On January 28th and 29th, Seton Swimming traveled with 12 swimmers up to Villanova University outside of Philadelphia for the 71st Annual National Catholic High School Championships.List Catholic Nationals Team. After 2 individual National Championships, 8 total top-8 finishes and 14 total top-16 finishes, both the Seton Boys and Girls finished 9th! It was quite a meet. We also set 5 new team records. I’m proud to say that every member of our team was able to score points with at least a top 16 finish in a relay.
Seton’s National Catholic Championship Team was:
Jessica Dunn, SO
Melissa Dunn, SR
Caitlyn Harris, SR
Mary-Kate Kenna, FR
Lea Mazzoccoli, SO
Kimberley Melnyk, SO
Hailey Moya, FR
Katie Planchak, JR
Nevin Cook, SO
Kevin Koehr, SR
Sean Koehr, SO
Bryan Morch, SR
The most outstanding performance was turned in by sophomore Nevin Cook who won both of Seton’s gold medals, one in the 200 IM and one in the 100 Breaststroke. Nevin’s breaststroke always seems spectacular. He entered the meet seeded first, finished prelims with the first seed and won the finals with relative ease at a time of 59.69. The race never seemed in doubt. That much could not be said for his 200 IM, which may have been one of the three best swims I’ve ever seen as the Seton Swim coach.
Nevin entered the meet seeded 1st in 200 IM at 1:59.50. During the final heat of prelims, Nevin swam what we all thought was a 1:58.06. When the annoucer announced the seeding for the next day’s finals, we learned that a number on the scoreboard stuck and he had really gone 1:59.06. That meant that he was suddenly seeded 2nd behind a very fast 1:58.80 by a Georgetown Prep (GP) swimmer. The let-down only made Nevin more determined.
A review of the splits from prelims showed that Nevin won the butterfly leg, he was beaten on the backstroke leg, he lost slightly on the breaststroke leg (I’ve never seen that happen), and he gained most of the lost time back on the freestyle leg. For the finals, we determined that, if he was anywhere near his competion after backstroke, he could hold his own in breaststroke and win with his freestyle. The stage was set.
At the finals, the next morning, our entire team was at the end of his lane. He went out fast with his fly and they were even at the first 50. Like the day before, he lost some ground on backstroke, but this time it was only .8 seconds. I was screaming because I thought he was close enough at this point in the race to ultimately get the win. His breaststroke leg was fabulous and they turned into the last 50 dead even. I shouted on the video “I’m betting on Nevin!”. I almost spoke to soon. Nevin was behind into the final turn. Both swimmers bodies had to be completely numb, but this was the finals! Nevin couldn’t seem to make up any ground on the guy until, in the last 10 yards, he started gaining on him. From the end of the pool, we could see Nevin’s head pop up first – he had won it!
In the process, he set a new Seton record of 1:58.23, 1.27 seconds faster than he had ever gone before.
Not only did Nevin win 2 gold medals, he also tied for the meet’s Individual High Point Award with two other swimmers that also won two events. I know for a fact that Nevin received at least one vote for the honor 😉
Kevin Koehr took the next highest medal by a Seton swimmer when he took the Silver medal in 100 backstroke. Kevin had the good fortune to get matched up against the eventual swimmer of the meet who swims on the USA Junior National Team and was, according to the Good Council coach, the #1 ranked 16-year old 200-backstroker in the nation last year. None of this kept Kevin from making it a race though. During the Finals, they entered the last turn dead even, but Kevin was just not able to take him. Last year, Kevin won the gold medal with a 53.51. This year, a 51.98 got the silver. Just goes to show you, no matter how fast you are, there’s always someone faster. Kevin also took 11th in the 100 Free with a new team record of 49.29. All of the 8 fastest times in the 100 free were under :49 seconds.
Katie Planchak had her best meet as a Seton swimmer, with a 6th place finish in the 100 Free and an 8th place finish in the 50 Free. These are always the most competitive events, and this past weekend, it was no different. Incredibly, Katie entered the meet seeded 9th in the 50 Free and 15th in the 100 Free! Her 100 Free was her most remarkable performance.
Prior to the prelims, Katie’s PR in 100 Free was 57.23. With some positive encouragement from Coach Mulhern, Katie decided that the key to a better performance was to make her first split must closer to her best 50 Freestyle time. It required her to take a risk – if she did that, would she still be able to finish strong? When she popped a 26.70 split for her first 50 during prelims, we knew we were about to find out. You should have seen the look on her face when she touched the wall, looked back at the scoreboard and saw her new PR time – 55.74! That’s an improvement of 1.49 seconds! (Hey Katie – there’s a certain freestyler from FCS who is not going to want to see your new time on the psych sheet for DAC Champs!)
Our other three top-8 finishes came in relays:
– Our Boys 200 Medley Relay took 6th with a new team record of 1:42.38. As with all championship meets, our goals for this relay were to have the fastest split in the meet at the 100-yd mark and to beat Paul VI. Both goals were realized. Kevin Koehr swam 50 back in 24.87 and Nevin Cook split 27.74. Those great splits were not the biggest reasons for the new record however. Bryan Morch had his best split of the year in 50 Fly at 25.98 and Sean Koehr swam his 50 Free leg in a personal best of 23.79. Sean swam 50 Free in relays 4 times over the weekend, and 3 of those 4 times, he broke :24 seconds. He’s never done that before.
– Our Girls 200 Medley Relay took 7th and set a new team record of 1:57.69 with Jessica Dunn, Melissa Dunn, Lea Mazzoccoli and Katie Planchak. Jessie’s lead-off split in the backstroke with under :30 seconds both times, which was a new PR for her, Melissa swam an excellent 50 breaststroke (split 33.52), Lea showed that she has recovered from her sickness with a 50 fly split of 28.54 and Katie smoked with a anchor freestyle leg of 25.66
– Our Girls 200 Free Relay also took 7th place with the same 4 swimmers. Once again, Jessica Dunn established a new PR in her lead-off 50-Free (26.44) and Katie anchored with a 25.63. Lea and Melissa held up the middle in a very competitive Final.
Jessica Dunn had two top-16 finishes in the 200 IM (13th) and 100 Back (15th). Jessica has made remarkable improvement since last season. Prior to this year, Jessie’s best 100 backstroke time was 1:16.57. This year, she’s gone a 1:03.86! Her best 200 IM time from years past was 2:31.31. This year, she’s gone 2:19.15! Is it any wonder that this sophomore is starting to be competitive at the higher levels of swimming?
Lea Mazzoccoli entered the 100 Fly seeded 22nd at 1:06.48. She has been recovering for an illness for a good portion of the season. I think I just expected her to come, swim in the preliminaries, and have some fun with the team. That was not her plan. When we saw her 50 split during prelims flash on the board at 29.66, we wondered if she could keep it up for another 50. It was very exciting to see her finish with a new PR of 1:05.23 – a drop of 1.25 seconds! She was seeded 15th in the consolation finals the next day! At finals, she swam even faster, 1:05.17, and ended up finishing 13th.
Our Boys 200 Free Relay set a new team record of 1:35.39 with their 13th place finish. Nevin Cook lead off with a 23.33, Bryan Morch swam 25.21, Sean Koehr swam another very fast 23.72 and Kevin Koehr anchored the relay with a 22.77.
Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Mary-Kate Kenna, Caitlin Harris, Kimberley Melnyk, and Hailey Moya took 15th with some excellent swimming. In the finals, they improved their preliminary time by over a second to move up from their 16th seed.
This was our third year attending the National Catholic Championship and every year it seems to get better. This year, Mrs. Rosato, with help from Brittany Rosato and Mrs. Morch, decorated a conference room in the hotel with streamers, past championship trophies, balloons and colored tableclothes so we could enjoy a Saturday night team celebration with pizza, cake and beverages. It was a great opportunity for us all to spend time together – it was so much more enjoyable than a restaurant. Thank you so much Mrs. Rosato!
Now I’m really looking forward to DAC Champs this Saturday and States at UVa two weeks after that. Mrs. Morch and Mrs. Harris spent some of their free time this past weekend at PartyCo getting some supplies for the senior parade States. It should really be a great time – I think they are going to know that Seton is there and that we came to play.
I hope that all of you get a chance to go to one of these championship meets at least once during your high school careers. You will never forget it.
Great job this weekend by everyone who went. See you at practice on Thursday,