Marian’s Berlitz earns gold, sets record
Panther Valley's Erika Zimmerman competes in the District 11 200 freestyle event. Zimmerman finished in second place. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Northern Lehigh's Ben Lehman swims the breaststroke during the 200 IM. Lehman placed fifth. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Marian’s Maddie Dando takes a breath while swimming the butterfly leg of the 200 IM. Dando placed second. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ALLENTOWN — The District 11 Swimming Championships got underway Friday night at Parkland High School and area swimmers were well represented.
On the girls side, a couple of young swimmers put on impressive showings. And while young swimmers were in the spotlight on the girls side, it was old pro — senior Danny Berlitz of Marian — who stole the show on the boys side when he won his seventh district gold medal in the 200 IM.
Freshman Erika Zimmerman of Panther Valley was up against senior Sarah Bobeck of Salisbury in the 200-yard freestyle. Bobeck has gold medals in the 50 and 500 freestyle events from last year’s district meet. Zimmerman was seeded second to Bobeck, with a top time that stood just .05 seconds behind Bobeck’s best in the 200. In Friday’s event, Bobeck blew away her best time and took first, with Zimmerman finishing second with a time of 2:01.99, leaving her just about five seconds behind Bobeck, who took gold.
Zimmerman was disappointed that she didn’t put on a better show, but finishing second against a two-time gold medal winner at districts isn’t too shabby. After the race, Zimmerman was looking ahead to Saturday’s 500-yard freestyle, where she is the top seed, and also to next year when she won’t have Bobeck to contend with.
“It wasn’t bad, there’s always next year,” said Zimmerman, forcing a smile. “I hope I’ll get there next year. My focus was to get first and be a two-title winner at districts.”
Zimmerman’s Panther Valley teammate, Jacqueline Kokinda, finished third in the 100-yard butterfly, just under two seconds out of the top spot.
Meanwhile, Marian sophomore Maddie Dando came in as the top seed in the 200 IM, but settled for second after a pre-race incident that tore her tech-suit. Fortunately, she had an older version along and was able to use that, but it still threw her a curve just a short while before her heat.
“To be honest, coming in, I knew I was coming in second and really wasn’t expecting to win at all,” admitted Dando. “It was just kind of a mind game; I really just wanted to get a good time, but I wasn’t really happy with it. It’s really just a mental game right now, I have to prepare for tomorrow and I have to just forget about today. I still came in second in districts and I’m still proud of the way that I swam.”
Dando will compete in the 100-yard backstroke, where she is also the top seed and the only female swimmer with a qualifying time under one minute in the event.
Berlitz swam the event in 1:49.81 to set both a new district and pool record. The previous district record also belonged to Berlitz, who won gold with a time of 1:52.33 last year. While his win looked pretty effortless, it was even more effortless than you would know.
“I’m not tapered or shaved or anything, it was just kind of put on a suit and go, so to go 1:49 without tapering or shaving is pretty amazing. I felt really good on my butterfly and backstroke and everything just worked out great for me today,” said Berlitz, who will attend the University of Michigan on a swimming scholarship. “It’s definitely a self-motivation driver to come in and go faster than I did in states last year without any tapering or shaving. I’m excited to go to states to see what I can do.”
Berlitz goes for an eighth district gold medal in Saturday’s 500-yard freestyle. If he wins, he would have won gold in each individual event that he swam in districts during his high school career. He’ll also be looking to beat his district record time of 4:35.13 that he set last year.
Northern Lehigh’s Ben Lehman just missed medaling in the 200 IM, finishing .69 seconds behind fourth-place finisher Ryan Kerr of Saucon Valley.
In the team standings, Tamaqua is sixth in the boys competition and seventh among girls teams at districts.
District 11 Day 1
200 Medley Relay - 1. Allentown Central Catholic 1:53.51, 2. Blue Mountain 1:53.76, 3. Saucon Valley 1:59.40, 4. Moravian Academy 1:59.79, 5. Tamaqua (B. Drummond, K. Sherry, S. Maue, N. Aguero-Ramirez) 2:02.62.
200 Freestyle - 1. Sarah Bobeck (Salisbury) 1:56.91, 2. Erika Zimmerman (Panther Valley) 2:01.99, 3. Katherine Sarnes (Blue Mountain) 2:02.32, 4. Rylee Bolinsky (N. Schuylkill) 2:03.33, 8. Brianna Dumond (Tamaqua) 2:13.02, 9. Madelyn Jones (Tamaqua) 2:13.65, 17. Annikka Stanggil (Northwestern) 2:21.62.
200 IM - 1. Gianna Farina (Notre Dame-GP) 2:09.86, 2. Maddie Dando (Marian) 2:16.00, 3. Brinn De Angelo (N. Schuylkill) 2:19.82, 4. Mallorie Dukmen (Blue Mountain) 2:20.94, 10. Kayla Sherry (Tamaqua) 2:32.15, 15. Maura Walker (Tamaqua) 2:46.54.
50 Freestyle - 1. Kylie Tohill (Pottsville) 25.19, 2. Olivia Haas (Blue Mountain) 25.48, 3. Anna Shoudt (Moravian Academy) 25.71, 4. Maria Donahue (Saucon Valley) 25.77, 7. Emily Newton (Panther Valley) 26.28, 12. Shannon Dougherty (Palmerton) 27.19, 17. Julia Blose (Palmerton) 28.76.
100 Butterfly - 1. McKayla Blazure (Moravian Academy) 1:00.56, 2. Grace Shucavage (Central Catholic) 1:01.38, 3. Jacqueline Kokinda (Panther Valley) 1:02.32, 4. Taleah Ruben (Pottsville) 1:02.49, 12. Julia Blose (Palmerton) 1:16.90.
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Salisbury 1:43.15, 2. Allentown Central Catholic 1:43.42, 3. Pottsville 1:44.45, 4. Blue Mountain 1:46.03, 8. Tamaqua 1:57.40.
200 Medley Relay - 1. Pottsville 1:40.83, 2. Blue Mountain 1:41.12, 3. Allentown Central Catholic 1:42.61, 4. Saucon Valley 1:45.22, 6. Tamaqua (S. Artis, A. Barron, G. Hartney, N. Kovalchick) 2:02.77.
200 Freestyle - 1. Ty Rabenstein (Blue Mountain) 1:45.33, 2. Morgan O’Brien (Bangor) 1:49.39, 3. Zaidian Van Orden (Pottsville) 1:49.70, 4. Ronald Farina (Notre Dame-GP) 1:50.40.
200 IM - 1. Danny Berlitz (Marian) 1:49.81, 2. Francesco D’Avella (Notre Dame-GP) 2:00.72, 3. David LaBarre (Pen Argyl) 2:03.14, 4. Ryan Kerr (Saucon Valley) 2:03.24, 5. Ben Lehman (Northern Lehigh) 2:03.93, 10. Dillon Scott (Northwestern) 2:18.80, 14. Liam Leonard (Marian) 2:29.39.
50 Freestyle - 1. Zach Turnitza (Pottsville) 22.08, 2. Dylan Schreffler (Nativity BVM), 3. Andrew Johnson (Blue Mountain) 22.60, 4. Nicholas Caldwell (Palisades) 22.63, 9. Carson Allen (Palmerton) 23.55, 20. Zeno Zukovich (Tamaqua) 26.40.
100 Butterfly - 1. Brenek Strawn (Bangor) 50.69, 2. Morgan O’Brien (Bangor) 52.58, 3. Ryan Schreffler (Nativity BVM) 52.82, 4. Daniel Hayes (Pen Argyl) 52.9.
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Pottsville 1:29.24, 2. Blue Mountain 1:32.51, 3. Allentown Central Catholic 1:32.97, 4. North Schuylkill 1:40.48, 9. Tamaqua 1:49.38.