District magic from the Warriors

By on March 4, 2015
 Seeded eighth in the 500 free, Warwick senior Jack Lance earned a fifth-place medal at Districts with a lifetime best swim of 4:40.03. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Seeded eighth in the 500 free, Warwick senior Jack Lance earned a fifth-place medal at Districts with a lifetime best swim of 4:40.03. (Photo by Mike Shull)

You would have thought that Warwick senior swimmer Jack Lance had won the MVP Award at the Super Bowl last Saturday.

“This is Disney World and he’s going,” Warrior coach Mark Daum said.

The Magic Kingdom seemed to be a fitting reference for the magic that Lance performed at the District Three Triple-A Championships at Cumberland Valley last weekend.

And his teammates too, for that matter.

In all, the Warriors captured seven medals and shattered three school records.

Lance dropped 10 seconds off his time in the 500 free and earned a fifth-place medal in 4:40.03, in addition to shattering the school record in the 200 I.M. (1:56.08) en route to a seventh-place finish. Cory Gebhard set the previous record of 1:57.51 in 1998.

Sophomore Keir Uhlin, one lane over from Lance in the 500 free, took home a fourth-place medal in 4:39.69 &tstr; a nine-second drop from 4:48.95 &tstr; and a sixth in the 200 free (1:43.50).

Junior Tim Griest claimed sixth-place hardware in the 100 free (47.45), junior Chris Cicala was eighth in the 50 free (22.06) and the two swimmers teamed up with Uhlin and freshman Colin Sensenich on the 400 free relay which took eighth in a school-record time of 3:15.16. The top eight finishers in each event received medals.

“Every single Warwick kid that touched the water (Saturday) did a lifetime best time. That’s just unheard of,” said Daum, whose Warriors ended up eighth in the team standings with 131 points.

Although the WHS boys’ 200 medley relay foursome of Cicala, junior David Heckel, Sensenich and Griest fell a little bit short of winning hardware on Friday night, placing 13th, they broke the school record by touching the wall in 1:39.65. The team consisting of Tom Canfield, Andy Derr, Gebhard and Matt Martzall set the previous record in 1998.

The top three-finishers all earned automatic bids to the State Triple-A Championships, to be held March 13-14 at Bucknell University. Griest (100 free), Lance (200 IM, 500 free) and Uhlin (200 free, 500 free) all advanced based on their times, joining Warwick’s Lauryn Ober and Emma Schouten in the girls events.

“It feels really great (to qualify),” Lance said. “Last year, I didn’t think had a shot at all of making it, and to make it with so many more (teammates) &tstr; it’s a bigger team than we normally have &tstr; so it’s great.”

Uhlin and Lance were side-by-side in the 500 free, seeded 6th and 8th respectively, and as Daum noted, they helped to push one another.

“It’s just their work ethic,” Warwick’s coach said of the two swimmers’ success, “and it was nice that they were beside each other. You can’t ask for a better set-up.”

Muhlenberg senior Vince Filippini (4:32.61), competing in the third of four heats, won the gold medal. In the final heat, Wilson senior Matt Guenter (4:34.08), who took silver, set the pace, but Uhlin and Lance didn’t go away.

“In the last 50, I was just trying to catch back up,” Lance recalled. “I beat (Keir) at the League meet and he didn’t want to let me beat him again, so that pushed him to power forward.”

In the end, Uhlin did edge out Lance by 34-hundredths of a second. His time of 4:39.69 was an improvement from a year ago, when Uhlin placed ninth in 4:44.67 at Districts.

“Last year,” Daum said, “he came and found out what it was about and now he knows and he responded just beautifully. It was a great breakthrough meet for him.”

Asked about Uhlin’s nine-second drop, he added, “The kid is so driven and so focused, nothing surprises me. He just has to channel it and get it going in the right direction and he’s done it now.”

Lance, meanwhile, had hoped to shatter 4:40 in that event and missed by the slimmest of margins with his time of 4:40.03.

“I was a little upset because I didn’t break it,” Lance said, “but I have another chance to do that.”

His confidence should certainly be at an all-time high as he enters the State Meet.

“He’s the ultimate Horatio Alger story,” Daum said of Lance, who didn’t qualify for Districts last year in the 500 free.

It wasn’t only the 500 free that Lance dropped time. He also dropped more than three seconds from his seed of 1:59.44 in the 200 IM while shattering Gebhard’s 17-year-old mark.

“He had good drops at Leagues and he wasn’t fully tapered or rested and shaved,” Daum said. “But he still was over two seconds off of (the record). So was it unheard of? No, but Jack was hot and on a roll and was bound and determined. Nobody said anything going into the meet, but I think he probably had that in the back of his mind. The kid’s just really been working very hard, and who knows what happens when hard work and opportunity meet.”

Griest was working hard while dropping nearly two seconds off of his seed time (49.23) in the 100 free, touching the wall sixth in 47.45 seconds. The Warwick junior won his heat &tstr; the third of four &tstr; and was just three-hundredths of a second behind fifth-place Benjamin Johnston (47.42), of Cumberland Valley. He barely missed a medal in Friday’s 50 free, taking ninth in 22.11 seconds.

Griest, of course, was also part of the record-breaking 200 medley and 400 free relay teams. Initially, Warwick wasn’t in a medal position in the latter, but when Muhlenberg was disqualified, that bumped the Warriors into eighth with their time of 3:15.16, which shattered the mark of 3:15.22, set by Griest, Cicala, Jon Zartman and Justin Mitchell at Districts last year.

“We were really trying for the record,” Cicala said, “because we knew this was going to be a strong year for us.”

“What more can you ask for? You can quantify this sport, a best is a best &tstr; it’s not someone else’s opinion,” Daum remarked.

The same can be said for Cicala in the 50 free, in which he dropped 15-hundredths of a second en route to the eighth-place medal.

“It was a best time and I was very happy to medal,” said Cicala, who also placed 10th in the 100 back in 54.09 seconds. “It’s amazing how much time people dropped because I was seeded sixth, I beat my time and I got eighth. But I was happy … a best time is a best time.”

Elsewhere, Sensenich placed 15th in the 100 fly (53.44) and 26th in the 100 free (50.45), junior David Heckel was 13th in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.81) and 16th in the 200 IM (2:02.17), sophomore Ryan Hohman finished 28th in the 500 free (5:04.11) and freshman Joe Moll was 19th in the 100 back in 55.68 seconds.

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