By DENNY DYROFF
Journal Register News Service
MALVERN -- Friday’s co-ed swim meet that featured Conestoga swimming against Villa Maria Academy (girls) and host Malvern Prep (boys) was like a Las Vegas boxing card that had co-headlining bouts featuring four of the best heavyweights in the world in 12-round non-title fights.
Malvern and ’Stoga are two of the four best boys teams in Chester County this season, and there is a strong possibility that Conestoga (Class AAA) and Villa Maria (Class AA) will finish as this year’s District One champions.
Both Conestoga squads swam well in Friday’s meet. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Villa and Malvern swam better. Villa Maria won the girls meet, 116-68, and Malvern Prep logged a 108-72 win in the boys meet.
If the fans in the packed stands were looking for exciting finishes, then Villa’s Julie Dobson and Molly O’Brien were the biggest crowd-pleasers. In the 50-yard freestyle, they finished as close as they possibly could -- each with a time of 25.37.
After tying for first place in the 50 free, they staged another barnburner in the 100 freestyle. O’Brien touched first at 54.90 and Dobson took second with a time of 54.97.
"I like racing Molly," said Dobson. "She pushes me really well. I like practicing with her every Thursday too. The 50 was the fastest I’ve gone this year -- and it’s my best untapered time."
O’Brien said, "Both the 50 and the 100 were pretty good today. I have good races with Julie. I’m just glad she’s on our team. I was happiest with my 100. I went out faster and was able to get a better lead."
O’Brien and Dobson also swam together on the Hurricanes’ winning 400 free relay along with Sarah Hitchens and Lauren Law. Dobson teamed with Emily Cornell, Olivia Tierney and Law on the first-place 200 medley relay while O’Brien joined with Kaitlyn Alvanos, Cornell and Hitchens on the victorious 200 freestyle relay.
Law and Hitchens were both quadruple winners. Law took first in the 200 IM at 2:11.09 and the 500 freestyle at 5:18.38 while Hitchens won the 100 backstroke at 58.74 and added a victory in the 100 butterfly.
"I think back was a better race because I haven’t done it a lot in dual meets and I needed a good seed time for districts," said Hitchens. "It was a good in-season time. I’m right on track for where I want to be for districts.’
Law said, "This was my first time to swim the 500 this season so it was a little hard to figure out a good pace. I just wanted to go out and see what the competition was. My IM was good. It was a fun race -- and a decent time for this point in the season."
Conestoga’s lone win came when Kaitlyn Benjamin touched first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:59.99.
"I was hoping to go 1:59.50 or faster because that’s automatic cut for districts," said Benjamin. "I could have had better turns."
The Pioneer boys had just one individual event winner -- Waylon Jin, who was first in the 100 breaststroke with a clocking of 1:00.56.
"That was my best time this season," said Jin. "It was my best race. I needed it to place me back on the top of the Central League."
As usual, Malvern was paced by M.P. Salinas and Paul Stockett. Salinas took first in the 200 free at 1:49.50 and the 100 free at 48.23 while Stockett won the 200 IM at 1:57.59 and placed second in the 100 backstroke at 56.61.
"Both races were pretty good," said Salinas, who was just accepted by the U.S. Naval Academy. "I just wanted to win both."
Stockett said, "My IM was good and my back time wasn’t bad. I’m pretty sore right now. I lifted for the first time in a while and I’m feeling it. I wasn’t sure how things would go today."
The Friars’ other individual winners were Billy Beard in the 50 freestyle (22.01), Chris Cary in the 100 butterfly (53.49), Brandon Fronczak in the 500 free (4:49.68) and C.J. Schaffer in the 100 backstroke (52.92).
"Fly felt good," said Cary. "I think it was the best I felt all year for the 100 fly. My strokes and my turns all felt good. Everything was working."
Villa Maria 116, Conestoga 68
200-yard medley relay -- Villa Maria (Cornell, Tierney, Law, Dobson) 1:51.19; 200 freestyle – Benjamin (C) 1:59.99; 200 IM – Law (V) 2:11.09; 50 freestyle – Dobson (V0 and O’Brien (V) 25.37; diving – ; 100 butterfly – Hitchens (V) time not available; 100 freestyle – O’Brien (V) 54.90; 500 freestyle -- Law (V) 5:18.38; 200 freestyle relay -- Villa Maria (O’Brien, Hitchens, Alvanos, Cornell) 1:40.51; 100 backstroke – Hitchens (V) 58.74; 100 breaststroke – Tierney (V) 1:12.01; 400 freestyle relay -- Villa Maria
(O’Brien, Hitchens, Dobson, Law) 3:39.10.
Malvern Prep 108, Conestoga 72
200-yard medley relay -- Malvern Prep (Schaffer, Stockett, Cary, Beard) 1:37.56; 200 freestyle –Salinas (M) 1:49.50; 200 IM – Stockett (M) 1:57.59; 50 freestyle – Beard (M) 22.01; diving –; 100 butterfly – Cary (M) 53.49; 100 freestyle – Salinas (M) 48.23; 500 freestyle -- Fronczak (M) 4:49.68; 200 freestyle relay -- Malvern Prep (Salinas, Cary Dresden, Beard) 1:28.75; 100 backstroke – Schaffer (M) 52.92; 100 breaststroke – Jin (C) 1:00.56; 400 freestyle relay -- Conestoga (Kolluru, Ashmead, Jay, Schon) 3:18.36.