Members of the Upper Perk boys swim team stand on the podium after receiving their 2013 District 1 AA Team Champion medals. Left to right: Kyle Kuser, assistant coach, Jessica Smith, head coach, Ryan Mercando, Brandon Umstead, Tyler Baskin, Kyle Himmelwright, Quinn Perlstein, Mason Cassel, Jason Mercando, Bryon Scholl, Hunter Peck, Missy Peart, volunteer coach.
Team takes first place at District 1 AA meet
They came. They swam. They conquered. Again.
Led by superlative performances by Mason Cassel and Kyle Himmelwright, the Upper Perk boys swim team captured its second consecutive District 1AA title last weekend at LaSalle University, holding off Springfield Montco 388-369.
Cassel was named the AA Boys "Swimmer of the Meet" after capturing individual gold in the 100 fly (52.29) and 100 free (48.52), along with helping the Tribe to gold in the 200 medley relay and, with the title hanging on the outcome of the last race of the meet, the 400 free relay.
In the fly, Cassel set a new team record as did the two relays he swam on. The medley relay, Brandon Umstead, Quinn Perlstein, Cassel, and Hunter Peck, clocked in at 1:39.02. The 400 free, Jason Mercando, Peck, Himmelwright and Cassel, finished in 3:16.62.
“Mason is not only a talented swimmer, but also a hard worker and he deserves all the accolades he’s been given,” said first year head coach Jessica Smith. “He’s been a great leader for this team both by leading by example with his dedication to improving his own swimming and by motivating the other swimmers to strive for their best as a team.”
Himmelwright had a tremendous weekend in the pool himself, taking gold in the 50 free (22.21), the 400 free relay, and on the 200 free relay where he was teamed with Bryon Scholl, Perlstein and Umstead.
As one of the veteran leaders on the team, Himmelwright’s presence out of the pool was a factor in the overall outstanding effort of the team.
“I feel like I took more of a leadership role,” said the senior. “I definitely helped out some of the underclassmen get through the stress of districts.”
While Cassel, Himmelwright, and the relays stood out, Upper Perk got career performances out of the whole line-up.
The team captured a total of 19 medals and the nine males on the team all swam personal bests at the meet.
Mercando knocked four seconds off his personal best during a second-place finish in the 200 free (1:48.63) and took third in the 500 free (5:04.92).
“He’s another swimmer who has been committed to improvement and had dedicated himself to practice every day throughout the season,” said coach Smith.
Perlstein took a silver medal in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.28) and a fourth in the 200 IM (2:06.49).
“The coaches' nickname for Quinn Perlstein is ‘Game Day’ because he always shows up and impresses at the big championship meets, and this districts was no different,” related Smith.
“He dropped six seconds in his 200 IM to place fourth and dropped three seconds in his 100 breaststroke to place second. Even more impressive than his individual races were the legs of the 200 medley relay (50 breaststroke) and the 200 free relay, where he dropped time and helped his teammates to clinch gold.”
While overshadowed by the boys' monster effort, the Upper Perk girls scored some success of their own.
The free relay of Shantel Rios, Danielle Marino, Kristen Kilroy, and Kirsten Siwy took second (1:43.48).
The 200 medley, composed of Christina Williams, Kilroy, Jackie Hammill and Marino, won a medal at sixth place (1:56.59) and the 400 free, Williams, Marino, Hammill, Siwy won an eighth place medal in 3:50.35.
Siwy took a seventh in the 100 free (55.92) and eighth in the 200 IM (2:17.64). Hammill and Kilroy also got eighth place medals in the 100 fly (1:02.32) and 100 breast (1:11.42) respectively.
With most of the boys going to states in two weeks, expectations are high, especially given the states experience of several swimmers from last year.
Himmelwright definitely expects to have an advantage. “I think [experience] will play a big role, because I know what to expect, how to take the stress of states.”
“Upper Perk is currently seeded fifth going into states. The goal is to climb up the team points ladder even further,” said Smith. “To start off the meet, we’ll be going after the state champ title in the 200 medley relay, where we’re currently seeded in a tie for second place.”