Ephrata’s Chad Jones admits he was only thinking about Thursday’s big Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2 swim meet in Elizabethtown.
The boys’ and girls’ competitions had implications for the championship. With victories, the climbers would conclude the section titles. The Bears’ wins would land at least a tie for the crown.
“All week, that’s all I thought about,” he said. “Monday night in the living room, I said to my mother, ‘E-town Thursday, E-town Thursday.’ That’s all I thought about and it paid off.”
Jones was even able to finish the game, anchoring the 400-yard freestyle relay that capped Ephrata’s 95-75 victory in the boys’ encounter.
The Mounts also won the women’s team by the same score of 95-75, winning both Division Two regular season titles for Ephrata.
With championships on the line, both encounters were everything they were meant to be.
“On the bus here, everyone was pretty calm, soaking in everything, thinking about what was going to happen,” Jones said. “Tonight was just awesome. The build-up started and everyone was electric tonight. It was crazy.”
After trailing early, the Bears tied the boys’ encounter, 31-31, at intermission and took the lead after finishing second, third and fourth in the 100 butterfly.
However, the Mountaineers responded in the next race – the 100 freestyle.
Sophomore Ethan Lloyd won the 100 in 50.13 and teammate Coy Schwanger scored the second, helping Ephrata regain the lead.
“I studied E-town and knew Coy should have a great run,” Mounts coach Mickey Molchany said. “We said that 100 free is huge for us. It just took off and held on. It was exactly what we needed it to do.
Freshman Joey Myer earned his first individual victory of the night in the next race, the 500 freestyle in 5:15.96 and Ephrata scored third and fourth to open a 59-51 lead.
Jones won the 100 backstroke and suddenly the Mounts were leading 76-64, which set the stage for Myer in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.91).
Still, it was mathematically possible for the Bears to retire from the competition by finishing first and second in the 400 freestyle relay, but Lloyd, Schwanger, Thatcher Eby and Jones took 3:35.40 to clinch the competition and the crown of the league.
Jones, Myer and Lloyd all won two events for the Mounts while rookie Everett Rachel scored the victory for Elizabethtown with his 23.20 in the 50 freestyle.
Although the score was the same, the girls’ encounter didn’t quite have the suspense as three freshmen and one sophomore won two individual events and were on two victorious stints.
Ava Knopsnyder (200 IM, 100 breaststroke), Bria Burkholder (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke) and Megan Martin (200 and 500 freestyle) were the rookies who excelled. Sophomore Kauri Parsons won both the 50 and 100 free runs.
“I knew we had the top speed. But I knew our depth would have to pass and they did,” Molchany said.
Elizabethtown coach Chad Houck was far from disappointed after the game.
“You want every encounter to be like this,” he said. “It’s probably not good for my blood pressure, but coming from both sides knew it was going to be a close encounter. We have known this since last year.
“We couldn’t do much. They were just a little faster on several levels. I took a few risks, but they wouldn’t have changed anything. We had a DQ in the last stint (boys) which made the score look a little worse.