Moll wins three golds, as Warriors take 2nd at L-Ls

By on February 14, 2018

For the first time in Joe Moll’s high school career, the Warwick boys didn’t have home-pool advantage last Friday for the L-L League Meet.

The Lititz recCenter’s friendly confines were replaced by Wilson’s Roy G. Snyder Natatorium.

“I don’t know how I felt about losing home field,” Moll said, “but we swam great.”

No argument there.

With their gold-medal finish in the 400 free relay in 3:16.58, the Warriors clinched second-place in the final team standings with 77 points, behind only Manheim Township (107), who won the L-L crown for the first time since 2013.

“I think we scored the most points per kid of any team there,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said. “We had eight boys and we got second. Township won four events, but we won three, and we were within 30 points. That’s a lot, but we lost to them in the dual meet by 69, so they all stepped it up.”

“Especially not having the numbers a lot of these other teams do, it was great to come away and look great in the standings at the end,” Moll said.

There’s no denying that Moll looked great while winning individual golds in the 200 Individual Medley (1:55.83) and 100 backstroke (52.15), in addition bringing home gold with the 400 free relay and bronze in the 200 medley relay (1:40.12).

In all, the Warriors clinched nine medals. Junior Oliver Lance pocketed hardware in two individual events in the 200 I.M. and 100 back, along with two relays, while senior Cade Uhlin captured medals in the 500 and 200 freestyle, to go with his gold in the 400 free relay, to help lead the way.

“Ollie Lance has been sick for about two or three weeks, and he did season bests in his backstroke and I.M.,” Daum said. “Joe Moll is Joe Moll. He still has the S on his chest. Adam Deckard did two lifetime bests. Reid Harpel did season-best times. Owen Campbell did his lifetime best in the 100 free (placing tied for 14th in 51.17). When kids do well, then that becomes infectious and it’s like, ‘OK, now it’s my turn to step up.’”

The 200 medley relay started the medal haul, riding Lance, Moll, senior Reid Harpel and senior Adam Deckard to a bronze in 1:40.12.

Next, Uhlin earned his first medal of the night, dropping two seconds off his time in the 200 free (1:51.00) to claim bronze in 1:48.90.

A short time later, Moll repeated as the L-L champ in the 200 I.M., touching the wall first in 1:55.83. That was nearly two seconds faster than his finish of 1:57.78 while taking gold in 2017.

“There was a lot of great competition in the 200 I.M., so I was happy to come away with gold in that one,” Moll said. “You’ve got Ollie, you’ve got (Hempfield’s) Andre (Fissella), all the Hempfield boys in there, Luke Emmerling from Ephrata. A lot of great swimmers.”

Speaking of Lance, he finished with the bronze in 2:01.03, not far behind silver-medalist Fissella (2:00.08). Lance’s time was more than a half second faster than his seed of 2:01.69.

“I felt pretty good,” Lance said. “I came in today thinking I just wanted to get best times for the season and I did. I was very happy with them.”

In the 100 butterly, Harpel picked up five important team points for the Warriors, swimming to a fourth-place medal in 54.49 seconds.

Then Uhlin brought his A-game in the 500 free, dropping nearly five seconds from his seed time (5:01.27) to place fourth in 4:56.91.

It was still a tight race in the team standings after the 200 free relay, with Warwick and Hempfield tied in the runner-up spot with 43 points, one ahead of Cedar Crest (42).

But a 1-2 finish by Moll and Lance in the 100 backstroke — accounting for 16 team points — put the Warriors in sole possession of second for good.

In the friendly rivalry between WHS teammates, Moll won the gold in 52.15 seconds and Lance was close behind in 53.69 seconds.

For Moll, it knocked 95-hundredths of a second off his previous season best (53.10).

“It’s real exciting,” he said. “I put down some fast times, which puts me in a good spot for Districts and States coming up. I think I met all my expectations.”

Lance was equally as excited, finally reaching his season-long quest to break 54 seconds.

“I came in today with the mindset that I just wanted to (break 54) so bad,” said Lance, who was seeded third in 54.03 seconds. “This entire week, we were practicing starts and turns. I really worked on my start mainly because that’s the weakest part of my 100 backstroke. I thought I got better this week and I used that in this race, so that helped.”

Competing in lane four in the 400 free relay — between Manheim Township and Hempfield — also helped the Warriors’ cause.

“We definitely fed off of Hempfield right next to us,” Lance acknowledged. “They’ve been almost right with us throughout the season, so we wanted to beat them so bad. So we were looking over at them the entire time just hoping to beat them.”

Seeded third in that event in 3:41.37, Warwick had little margin for error if they wanted to clinch second in the final team standings.

“If we would have lost (the 400 free relay), we would have gotten third or fourth,” Lance said.

They got a test from Hempfield, but the foursome of Lance, Moll, Uhlin and Deckard would not be denied, taking the gold in 3:16.58. The Black Knights (3:18.81) and Blue Streaks (3:20.85) followed in second and third.

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