Pool champions claim titles

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POTTSVILLE - Blue Mountain's Marina Barrineau and Maddie Bartush realize how close they were to winning four gold medals at Saturday's Schuylkill League Swimming Championships.

They're hoping to have similar success in three weeks at the District 11 Championships.

Barrineau and Bartush each won an individual event, placed second in another, then swam a leg on the Eagles' winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams during Saturday's competition at the newly named

Ned Hampford Natatorium.

Both of the silver medals came in races where the two Blue Mountain standouts nearly pulled off upset victories, falling short by mere fractions of a second.

Barrineau placed second to Tamaqua's Joann Butkus in the 50 freestyle, getting edged 25.39 to 25.40. Bartush nearly knocked off state qualifier Logann Baylor of Millersburg in the 100 backstroke, with Baylor touching in 1:04.47 and Bartush in 1:04.58.

"We all worked so hard for this," said Barrineau, who won the 100 IM. "I'm glad I got to swim against Joann. She's great competition, and I love to swim against her.

"She pushes me to the edge, as fast as I could go. I swim my fastest when I swim against her, because she is such a good swimmer."

Butkus also finished with three gold medals on the day, winning the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle while anchoring Tamaqua's winning 400 freestyle relay team.

Pottsville's Colleen Brennan repeated as the champion in the 50 breaststroke and 100 breaststroke, while the Tide's Briawna Cougle scored an impressive win in the 200 freestyle.

Other individual winners included Tri-Valley's Addie Snyder (100 fly), Tamaqua's Miranda Amey (500 free) and Danielle DeCindio (50 fly), and Marian's Sabrina Krupko (50 back).

Snyder's victory produced the first Schuylkill League swimming gold medal in Tri-Valley school history. She added a silver medal later in the meet in the 100 IM.

"It feels really good," said Snyder, a senior from Pitman who trains with the Millersburg swimmers at the Elizabethville YMCA. "I've worked really hard on my fly all season. I was having some issues in the beginning, I hurt my shoulder. It feels amazing to work through that and win."

The 50 freestyle was worth the price of admission, as four state qualifiers competed in the same heat.

Barrineau had the lead after 25 yards, with Butkus, Schuylkill Haven's Allison Adams and Baylor right behind.

"The first lap I was trying to focus on my breathing as much as possible because I knew that's where I could lose it," Barrineau said. "My finish was where I really lost it, because I didn't have a good finish. I was breathing a lot because I was trying to watch her, and I wish I wouldn't have done that."

Barrineau maintained the lead until the final 10 yards, when Butkus pulled even. Butkus would win in a near photo finish, with Barrineau second, Adams (25.89) third and Baylor (25.91) fourth.

"I think it was just experience," Butkus said. "What I've learned through my swimming is that if you're in doubt, just reach. I wasn't sure who was where and where I was exactly, so I just reached for it. It turned out that it worked for me.

"I think races like that, especially in the big meets when there are four people that are so close to each other that it's anybody race. I love races like that because it shows the talent we have in our area," Butkus continued. "It's great practice for the postseason.

"I think it's awesome. I think we are going to have great representation at districts and hopefully states."

A similar finish occurred in the 100 backstroke, where Bartush rallied over the final 25 yards to catch Baylor. Bartush, a junior who had earlier won the 200 IM, seemed to have taken the lead right near the finish, but made a mistake trying to touch the wall that allowed Baylor to capture the victory.

"I made a rookie mistake, and I'll learn from that and not do it again," Bartush said. "I haven't swam (the backstroke) recently, but it is an event that I love and it usually is my event.

"Logann is one of the nicest people I know. I love swimming against her. She's nice and she's really good with sportsmanship. I'm happy she won. If I wanted anyone to win backstroke, I would want it to be her." POTTSVILLE - For the most part, things went according to the seedings in the boys' competition, with 14 of the 15 top seeds garnering gold medals at the Saturday, Feb. 9 Schuylkill League Swimming Championships at the newly-named Ned Hampford Natatorium.

Millersburg's Cole Davis (100 fly, 100 free) and Ian Lloyd (200 IM, 100 back) were double-winners, while Blue Mountain's Nathanael Marino broke a Schuylkill League record with a winning time of 1:02.84 in the 100 breaststroke.

Pottsville's Dominick Direnzo, Kevin Wang, Michael Logothetides and Codi Wood won the 200 freestyle relay.

Schuylkill Haven's Austin Bayliff (200 free), Weatherly's Alex Sirkot (50 breast), Tamaqua's Gage Whalen (100 IM) and Jake Kropp (50 back), and the Tide's Josh Marx (50 fly), Wang (50 free) and Logothetides (500 free) added individual victories, while Blue Mountain captured the 200 medley relay and Schuylkill Haven took first in the 400 freestyle relay.

For Davis and Lloyd, Saturday's Schuylkill League was a tune-up for the ultra-competitive District 3 meet in three weeks.

Davis placed eighth in the 500 freestyle and 13th in the 100 butterfly as last year's PIAA Swimming Championships at Bucknell University. He was a double-winner at the Schuylkill League meet for the second straight year.

The Millersburg junior used a late surge to pull away from Marino (56.40) to win the 100 butterfly in 53.52, then rallied late to edge Bayliff (50.21) and Wang (50.71) to win the 100 freestyle in 49.10.

"I like having competition," Davis said. "It gives us a better sense of competition and some better people to race than what we see in the regular season.

"In my events, I knew there would be good competition, and I was just trying to improve my time and hoping to win."

Facing good competition was what had a big smile on Marino's face at the end of the meet, as the Blue Mountain sophomore left with two gold and two silver medals.

Marino broke his own school record in the 100 butterfly, then teamed with Carroll, Colin Greenawalt and Levkulic to set the school mark in the 200 freestyle relay.

Marino won the 100 breaststroke by beating teammate Carroll, who scored the 1,000th point of his career earlier in the day with a second-place finish to Lloyd in the 200 IM.

"That was an incredible race," Marino said of the 100 butterfly. Marino said he plans on swimming the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke at districts.

"(Davis) is an amazing swimmer, and he pushed me a lot. He pushed me to even drop my time better to get the school record lower than I already had it before.

"It was a wonderful day. Our entire team did great. We all dropped times like crazy. It was a great day for swimming."

Meanwhile, the Pottsville swimmers kept "pushing ahead," and the result was a victory in one of the closest boys' races of the day.

The Crimson Tide foursome overcame an early two-second deficit to finish in 1:35.04, edging top-seeded Blue Mountain (1:35.39) and defending champion Schuylkill Haven (1:35.92) in a race that had a packed house rocking.

"We've been working on the 200 free (relay) all year long," Wang said. "It's one of our biggest events. We've been doing sprints the whole season. It's great to see it pay off."

Most of the races weren't closely contested, except for the 200 freestyle relay.

Sean Carroll gave Blue Mountain a sizeable lead after one leg, with Pottsville second and Schuylkill Haven third. Logothetides got Pottsville closer after two legs, and Direnzo helped the Tide catch up.

"I was pretty nervous. I knew it was going to be pretty close," Direnzo said. "I think my heart rate was over 200 just standing on the block."

Direnzo passed Blue Mountain's John Levkulic on the third leg, giving Wang the lead against Blue Mountain's Marino. Schuylkill Haven's Bayliff made things interesting with a late charge, but Wang was able to hold both of them off for the victory.

The best part of the race? All three relay teams will compete against each other again at the District 11 Class AA Championships in three weeks at Parkland High School, meaning a similar battle could happen.

"I knew (my teammates) would do a great job, so if I got any lead I'd just push ahead, and if I was behind I'd just push ahead," Wang said. "I kept my head down and raced to the finish." Millersburg's Baylor, TV's Snyder among medalists

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