the weekend.
As for Woods, he said he saw her potential and knew Marino was quite capable of that kind of a performance.
"Oh absolutely," he said. "She had the school record before, so she broke her own record. During the season, with (Olivia Evans) and (Gable) and (Sidney Evans), even though she made States last year, she was kind of under the radar a little bit. She’s always been a great swimmer, but it’s awesome that she was able to break out, get that top three finish and really kind of show everybody what she’s made of, so that was really cool."
Saturday in the 100 back, one of Marino’s biggest challengers was teammate Olivia Evans. Alexandra Rockett of Wilson wasn’t going to be caught, setting a new meet record to win the gold with a time of 55.11.
However, it was a tight race for second among four swimmers, including Marino, who was in lane 8, and Evans. Alyssa Bixler of Dallastown had enough to grab second with a time of 57.47, while Marino was third (57.78), Evans was fourth (57.92) and Steph Mauer of Lower Dauphin took fifth (58.01).
"That was great," Marino said of her race. "It was more than I expected to do and I was just happy to not have to sweat it out and worry about (qualifying) like I did last year. It was a good time. I just tried to work my walls and just swim as fast as I can."
Woods said it was quite an accomplishment to have two swimmers in the top four.
"It’s amazing to go 3-4 in an event this big, (with) competition like this," he said. "These girls are phenomenal. Sam coming out of the outside lane and pulling out third is really cool. They both went faster than they went last year at this meet, so they’re excited with their times and both are happy to go 3-4 and I’m sure they’ll both be looking to go a little faster and medal at the State meet. So they’re excited."
Olivia Evans said she was pleased with her time.
"I’m happy with it," she said. "It’s just more motivation for States. I was more concerned about placing. It’s my senior year so I wanted to see how high I could place and see if I could top last year’s, so I’m happy with it."
It was the second medal of the meet for Olivia Evans, who earned her eighth place Friday night in the 100 fly.
Sidney Evans, meanwhile, swam to a seventh place finish in the 200 freestyle Friday night before closing out her individual events with her sixth-place showing in the 500 free Saturday, coming from the third of four heats.
"I liked my (500) time," she said. "It wasn’t my best, but it was right on my best, so I was happy to do it at a high school meet. And it was really nice coming from the heat before and still being able to place."
"That was awesome," Woods said of Sidney’s performance in the 500. "Last year she swam backstroke here and I guess she just wanted to change it up and the 500 was working for her and she’s one of those kids that the longer event, the better she is at it. If there was a mile, she would probably swim it. If there was 400 I.M., she’d swim it. Anything 200 and over, she’s going to excel at. In the 500, she goes out and every 50 is just hard work. She doesn’t take a turn off, she doesn’t take anything off. She puts a lot of time and effort into it. She’s quiet, so it’s cool to see her have that success."
And while Gable wasn’t able to advance individually, she was excited to do her part in helping set the 400 free relay record at Cocalico.
"It was really, really nice (to get the school record)," she said. "We’ve been working so hard and we work really, really well together. It was one of our goals the whole season, so it feels awesome to set the school record."
As for Ephrata, none of its swimmers advanced high enough in any of their events to qualify for States. However, senior Katie Zell did place 13th in the 200 I.M. with a time of 2:12.35, and was 14th in the 100 breast (1:09.19).
Zell also anchored the 400 free relay squad from Ephrata, which also included Madison Walmer, Brittany Reeder and Kyra Valent. That foursome finished 13th overall in a time of 3:49.78.
And over on the boys’ side, Cocalico junior Collin Haines was the lone local swimmer competing. Haines placed 12th in the District in the 100 free with a time of 48.95, and was 13th overall in the 200 I.M. (2:01.48).
The AAA State Meet will be held March 15 & 16 at Bucknell University. More SWIMMERS, page B-3