Bronze for Beard
The finality of his high school career hit Warwick’s Nick Beard as he climbed on the starting blocks last Saturday at the District Three Triple-A Swimming Championships.
“I just told myself that, ‘This could be my last swim,’ and I really wanted to go out with a bang and continue on to States,” Beard said. “So I think that was a lot of motivation for me.”
That motivation was clearly evident.
The Warrior senior dropped a second and a half off his seed time in the 100 breaststroke, touching the wall in a lifetime-best 58.96 seconds to claim the bronze medal Cumberland Valley High School.
The State berth that Beard badly wanted?
“That’s really what I wanted,” admitted Beard, who broke his previous school record of 59.68 seconds, set last year at Districts. “I was really gunning for it. That was one of my main goals, really, just to make automatics at States.”
“That was awesome,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said. “That’s an overused word, but you could tell today was his day. He brought his A-game, he was ready. He was all guns blazing today.”
Beard wasn’t the only swimmer on his A-game for the Warwick boys. Overall, they brought home four District medals, a school record in the 400 free relay, numerous career best times, and a strong ninth-place finish in the team standings with 117!-W points. Only a fingernail separated them from eighth-place Wilson (118).
“It’s super,” Daum said of their team finish. “I’m just thrilled. They’re on a roll, they’ve pulled together and all the credit’s to them.”Beard, who plans to attend Dickinson College and swim for the Red Devils, definitely deserved a lot of credit for his performance in the 100 breaststroke. After the first 50, he had a split of 27.61 seconds, and then he brought it home strong, placing behind only Hershey’s Jack Kushner (57.52) and Hempfield’s Tre Fissella (57.74).
“Great way to finish his high school career,” Daum said. “He wanted it.”
“It felt great,” Beard said. “I felt incredibly fast and it was right about where I wanted to go time-wise. I’m really happy about (going to States).”
Beard also competed in the 200 I.M. on Friday, placing 12th in 1:59.85.
“It went good,” he said. “I wanted to focus more on the 100 breaststroke today, but that was definitely a lifetime best (Friday), so I was really happy with how I placed (in the 200 I.M.).”
Justin Mitchell was also on a roll for the Warriors, placing fourth in the 200 free (1:42.23) and fifth in the 500 free (4:38.88). Only the top three place-finishers in each event earned an automatic ticket to States, slated for March 12-13 at Bucknell University, but Mitchell’s time in both events enabled him to advance.
The Warwick senior shaved nearly three seconds off his seed time (1:45.20) in the 200 free while turning in a lifetime best performance, and his 500 free – more than three seconds better than his seed (4:42.21) – was just off his career-best time.
Meanwhile, the foursome of sophomores Tim Griest and Chris Cicala, and senior Jon Zartman and Mitchell touched the wall in a new school record time of 3:15.22 in the 400 free relay for a seventh-place medal. Although their time fell a little bit short of States, they shattered the previous school mark of 3:15.88, set last year at Districts by Ryan Mitchell, Griest, Zartman and Justin Mitchell.
“That’s what they were shooting for,” Daum said.
Freshman Keir Uhlin added 9th-place finishes in the 200 free (1:46.88) and 500 free (4:44.67), Zartman chipped in with 11th-place points in the 200 free (1:47.46), Griest took 12th in the 50 free (22.67) and 14th in the 100 free (48.84) and the 200 free relay (Cicala, Griest, Uhlin, Mitchell) finished 11th in a time of 1:29.80.
The top 16 place-finishers scored points, as Cicala (17th in 100 back in 55.80 and 20th in 200 I.M. in 2:02.85), junior Jack Lance (19th in the 200 I.M. in 2:02.84) and sophomore David Heckel (20th in 100 breaststroke in 1:03.69) barely missed.
“Timmy Griest did a lifetime best time,” Daum said, “Jon Zartman tied his lifetime best time, Keir Uhlin did a lifetime best time in the 500 free, Justin (Mitchell) was within tenths of a lifetime best time, Chris Cicala dropped two seconds, lifetime best time backstroke, David Heckel dropped a (second) at Leagues in breaststroke and dropped again here, so he did another best time. That’s our best time in the (in the 400 free relay), so you can’t ask for much better of a day than that. This sport you can quantify. If you do your best and you know you did your best by that board, that’s all you can ask.”
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.
by Bruce Morgan