Upper Perk swimmers capture two medals at States
Upper Perk state qualifiers and coaches who traveled to Bucknell University last week, kneeling, left to right: Matt Rose and Blade Umstead. Standing: Quinn Perlstein, Zak Kibler, Collin Junk, Missy Peart, head coach, Jess Crawfort, asst. coach, Jody Peart, Mason Cassel and Kyle Himmelwright.
One of the most successful Upper Perkiomen swim seasons ever came to a satisfying close at Bucknell University last weekend as the team garnered two medals, new team records and a 14th-place team finish, in the field of 47, and two beautiful renditions of the national anthem.
The 200-yard medley relay team, Kyle Himmelwright, Collin Junk, Mason Cassel and Jody Peart, took the bronze medal in 1:39.85. That time broke the school record the relay had established earlier in the day during the morning heats.
The Tribe relay came oh-so-close to a silver medal which was taken by Mars in 1:39.33.
Fairview won the race in 1:36.67.
Nevertheless, coach Missy Peart, who was coaching in her final meet for Upper Perk, was more than pleased.
“Getting third in the medley relay is a realization that may come to pass eventually but as of yet – still surreal! The focus and competitiveness in those boys in that race was like nothing I have ever experienced. They were there to race and it all came together as they so well deserved.”
Last year, Upper Perk’s medley relay finished 15th.
A short while later, Cassel finished fifth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 52.30. Eric Tatum of Salisbury won the race in 51.20.
Cassel’s time in the final was over a second faster than his qualifying time and a personal best.
“Mason placing fifth in the fly was so deserving of an athlete that exemplifies work ethic and desire to be his best at the sport he loves,” said Peart.
Other Upper Perk results at States included Kyle Himmelwright’s 15th place showing in the 100 back (55.96), Quinn Perlstein 18th in the 100 breast (1:01.94), Zak Kibler 24th in the breast (1:02.60) and Junk 28th (1:03.35) in the breast.
Cassel also swam in the 100 free where he finished 25th (49.60)
The 400 free relay was 12th in 3:19.98.
Just getting that many swimmers to States was quite the accomplishment for a program that could barely field a team seven years ago.
Senior Jody Peart relayed the perspective of a swimmer who witnessed the growth first hand.
“Freshman year, it was always ‘Upper Perk’s not that good; kids do it for the fun of it.’ And then my sophomore year, Liam Smith, Adam (Kulp, Peter Marino, Ryan Himmelwright), that relay, they just come out of the woodwork and they’re unbelievable, and then we’re runner up at Districts.
“Junior year, you think, ‘we actually have a shot, we’re a pretty good team’, and then this year, we’re like, ‘We’re going for the gold.’”
Peart, who will be playing football at Del Val next fall, enjoyed every minute of the experience at Bucknell.
“It was awesome. The feeling…It’s unbelievable. There’s thousands of people there cheering, and it’s great.
“The fact that I was in a relay with my good friends, it made it all the better, the fact that I could share. I wish I could do it again.”
Senior captain Matt Rose also got to show off another of his talents. Matt and his sister, Becca, were tapped to sing the national anthem both Friday and Saturday in the full natatorium.
“We went in not expecting to sing at all,” Matt said, “and our coach went and talked to one of the officials, because they needed someone to sing the national anthem. I did enjoy it a lot.”
Rose was really at Bucknell to swim on the free relay team.
“I’m really happy with ending my high school career this way. We never really had the amount of swimmers that we needed to succeed, and now we have a great group of guys; they’re great guys and they’re skillful swimmers. I’m just really glad, that for my last year, I got to captain a team that placed (fourteenth) at States.”