Sherk delivers pair of District golds

By on March 6, 2019
Cocalico’s Zach Sherk cruises along on his way to winning the gold medal in the 100 breaststroke Sat-urday at the District Three Championships at Cumberland Valley High School. Sherk also won gold in the 50 free and claimed four total medals at the meet. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Zach Sherk cruises along on his way to winning the gold medal in the 100 breaststroke Sat-urday at the District Three Championships at Cumberland Valley High School. Sherk also won gold in the 50 free and claimed four total medals at the meet. Photo by Missi Mortimer
Zachary Sherk, 100 Breaststroke

The weekend of Feb. 8-9 was a miserable time for Zach Sherk.

Sherk was sick, so ill in fact that he was forced to miss the L-L League Championships. To make matters worse, while watching from the sidelines, the Cocalico junior saw Cedar Crest freshman Logan Smith break his league record in the 100 breaststroke.

“Missing leagues, it was kind of an unfortunate time,” Sherk said Friday. “But watching my record get broken, that only pushed me further. I was happy when he did it.”

With Smith’s new record inspiring him, Sherk got back in the pool about two weeks later looking to make up for his missed opportunities at the L-Ls.

And boy did he deliver.

After claiming three medals, including a gold in the 50 free (21.81) Friday, Sherk finished off his Districts in style Saturday, successfully defending his Class 2A title in the the 100 breaststroke with a near-record time of 58.13.

Mission accomplished.

“After I got back in my routine (following my sickness), I had two weeks to prep for this meet. I made sure I spent all the time I had in the pool to be very prepared for this meet. And it showed out (this weekend),” Sherk said.

While Sherk claimed a pair of individual titles, he also was part of two other medal-winning relays as the team of Ryan Brubaker, Sherk, Nic Molignoni and Robert Gehman earned silver in the 200 medley relay (1:41.62) while that same foursome took home the fifth-place medal in the 200 free relay. Add in Molignoni’s seventh-place medal in the 100 fly (56.48) and the Eagles finished the weekend in eighth place with 131 team points.

“Oh my gosh, we had a great weekend,” Cocalico Coach Wendy Enck said. “We had six boys entered and going into the last relay, we were in fifth place. So that’s amazing. And they told us last year, they got second, and I said, ‘Yeah, but you guys also had 10, 12 boys entered.’ We had a great day (Friday). Today was a little bit down. We had some times that mirrored best times, but they still were hoping to do a little better. But I’m so proud of them. I’m thrilled, we had a great year. The boys hopefully made States I think in one relay and I think they might be on the bubble for the 200 free. So we’ll find out tomorrow. Three (guys) have never been to States before, so they’re super excited and that’s just neat to be a part of.”

Incidentally, both relays did in fact qualify for States, along with Sherk in both the 50 free and 100 breast.

In Friday’s 50 free, Sherk and Bishop McDevitt’s Patrick Hemingway were waged in a two-man battle for the lead. Sherk held a slight lead but Hemingway appeared to close the gap heading to the final turn. However, Sherk was able to hold off the charge as he out-touched Hemingway to edge him by .04 seconds.

“My wall, I was a little bit far,” Sherk said, recounting the action. “Coming off that wall I had a really good turn and I think that’s what really helped me. Mid-race I remembered something I was taught, ‘Put it in,’ and I was like, it’s a flip of a coin at that point. We were stroke for stroke.”

“It was a really fun race,” he added, “probably the the most fun I’ve had in a race my whole high school career.”

To start the day Friday, the Eagles’ 200 medley relay team was better than all except Bishop McDevitt, which grabbed the lead for good early on the third leg and held on for a winning time of 1:38.07.

Then in the free relay, the Eagle boys finished fourth in the A final but were bumped to fifth by Schuylkill Valley, which edged them out for fourth with a time of 1:32.61 in the B race. West York captured the win in a time of 1:30.93.

Molignoni then closed out a strong day Friday with his seventh-place showing in the 100 fly. The Eagle junior shaved more than a second off his seeding time of 57.68 to grab his lone individual medal. Donegal’s Jake Houck won the event in 51.00.

With just one event to go Saturday, Sherk had his eyes set on the District record of 57.91 in the breaststroke set by Big Spring’s Jarod Anderson in 2017.

Sherk simply blew away the competition Saturday, winning by more than three seconds ahead of runner-up Matthew Raudabaugh (1:01.83) of Big Spring. Unfortunately, he came up just short (.22 seconds) of the record.

“It was fun,” Sherk said following the win. “It’s definitely fun going fast. This year, I wanted to do better than I did, but I can’t complain with getting a guaranteed ride to States. Last year, I was also on a better taper. This year, I’m on one week so I’m looking forward to States. That’s going to be fun.”

As for missing out on the record?

“I mean, it’s something I’ll strive for next year, definitely,” he said. “In a way, I’m kinda bummed. But I’m also happy that I didn’t because now, my senior year, I can look forward to actually accomplishing something that I’ve wanted to do ever since I came in as a freshman, seeing Jarod Anderson go a 57.9. So it’s really exciting to look at next year and I’m already pumped for it.”

Enck said his demeanor lends itself to competing in big meets.

“He’s amazing,” she said. “I honestly think he’s one of the most fun swimmers to watch. And he’s so laid back. I wish I could get that demeanor myself and give it to some of our other guys who were so nervous today. But he’s just fun to watch, he’s low-key, and just a great person.”

And he’s driven.

“Oh, for sure,” she added. “His goal has been for States. So he was always looking ahead, but he’s happy with how he did here.”

In addition to the Cocalico boys, the Ephrata boys finished 28th with a total of 13 team points in the Boys 3A competition.

Kyle Emmerling finished just off the medal stand in the 200 IM as the senior placed ninth with a time of 1:58.78. Emmerling also competed in the 100 butterfly where he placed 14th with a time of 54.07.

Sophomore Thomas McGillan also competed in two events, placing 16th in the 50 free (22.32) and 24th in the 100 free (49.38).

Competing in Girls 3A, Ephrata finished 17th as a team with 30 points but did not have a swimmer reach the medal stand.

The closest they came was in the 200 freestyle relay where the Lady Mounts’ team of Alyssa Fedorshak, Maddy Fritz, Kierra Parsons and Mary Campbell placed ninth with a time of 1:42.08.

The 400 free relay squad of Fedorshak, Fritz, Mary Campbell and Parsons finished 13th in a time of 3:49.34.

Individually, Parsons was 14th in the 500 free (5:24.76) and 22nd in the 200 free (2:00.32); Fedorshak placed 16th in the 100 back (1:01.63) and was 19th in the 200 free (2:00.19); Anya Emmerling placed 17th in the 500 free (5:27.33); and Fritz placed 22nd in the 100 breast (1:10.70).

The Cocalico girls competed in the 2A field and finished in 17th place with 11 team points.

Natalee Boronow had the top finish for the Lady Eagles, placing 12th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:11.89. Elise Westhafer added a pair of 14th-place finishes in both the 200 free (2:04.14) and 500 free (5:30.94).

The PIAA State Championships will be held March 13-16 in Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University.

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