Mahler Has Record-breaking Day
WILKES-BARRE — Whether it’s the first one or the latest in a string of them, any gold medal carries special weight.
Four Wyoming Valley Conference individual swimmers and one relay team reached the top of the podium Friday claiming gold medals during the first day of the District 2 Class 2A Swimming Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC.
The smile stretched ear to ear on the face of Wyoming Seminary’s Kylee Kolbicka after the junior left the pool following her win in the 100 butterfly for her first gold.
“It’s amazing, I’ve never won an individual (district) race,” Kolbicka said. “It felt so good. I’ve been swimming butterfly my entire life, so it felt really good to win.”
At the other end of the spectrum is Holy Redeemer’s Adam Mahler, who’s amassed quite a collection of medals throughout his career, including last year’s PIAA gold in the 100 butterfly.
He picked up two more on Friday, winning the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.
“Each (gold medal) is different,” he said. “Each one has its own special worth to me.”
So do the records he’s set.
His winning times of 1 minute, 42.14 seconds in the 200 free and 49.18 seconds in the 100 fly both set district records.
With the CYC being Holy Redeemer’s home pool and its record board hanging on the wall, Mahler’s name is prominently displayed for all to see, a lasting reminder of Mahler’s legacy even after the senior moves on to East Carolina University and a goal for everyone else to shoot for.
“It’s something I’m glad I get to put up there,” Mahler said. “I get to say, ‘This is mine.’ And I get to watch as other people come in here and they want those records and I’m so happy I get to be the person they’re chasing after.”
Kolbicka celebrates gold with teammates
Koblicka was barely out of the pool after winning the girls 100 butterfly (57.81) when a group of teammates engulfed her in a celebratory hug.
It was a reflection of Kolbicka’s own words before the race began.
“My big takeaway was, and I said this to the girls before the race, no matter what everyone finishes, you’re going to be happy for each other,” Kolbicka said. “I think that really motivated everyone to do really well.”
Kolbicka led virtually wire to wire, starting strong and not letting up until she touched the wall first.
“When I first dove in, I just felt amazing like, ‘I know this going to be a good race,’” she said. I just kept that same effort through the whole entire 100.”
Dallas duo wins gold
Despite already having a gold medal in her possession from last year, Dallas’ Melissa Leonard entered Friday with a bit of nerves.
She was the top seed to defend her title in the 200 freestyle, but only by fractions of a second.
To calm those nerves, she called back on her preparation and swam with a steady determination.
“I won last year and it was really nerve-wracking. I was seeded first this year, so it was really nerve-wracking again,” she said. “I knew coach (Romayne) Moiser has prepared me so much this season, for this race specifically. Going into the race, I had a very good advantage from that. I just had to stay in my lane and focus on what I had to do for my race.”
She took first in 1:55.88, over two seconds faster than second-place Sydney Lloyd (Berwick), whom Leonard pulled away from over the final portion of the race.
“I always tell myself, if I’m with them for this long, why would I let them beat me at the end?” Leonard said. “If I could stay with someone the whole race, I’m not going to let them pull away from me at the end. I just get this adrenaline rush and push ahead as hard as I can.”
She was later joined atop the podium by teammate Dennis Dukinas, who powered past the field in the 200 individual medley.
Last year, Dukinas barely sneaked on the medal stand finishing sixth; this year he swam to the top of it.
“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “Last year was amazing coming from a sixth to a first, I just don’t know how to feel right now; I’m stunned.”
Dukinas was in a tight race through the first two legs, but pulled away during the breaststroke portion. He swam that leg in 33.98, three -and-a-half seconds faster than anyone else. He ended up winning in 2:04.23, over five seconds clear of Lake-Lehman’s Logan Kuhar.
“I really just know my back(stroke)’s not that great and I know I need to push through my breast, so I give everything I have into that breast and throw the last bit of energy left into that free,” Dukinas said. “My breast(stroke) is just where I excel to I use that to my advantage whenever I swim in this event.”
Tigers get redemption
Tunhannock’s boys 200 freestyle relay team had a year to stew on last year’s disqualification.
This year, the team of Davis Tidball, Julien Madus, Dylan Mislevy and Dyllan Henning found redemption, edging out Holy Redeemer for first place in 1:32.1.
“It’s pretty nice. After what happened last year with the disqualification, it was nice to be back on top, unofficially last year, this year its just nice to up there actually,” Henning said.
Henning’s anchor leg powered his team past the Royals, swimming neck-and-neck in the adjacent lane.
“I knew that we had it if we do our times that we’re supposed to,” Henning said. “Me being the anchor this year, last year I led it off and I ended up DQing, false starting. I had quite a bit of pressure on me being the anchor to close it out and I ended up getting job done.”
“We all knew what we had to do,” Mislevy added. “We all knew it was going to be close so as long as we pulled the times we knew we could, we knew it was going to be good.”
Mislevy said the tightness of the race brought out the best in the group.
“It’s crazy when someone’s breathing down your neck, how fast you could actually push yourself,” he said. “That’s what really drives most swimmers. A close race really brings the best out.
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