Members of the Upper Perkiomen boys’ swim team proudly stand on the podium at LaSalle University as they are recognized as the District 1 AA champs last weekend.
Girls’ and boys’ teams take home 19 medals
It was an eye-popping couple of days for the Upper Perkiomen swim team at the District 1 AA championships held at LaSalle University last week. The boys won the district title, setting six new team records, and qualifying swimmers for six events at the state meet in two weeks. Combined with the girls’ total, Upper Perk swimmers garnered 19 medals.
“Team performance was beyond stellar; they swam their eyeballs out,” said ecstatic coach Missy Peart. “As coaches we were astounded and shocked by their phenomenal swims.”
Headlining the day were Mason Cassel and Kyle Himmelwright. Cassel took the gold medal in the 200 in a record-breaking 52.38, scored a silver in the 100 freestyle (49.50), swam on the gold medal-winning 200 medley relay, which established a new team record, and anchored the silver-winning 400 free relay while also setting a new team record.
“I pretty much had the best day that I could hope for,” Cassel said. “I dropped in all of my times.”
Himmelwright also swam on the medley relay and 400 free relay teams, and he took gold in the 100 backstroke in 54.30. That time toppled his own record by over two seconds.
“It feels pretty good. It hasn’t really fully hit me yet that I’ve broken a couple of records and we’re district champs.”
Other record-breaking performances came from Collin Junk in the 200 individual medley (2:06.74, third place) and Quinn Perlstein in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.92, fourth place)
Junk was also on the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay teams. Blade Umstead was the fourth member of the medley relay while Matt Rose led off the 400 free relay.
The team finished 92 points ahead of second-place Springfield Montco thanks to the efforts of some of the unsung heroes on the team.
Peart said, “We told the boys that scoring in their events was an added pressure because we need 16th places to bring home the title. Our depth in the lineup was key to bringing home the first place trophy.”
Jason Mercando (bronze medal), Bryon Scholl and Tyler Baskin were three who responded by swimming their personal bests in the 200 free. Likewise Matt Rose (5th), Jody Peart (11th), and Blade Umstead (12th) all dropped their times in the 100 free. In the 500, Jason Mercando medaled and beat his best time by a whopping ten seconds, Bryon Scholl bested his time and took a seventh place medal, and freshman Ryan Mercando placed ninth in the event.
“Historically our 200 and 500 frees were our weakest events at district, but our assistant coach, Jessica Crawfort, brought to the table experience in both of these events and these boys trained hard all season long under her direction, and it paid off in loot at the big meet,” said Peart.
Volunteer and former head coach Mike Tannous also had a hand in prepping the team for districts.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching job this year,” said Cassel.
The girls finished a respectable seventh in the team standings. Senior Felicia Sloyer won individual medals in the 200 free (8th) and 100 back (7th), and was part of two medal winning relay teams, including the fourth place medley relay. Kristin Kilroy medaled in the 100 breaststroke (7th).
Like the boys, the female swimmers swam a plethora of personal bests.
Now the eyes turn toward the boys’ state races on March 15 through 17. Upper Perk will be sending the medley relay (Himmelwright, Junk, Cassel, Peart), Cassel in the 100 free and 100 fly, Himmelwright in the 100 back, Perlstein, Zak Kibler, and Junk in the 100 breast, and the 400 free relay (Rose, Junk, Himmelwright, Cassel). Blade Umstead will go as an alternate.