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CR North’s Kaitlyn Landers reaches PIAA podium in dramatic fashion


Kaitlyn Landers provided some drama at the PIAA swimming and diving championships, held Wednesday through Saturday at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

Landers, a junior at Council Rock North, finished in a tie for eighth place after the preliminaries of the 100-yard freestyle, necessitating a swim-off.

Landers and Waynesboro junior Eve Phillips both posted a preliminary time of 51.58, so the two raced each other with the final spot in the championship heat on the line.

Landers surged ahead to post a personal best time of 50.86 to 51.29 for Phillips, earning the spot in the final and her first state medal.

She wound up in seventh place (51.59).

“The swim-off was so unexpected,” she said. “I was just at a club meet this past weekend and they had a swim-off and I was thinking about how I would hate to have to do that, and then I had this happen.

“It just makes me so nervous but there was so much energy from my teammates and my coach (Greg Parker) and I could really hear all the cheers. Everyone from District One was cheering for me and supporting me and I really felt it. It was really loud.

“I just felt like it would be a great swim and it was. I swam my best time and actually, so did she so it was crazy. I didn’t expect to do such a good time but it was a really good race.”

The victory in the swim-off meant that Landers was seeded eighth in the medal heat, where she moved up one spot to earn seventh.

“That was really exciting,” she said. “Honestly, I would have been more than thrilled with eighth but moving up was great.

“I’ve been to this meet before and I think that experience really helped me. I knew what to expect. Every year this is such a loud, crazy meet. It’s so much fun but there’s a lot of pressure, too.

“The 100 is my favorite event, it’s the one I love to swim and I’m so, so happy with how this went for me.”

Landers also finished 21st in the 200 individual medley (2:10.32).

Grace Petrakis of Central Bucks East was 10th in the 200 individual medley (2:06.67) and 17th in the 100 freestyle (52.93).

The Patriots had a pair of divers at the competition. Marin Ford placed 17th with 241.65 points and Grace Ciepiela finished 21st (127.35 points).

“I was really happy with how I did,” said Ford, a sophomore. “It was a really good experience for me to be here. I was so nervous, but as the meet went on I relaxed more. These are new boards and I was really nervous but I figured it out and I got more confident and I got a lot better as it went on.

“I learned a lot here. Now I know I have to get smarter dives, I have to work on some of the ones that I did here, and I still have two more years so I have time to do those things.

“I also really liked seeing the other divers. They were amazing and everyone was so nice. I’m friendly with a lot of them, so it was nice to see old friends and make some new ones and see everyone do so well.

“At the beginning of the meet I didn’t think I belonged here, but now I think I do and I can’t wait for next year.”

Central Bucks West’s Maddie Majewski finished 13th in the 100 butterfly (57.09) and 23rd in the 100 freestyle (53.70).

Majewski, Madeline Cutting, Liv Shaffer and Marley Swain teamed up for a 22nd-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (3:40.50).

Ally Ricciardi of Pennridge placed 14th in the 50 freestyle (24.25). The senior ended her standout career for the Rams with a 19th-place finish in the 100 freestyle (52.97).

The Council Rock South 200 freestyle relay of Ella Rossi, Lily Hamnett, Taylor Jiras and Elana Rhoge finished 24th (1:40.97).

Jiras also competed in an individual event, placing 27th in the 500 freestyle (5:18.39).

“I was really surprised that I made it in the first place,” said Jiras, a freshman. “I was just happy to be here.

“It was a really fun experience. I definitely didn’t get the time I wanted, but I had a good experience. I’ll know better next year and hopefully I’ll do a lot better. There’s a lot to take in. I look at this as a good trial run and next year will be better.”

The Class 2A competition was held on Friday and Saturday.

Archbishop Wood’s Alyssa Bean reached the consolation final of the 100 butterfly, placing 13th (59.64). She was also 31st in the 100 freestyle (57.41).

“I didn’t swim as well as I wanted to this weekend, so making the finals in the fly was really exciting, and I had a really good time doing it,” said Bean, a senior. “I made it to consols last year so that helped, because I wasn’t as nervous.

“The freestyle was my final high school swim. It wasn’t the time I wanted, but I gave it my all and I had a great time at Wood swimming. I met so many great people and I had so much fun.”

Palisades junior Tori Oldford, competing in her first state meet, placed 24th in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.74).

“It felt really good to be here,” she said. “It wasn’t the time I was going for, but it wasn’t too bad.

“This meet is intense, but I feel like everyone was just handling it, so I handled it. I think it went really well. My heat was really fast. It’s fun to be racing against really fast people. It helps me push myself.”

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