CM SWIMMING: Hannah Brian sets new 500-freestyle record


LOCK HAVEN — Hollidaysburg brought a large team to Lock Haven University’s Zimmerli Pool on Jan. 18 to face off against Central Mountain.

At the end of a record-setting night, the Central Mountain girls showed Hollidaysburg that, in some situations, talent can overcome numbers and lead to success.

The Wildcat Girls were able to pull off a 52-42 win over the Golden Tigers, while the boys dropped a 118-47 decision to a much larger Hollidaysburg team.

“This was a very close and competitive meet, and our girls really responded to the challenge that was presented by Hollidaysburg,” said CM coach Jim Merinar. “It is great as a coach to see your athletes rise to the occasion. All of our kids have done so all season long.”

Great swims, and upsets, highlighted the entire meet.

“Like we do every meet, our 200-medley relay team of Avery Mahoney, McKenna Fox, Emma Persun and Madison Bair set the tone for the meet with a strong first swim. That really got the ball rolling, and many more good swims followed,” he said.

Several of the events that Central Mountain put into the win column came down to tenths, and even hundredths of a second. Mikayla Rich swam a very strong 200-freestyle, winning by just .50 seconds, followed shortly thereafter by a win in the 100-freestyle by .73 seconds. Evie Rembold, seeded second in the 100-butterfly, held off the field to win by .17 seconds.

The Wildcats 200 -free relay team of Evie Rembold, Emma Persun, Hannah Brian and Mikayla Rich was seeded over eight seconds behind the Hollidaysburg team, but dug deep to win the race by over three seconds. Towards the end of what was playing out to be a very close meet, Merinar knew the team needed a few more outstanding performances to pull out the win. But the girls were up to the challenge– in record form.

Freshman Hannah Brian took to the water in the 500-freestyle, and when the waves settled, the clock showed a new Central Mountain record time of 5:51.93.

Brian exited the pool to the cheers of the crowd and a group hug from her entire team, while a grinning Merinar stated, “That was a super swim, and it was great to see Hannah get the team record. We knew she could do it.”

Later, Brian stated “I’ve been cutting time all year, and I knew the record was in reach. It was just a matter of time. Tonight, the team win against Hollidaysburg was more important. The record could have come any time!” The team win, however, was not guaranteed yet, and it would take some end-of-meet heroics to pull it out. With two events left, McKenna Fox was seeded third in the 100-breaststroke behind two Hollidaysburg swimmers. Fox out-touched everyone by .26 seconds, setting a personal best time and setting Central Mountain up to win the meet with a good finish in the 400-free relay.

The relay team of Mikayla Rich, Madison Bair, Evie Rembold and Hannah Brian was up to the challenge, out racing two Hollidaysburg teams to secure the team win for Central Mountain.

On the boys’ side, Central Mountain faced off against a very talented – and very large – Hollidaysburg team. As pointed out by Merinar, “It’s almost impossible to win a meet when you have a single relay team, and your opponent is putting three teams on the blocks.”

That doesn’t mean that the boys didn’t show promise and have some successes on the night. Derek Hughes out-swam three Hollidaysburg swimmers to win the 200-yard individual medley.

Parker Orndorf easily outpaced the field to win 500-freestyle, and James Riccardo touched first in the 100 backstroke.

Merinar was also quick to point out what he described as an “outstanding effort” by senior Vinnie Kopysciansky, who cut nearly five seconds off his personal best time in the 100-breaststroke.

“The team — both boys and girls– have been working very hard on their conditioning. They are extremely tired at this point in the season. For them to come out two times this week and swim like they did, it is very impressive. They are a great bunch of kids, and we’re very proud of the effort they’re putting forth,” Merinar said. The girls’ record now stands at 8-1, while the boys are 2-5.

Both teams travel to Jersey Shore today to take on the Bulldogs.