Dom Edwards earned two medals in individual events at this year’s PIAA Class 3A swimming and diving championships.
The first one came in the usual way.
The second one, not so much.
Edwards, a junior at Council Rock North, was fourth in the 200-yard individual medley with his time of 1:50.93 on Wednesday in the opening day of the competition, held at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
Edwards swam in the morning preliminaries, then came back for the “A” final at night, where he posted his fourth-place finish, then stood on the podium to collect his medal.
On Thursday, he was sixth in the 500 freestyle (4:34.85) but he didn’t know it when he did it.
After Thursday morning’s preliminaries, meet director Melissa Mertz, the associate executive director of the PIAA, announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meet would conclude with girls diving on Thursday. Thursday morning preliminaries would serve as timed finals, meaning that medals would be awarded and team points assessed based on the morning swims. Medals will be mailed to the swimmers.
“I made that decision after speaking with our executive director back at the office,” Mertz said. “They had conference calls this morning about canceling basketball, postponing basketball championships as well.
“I felt that we could not continue swimming with basketball canceling as well. PIAA is pretty much shutting down any of our tournaments that we had going on. That in addition to information that we got from the governor’s office and the Department of Health, it’s the right thing to do. And Bucknell has also canceled all of their spring sports as well. All of their students have to leave as well.”
Edwards was in his hotel room when he got the news.
“The girls texted us and told us the meet was canceled,” he said. “We thought they were messing with us but then (coach Brian) Johnson confirmed it.
“I absolutely would have swum the race differently had I known we were going to do timed finals. I was saving a little for the finals that night, so I think I could have shaved four or five seconds off of my time. Everyone in that final is in the same boat, I’m sure. I wish they would have told us.
“Even if they were just considering it, it would have been nice to get a heads up about it. I could have moved up in the results. The guy next to me (Rick Mihm of North Allegheny) won it the last two years and he went a 4:30. He could have gone a 4:24 if he had known.
“I know I’ll get the medal, but it’s definitely not as meaningful as walking up and getting your medal from your coach and getting on the podium. I at least got to experience that with the IM, but there were seniors at the meet and this was their only chance to do that and they didn’t get that experience. Going out like that as a senior would have to be really unsettling.
“This definitely makes me hungrier to come back next year. It’s added motivation for me, knowing that I didn’t get the chance to swim the 500 at night.
“As soon as we got the news, we pretty much packed up and headed home. It didn’t really hit me until I was at the pool at North and I realized that I should have been warming up for finals.”
Teammate Luke Dotson finished sixth in diving (430.10 points), earning his first state medal after failing to survive past the preliminaries last year.
“I’m very happy to leave with a medal,” Dotson said. “Last year I didn’t make it too far so I wasn’t too sure what it would be like, but this year was really fun.
“My goal was to get all the way through to the finals. I was in third for a long time, and then everyone started hitting their dives really nice and they passed me but I was really pumped. I think I did well.
“I’d say I dove pretty consistently. There were a couple of dives I could have hit better but it was a good run. I was really proud of my front one and a half. I thought that was really good.”
CR North’s 400 freestyle relay of Edwards, Martin Vradinskiy, Jack Henderson and Will Higgins wound up in 10th place (3:11.54). The event was on Thursday, so it was also a timed final.
“The other three guys on that relay are seniors, so they didn’t get the chance to swim at night,” Edwards said. “We definitely could have gone faster and it would have been nice to finish off the year with our best times.”
The Indians’ 200 medley relay of Higgins, Edwards, Vradinskiy and Caleb Chryst finished 18th (1:37.25) and the 200 freestyle relay of Henderson, Austin Ruggles, Michael Kiedaisch and Chryst was also 18th (1:27.71).
Vradinskiy finished 23rd in the 100 backstroke (52.29).
Pennridge junior Joseph Hong was fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 56.20, lowering his own school record.
The breaststroke, Hong’s only event, was contested on Thursday, so what he thought was his preliminary swim in the morning turned out to be his only swim of the meet.
“I was taking a nap in the hotel when my mom woke me up and told me they weren’t going to swim the finals and we were leaving,” Hong said. “I was really disappointed to not swim in the medal heat at night. I think I could have gone faster, so I missed the opportunity to move up in the rankings and to stand on the podium.
“If I had known that was going to be my only swim I would have planned the race more strategically. I would have had a different mindset.”
Still, he was pleased to reach the medal heat.
“I didn’t have a great swim last year,” he said of his 16th-place finish. “I missed the ‘A’ final. I was really looking forward to getting into the medal heat this year and I did that, so I’m happy about that, and I’m happy with my time. I figured I’d need to do a 56 to get to the ‘A’ final and I did that.
“At least I can still come back next year. For some seniors, this was their only chance to swim in the medal heat and it got taken away, so I feel worse for them, and also for the Class 2A swimmers because they didn’t get to swim at all. I at least had that opportunity.
“This is certainly very motivating for next year. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Quakertown’s Tyler Einolf, competing in his first state competition, finished in a tie for 15th in the 100 breaststroke with Alex Grahor of North Allegheny (57.63). The senior also took 21st in the 200 individual medley (1:57.50).
Tommy Krystkiewicz of Central Bucks East finished 19th in the 200 individual medley (1:56.67) in his first state appearance.
Class 2A competitors were arriving at the venue when the announcement was made that the meet would not continue. There is no makeup date for Class 2A at this time.