Relay Replay

By on February 13, 2019

For the second straight year, Warwick girls’ 400 free relay win clinches L-L League title

By Bruce Morgan

After helping the Warwick girls 400 free relay take gold in 3:39.71, clinching the Lady Warriors’ third straight L-L League championship, seniors Maya Hartzler and Catherine Chen receive congratulations from their teammates at Wilson’s Roy G. Snyder Natatorium last Saturday night. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer
After helping the Warwick girls 400 free relay take gold in 3:39.71, clinching the Lady Warriors’ third straight L-L League championship, seniors Maya Hartzler and Catherine Chen receive congratulations from their teammates at Wilson’s Roy G. Snyder Natatorium last Saturday night. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Swimming the anchor leg on the 400 freestyle relay last Saturday night, Warwick senior Maya Hartzler could sense the moment.

Not far behind her, Conestoga Valley and Manheim Township were closing ground.

And the stakes were high.

With the Lady Streaks owning a razor-thin one-point lead over Warwick in the team chase, the outcome of the relay would determine the Lancaster-Lebanon League girls champion.

“(CV and Township) were kinda building and I was like, ‘OK, here we go,’” Hartzler said, “and I thought, ‘I’ve just got to swim my race and do the best I can.’”

Hartzler’s best — after getting the lead from Catherine Chen, Izzy Miller and Kendall Eby — was plenty to clinch gold for the Lady Warriors in the 400 free relay in 3:39.71, which marked a 10-second improvement from their seed time (3:49.44).

With it, Warwick took home its third straight L-L crown, edging out Manheim Township 85 1/2 to 80 1/2 at Wilson’s Roy G. Snyder Natatorium.

“It feels so good to win it three years in a row,” Hartzler said. “It’s always unexpected, so it feels amazing.”

It was just 10 days earlier that Manheim Township defeated Warwick 108-72 to clinch the Section One crown and cap a 9-0 regular season.

Plus, with the Lady Warriors losing State qualifiers Sophie Guthridge, Tyler Mandrell and Lauryn Ober to graduation last year, it might’ve been easy to look past the Warwick girls at the L-L Meet.

“We lost so many kids and they were the home run hitters,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said.

Then consider that nine of the 23 girls on Warwick’s roster are freshmen.

“They’re young and they just weren’t intimidated,” Daum said. “They said, ‘OK, we’re just going to go see what we can do.’”

All the Lady Warriors did was bring home 12 L-L medals, including two golds — in the 200 freestyle relay (Chen, Hannah Greenway, Morgan Stuhltrager, and Hartzler) and 400 freestyle relay.

Ultimately, for the second time in as many years, the team title came down to the final event, and yet again, Warwick delivered.

“I don’t know what to say,” Daum remarked. “I’m at a loss for words. It’s almost like deja vu all over again. I mean, Township had four good girls and our kids were on a roll. We dropped 10 seconds on that relay. Dropping that kind of time is just surreal. It’s unheard of. I can’t say enough for all my kids.”

The Warwick girls’ medal haul was started by the foursome of Lydia Hocker, Stuhltrager, Miller and Greenway, who won bronze in 1:54.36 in Friday’s 200 medley relay.

Next, Hartzler went from the 6th seed (2:03.40) in the 200 free to winning silver, dropping five seconds from her time to touch the wall in 1:58.77.

“I was not expecting that at all,” Hartzler said. “I thought, ‘I’m in lane one, no one’s expecting me to do anything,’ and then I went and got second, looked up at the scoreboard and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ I felt really good.”

That was the first of four medals for Hartzler, along with a seventh-place finish in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.73 and her two relay golds.

“(Maya) was hurting for a week and a half, she had some muscle issues, and we were pulling everything out of our hat,” Daum said. “And boy, as a senior, she just rose and had the best meet of her life. Disney can’t write endings like that. She came in and nailed it. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, we’re down by three, and she hit a grand slam.”

Hartzler wasn’t alone.

Greenway and Stuhltrager each also claimed two individual and two relay medals. Following a fourth-place effort in 50 free in 25.08 seconds, Greenway tied for eighth in the 100 free (56.41). Stuhltrager, meanwhile, was fourth in the 100 fly (59.87) and sixth in the 200 Individual Medley in 2:16.60.

Another double individual winner was Miller, who placed fourth in the 100 backstroke in 1:01.28 and sixth in the 100 fly (1:00.20).

And when the Lady Warriors’ 200 free relay took gold in 1:39.71 in Friday’s final event, improving by nearly four seconds from its seed time of 1:43.29, Warwick had a six-point lead, 55-49, over Manheim Township going into Saturday’s action.

“We were up by six and I said, ‘The seeds didn’t have us in the cards,’” Daum remarked. “I figured maybe 10 or 15 points we’d be behind. And these kids just swam out of their suit.”

Starting things off Saturday, Warwick picked up two place-winners in the 100 free, as Chen took silver (53.35) and Greenway tied for eighth.

Two events later, Miller touched the wall fourth in the 100 back and the Warwick girls had hope.

“After the backstroke,” Daum said, “I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to be close.’”

Sure enough, even after the Lady Streaks’ Olivia Pyott took fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.14. Warwick was within one point.

Although Daum didn’t tell his swimmers, Hartzler and her 400 freestyle relay teammates knew by word-of-mouth on the pool deck.

“Everyone was saying, ‘It’s down to this relay,’” Hartzler recalled, “and I was like, ‘Don’t tell me that yet. Tell me after I swim.’ There was so much energy flowing through all of us and we were like, ‘We have to win.’”

Chen, Miller and Eby did their job to get Warwick in front and then Hartzler brought it home.

“You can’t dream or predict anything like this,” Daum said. “Township is Township, and it’s like two heavyweights just swinging it out there in the pool.” 

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