SWIMMING - Hurricanes bring home five state medals
Liberty swimmers, Robert Negron, Ben Stuckey, Chase Ledger, and Jake Evert brought home five medals among them after competing at the PIAA State Class 3A Swimming Championships this past weekend at Bucknell University.
In the final event of the weekend, the Hurricanes swam the 400 free relay with a time of 3:10.60 and placed ninth, while the top eight relay teams clinched medals.
“I was really upset because we were so close,” said Evert.
In fact, the Hurricanes were so close to medaling in almost every event they competed in all weekend.
Evert placed 11th in the 100 free in 46.78. Julia McCarthy placed 12th in the 200 IM in 2:05.50. In the 200 free relay, Anthony Delcorso, Jase Smith, Evert, and Negron also placed 12th in 1:26.47, and Smith, Chris Chambers, Negron, and Evert were 13th in the 200 medley relay in 1:35.77.
Earlier in the meet, Negron won a fourth place medal in the 50 free with a time of 20.64.
“I was really hyped up, and I knew what I had to do to win. I was really in the zone, and apparently, I was in the lead at the turn,” said Negron. “During warm-ups [for the 400 free relay] I asked to lead.”
Negron’s thought was that his speed in clear, waveless water would give his teammates a better chance to maintain their place in the race.
“I swam well, a 46.7, and that got us pretty good,” Negron said.
Stuckey dove in next. Then, Ledger.
“I was laser focused on my lane, but I knew Emmaus was next to us, and we were neck-and-neck with them,” Ledger said.
When the decision was made for Evert to anchor, the Hurricane sophomore was a bit nervous, but Coach Reik Foust gave him some motivational words, and assured him that a race does not fall entirely on the shoulders of the anchor. Foust also coached Evert on his breathing and arm motion.
“That helped. I didn’t look at the other lanes, just Emmaus, and he jumped in before me, but we beat them by .3 seconds,” said Evert.
Still, Liberty was in ninth place overall.
“Then we started hearing rumors that North Allegheny [who had placed first] was disqualified,” Evert said.
When Foust confirmed the rumors were true, and that North Allegeheny’s anchor went off the block early, it also confirmed that the Hurricanes medaled with an official eighth place finish.
“Oh, there was a lot of yelling, a lot of hugging. It was euphoria,” said Evert, who had been eyeing the medals table all weekend.
Negron was especially happy for Evert, who is his training partner, and his two senior teammates, Stuckey and Ledger.
“We made it work,” said Ledger, “and I want to give a shout out to our parents and coaches for their dedication and relentless efforts in making us the best possible team we could be.”
In addition to the euphoria of winning a state medal, there was also a touch of the surreal.
“I never expected this, really. I never even saw states coming. After freshman year, I didn’t know if I would stay with swimming,” said Stuckey. “[Today] I tried to focus on everything I learned all season, my kick, my streamline, and not breathing off the wall. If I didn’t stay with swimming, I don’t know where I would be. This was really amazing.”