Parsons goes out in style Wins first State medal, placing sixth in 200 free
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Kylee Parsons will leave Ephrata High school as one of the most decorated swimmers in its history. However, the one thing that had eluded her up to this point was a State medal.
This past week, the EHS senior, in her final try, cleared that elusive hurdle on the first day of the State AAA Championships held at Kinney Natatorium on the campus of Bucknell University.
Parsons, who was seeded 25th coming into the girls 200 free, shaved nearly two and a half seconds off her seeding time with a swim of 1:53.09 to capture the sixth-place medal in that event.
"It wasn’t my best time, but I was happy with the medal," the EHS senior said. "It’s really exciting. It’s nice to finally accomplish it and have all my hard work pay off."
Ephrata Coach Barry Erb, who is retiring as coach, said he was proud of his senior swimmer.
"I’m very proud. It’s my last year and I was glad to see her do it," he said.
According to Erb, he believes Parsons was extra motivated this year to win a medal, since it was her last chance.
"I think that had a lot to do with it," he said. "She really was happy when she saw that she got in the finals and knew that she had a medal. If you get in the finals, it doesn’t matter what you do at night – you’ve got a medal. You’re at least eight place. But then she got better than (her seed), so that’s even better. I think that motivated her somewhat that this was her last year. She had been here every year from her freshman year, but never had gotten that goal (of winning a State medal) yet. She got it this year."
Parsons agreed with her coach.
" It motivated me a lot," she said. "Ever since my freshman year when I first made States, I wanted to get a medal. First I wanted to make finals, like just be able to be in the top 16 and come back at night since I did it my first year. And then after that, I just knew that I wanted to get a medal. So it was a lot of motivation for me. It’s my last year and I wanted to go out on a good note and just have fun with it."
She ended the suspense early Wednesday when she finished seventh in the prelims with a time of 1:53.65 to gain a spot in Wednesday evening’s finals.
"I was happy that she finally got in (to the finals) but I was surprised she got in from where she was," Erb said. "That was the surprise. In the heat she was swimming, there was nobody pushing her, she was all alone. So she had to do it on her own, which was good."
But Parsons wasn’t finished, and bettered her time to place sixth in the race won by Hershey’s Meaghan Raab, who set a state meet record with a blistering time of 1:45.10.
With one medal already under her belt, Parsons, who will be headed to Georgia Southern in the fall, set her sights on winning a second Thursday in the 500 free. She came in as the 10th seed (5:04.95) but never seemed to find her stride. Parsons wound up 15th with a time of 5:08.71, which did qualify her for the consolation finals where she would eventually finish 16th with a time of 5:10.71.
"I don’t know what happened. It was just a bad swim," she said following her night swim.
While Parsons was the lone representative competing from Ephrata, Cocalico sent three swimmers to the championships.
Junior Olivia Evans competed in two events, placing 11th in the 100 backstroke (57.60 in consi-finals) and 21st in the 100 fly (58.88). Freshman Samantha Marino joined Evans in the 100 back and placed a respectable 17th (58.94) in her first State Meet. And senior Sawyer Martin represented the Eagles on the boys’ side, making the consolation finals in the boys 200 freestyle before finishing in 16th place with a time of 1:44.29.
Reached Tuesday, Cocalico Coach Matt Woods was pleased with all three swimmers.
"(All three) swam very well," he said. "Going from the district meet into the State Meet is a tough thing to do. Very few swimmers can go through the District Meet not tapered and make the State Meet. The times in our state are just too fast to take that risk. A big challenge for these kids is not only performing well enough at Districts to get there, but holding that taper and trying swim faster at states."
For Evans, Woods is hoping she takes a lot of confidence into next year off this performance.
"Liv had a great meet," he said. "Her 58 in fly at Districts was a big confidence booster for her. Then to be able to do another 58 at States is big. Even though it’s not her favorite stroke, I hope that success will push her to continue to work at it, and maybe get into finals next year in fly. In back, Liv had a solid swim/time in the morning, but she expects a lot from herself and I know she was looking to make that A final. But she came back and swam a 57.6, which was her first 57, a best time, a school record, and good enough for her to achieve all-state in that event. She could not have swam a better race. Every year she seems to be more comfortable and do better at this meet, and I’m hoping that last swim will jumpstart her on getting that State medal next year."
Martin closed out his high school career in style with a school record time in the 200 consolation finals.
"Sawyer had a solid morning swim in the 200," "He looked like he was back to his normal form, going pretty close to his league winning time at a 1:44.29. He finished 16th in the morning, the top 16 make it back to finals, and the 17th swimmer had a 1:44.30. Then in the evening we finally saw a healthy, attacking Sawyer. He went out really well in the first 100, and held the second 100 together really well. His 1:42.73 is a new school record, and a personal best time for him."
As for Marino, Woods said it was all about the experience of States for her first time around.
"I was really happy that Sam made this meet," he said. "Just to be up there as a freshman, to see what the routine is, how the meet is run, and where she needs to be to get back there and perform well is great experience. Then to swim a best time (58.94) just missing the finals (finished 17th) is very impressive."
Staff writer Bruce Morgan contributed to this article. More PARSONS, page B-4