Moll wins first State medal

By on March 22, 2017
Warwick junior Joe Moll powers ahead during the backstroke leg of the PIAA boys 200-yard I.M., ultimately breaking his own school record in 1:52.61. Photo by Mike Shull

Warwick junior Joe Moll powers ahead during the backstroke leg of the PIAA boys 200-yard I.M., ultimately breaking his own school record in 1:52.61. Photo by Mike Shull

Joe Moll was watching the third of four heats in the State Triple-A boys 100 backstroke, so the Warwick junior knew his work was cut out.

“There’s a lot of great swimmers there,” he said, “and that heat went really fast, so I knew I was going to have to go pretty fast in order to place.”

Seeded 8th with a time of 50.92 seconds and swimming in lane eight in the fourth and final heat, Moll rose to the occasion on Sunday afternoon at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

While dropping 47-hundredths of a second from his seed time, he shattered his own school record and claimed a PIAA sixth-place medal after touching the wall in 50.45 seconds.

“It was crazy,” Moll remarked. “I was really happy with that (time). I dropped a lot of time at Districts and I was hoping that I could build off that and drop even more.”

That finish put him in consideration for High School All-American honors.

“As I’ve said before, it’s a career year, but Joe’s just scratched the surface. He’s just going to keep getting better and better,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said. “He broke the school record near the beginning of the year and he broke his own record at least three times, maybe four, and he just keeps progressing down. We were just all very happy for him. Hard work pays off and Joe has certainly put it all together this year.”

Coming on the heels of Saturday’s 200 I.M., it marked the second of two school records that he shattered at the State Meet.

“It really was (a great weekend),” he said. “Definitely coming into the year, that’s nothing I would have thought I’d be doing.”

Unfortunately, Moll missed taking home a medal in the 200 Individual Medley by just a fingernail. His finish of 1:52.61, which was 8-hundredths of a second faster than his seed time of 1:52.69, placed him ninth, barely behind Father Judge junior Colin Reilly (1:52.30) for the eighth and final medal spot.

“I’m just happy I dropped time,” Moll said. “You can’t get upset about (missing a medal). It would have been nice to get the medal, but you’ve just got to be happy to drop time.”

Senior Keir Uhlin, a West Chester University recruit, was knocking on the door to get a State medal in Sunday’s 500 freestyle. While dropping more than a second from his 14th-seeded time of 4:37.65, he placed 11th in 4:36.48.

McDowell junior Bobby Bolmanski took the eighth and final medal, touching the wall in 4:32.40.

“You want to finish your high school career on a best note. He did his lifetime-best 500 free,” Daum said of Uhlin, who also took 18th in Saturday’s 200 freestyle in 1:42.52. “He swam a beautiful race, you couldn’t ask any more, and he finishes as one of the most decorated boys swimmers in the history of Warwick swimming. Just a great outcome for a great kid and a great work ethic.”

All swimmers, due to last Tuesday’s snowstorm, competed under a revised schedule, in which the morning prelims were canceled and athletes swam one time in the timed finals.

“I was a little bit nervous just because this was my first time at States,” he admitted following the 200 I.M. “I was kinda hoping the prelims would be a way to just go through everything. But we had the warm-up session in the morning, so I don’t think it threw me off too much.”

After the butterfly and backstroke legs, Moll’s split of 51.25 seconds was close behind that of eventual gold medalist Connor Doyle (50.82), of Pennsbury. Moll then clocked in at 34.65 on the breaststroke leg of the 200 IM.

“His fly and his backstroke looked really nice and easy and relaxed,” Daum said. “His breaststroke is probably his least strongest stroke and (Joe) knows what he needs to work on next year. He knows to keep working on the breaststroke and there’s more there. His best is yet to come, for sure.”

His best, to date, ended up coming in the 100-yard backstroke on Sunday. After getting a good night’s sleep and turning the page from the 200 I.M., Moll recorded a fast split of 24.55 seconds in the opening 50 and never looked back.

“That’s where I dropped all my time,” said Moll, who swam a 24.9 opening split at Districts.

“He used his strengths, which is his under-water travel off the walls,” Daum said. “And he just sorta said, ‘OK, it’s a once-and-done deal without the preliminaries and finals this year, so you just go and give it your best shot with your only swim.”

That best shot continued in the second 50 of the backstroke event, posting a split of 25.90 seconds, placing him fourth in his heat — and sixth overall.

“I think I had a lot of adrenaline and I just wanted to come home as hard as I could because I knew that was all that was left,” Moll said. “I’ve been kinda working at practice, I knew how much I had and I was feeling pretty good.”

Moll is already looking ahead to 2017-18 season.

“I think I’ve put myself in a good spot this year and I really hope to build off that,” he said.

Elsewhere, junior Cade Uhlin finished 27th in the 500 free (4:45.69), sophomore Oliver Lance was 27th in the 100 backstroke in 53.32 seconds and 30th in the 200 I.M. in 2:01.06, junior Colin Sensenich placed 30th in the 100 butterfly (52.45) and 32nd in the 50 free (22.11), and senior Ryan Hohman finished 31st in the 200 free in 1:46.23.

 

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