The Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University was packed full of fans, parents, coaches, media, and athletes who traveled to the center of the state for the PIAA Boys Swimming State Championships. The two day competition was held on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17. The Cathedral Prep swim team showed why they are one of the best programs in the state, qualifying the most individual athletes for the state meet of any team at the Boys Small School Championship.
Day One featured a number of impressive swims by the Ramblers. The Cathedral Prep 200 medley relay team of Ethan Neff, John Paul Stark, Robbie Maholic, and Thomas Uht picked up a silver medal in the first race of the night. They defeated rival Grove City but ultimately fell to Lower Moreland out of District 1. In the 200 individual medley, an event where each swimmer swims two lengths of each of the four stroke disciplines, Calvin Behm and John Paul Stark took to the water and placed 11th and 12th in the consolation final. In the 100 yard butterfly, Prep placed three swimmers in the B final as well. Ethan Neff, Robbie Maholic, and Matt Wegley placed 11th, 13th, and 16th respectively.
The highlight of night one though was the Cathedral Prep 200 freestyle relay of Alec Thomas, John Paul Stark, Mike Rahner, Thomas Uht, and Robbie Maholic, who swam in the preliminaries, stood atop the podium after claiming the gold. Their time of 1:25.69 bested the field by a wide margin. In second place was Grove City (1:26.16) and Cocalico (1:28.22) took the bronze. “It was amazing to get this win. I have a lot of love for my brothers, and it’s great to see it all work out,” said John Paul Stark.
“Our guys did a great job executing when it mattered. We have been dynamite in this relay all year, and when it came to the big time, they stepped up, dropped a lot of time, and put themselves in the position to win,” said head coach Mike Doyle after the awards ceremony. “I’m so proud of these guys, it shows the work we’ve done in the pool and in the weight room all season. After finishing second last year, it’s really great to get it back.”
On day two the Ramblers hit the water once again in an effort to make history. In the 100 freestyle Alec Thomas picked up the bronze and valuable team points. In the sports premier distance even, Matt Wegley finished his impressive senior season just out of scoring position. In the 100 backstroke, sophomore backstroke specialist Ethan Neff picked up the bronze in the event, just missing the Prep record. In the 100 breaststroke Calvin Behm ended his high school career by winning the B-Final and taking 9th overall. John Paul Stark finished 13th. In the 400 freestyle relay the Ramblers picked up another bronze as the relay team of Alec Thomas, Ethan Neff, Mike Rahner, and Thomas Uht swam their way on the podium.
The Cathedral Prep swim team finished second overall in the team standings. Lower Moreland of District One claimed the title with 207 points, and Prep finished second with 193.