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Houtz advances to states; MC swimmers finish with medals in Day one of District 6 swimming championships

By Kenny Varner

UNIVERSITY PARK – with day one in the books, Juniata swimmer Sydney Houtz highlighted what was a very successful day for local swimmers in the District 6 Swimming and Diving Championships held at Penn State University’s McCoy Natatorium Friday.

It was a day that provided locals with a state qualifier and two medal winners as well as numerous personal bests, both for Mifflin County and Juniata swim teams.

It was a record setting day for the Indians Houtz who went head-to-head with her friendly for Penns Valley’s Sophia Gerhart.

Going into the race Gerhart was the higher seed with a top season mark of 59.22 while Houtz’s time was a mark of 1:00.13 in the 100-Yard butterfly.

When the buzzer sounded to start the race, both were just inches of each other, both taking quick turns

With the lead as they finished the first lap and flip over to turn into the second lap, Houtz held a half body length advantage. She continued to hold that lead going into the final two laps.

With both having crisp turns into the third and fourth laps.

On the final length of the race, the crowd watching the race were cheering for the two who were on record pace.

When Houtz finished she touched first, giving her the win and the new District 6 record in which she topped her old District 6 record of 57.10. She topped it with a 56.14 while Gerhart was right behind with a 56.76.

The win also catapulted her back into PIAA state championships at Bucknell.

“I won’t lie I was really nervous for this just because I know how good Sophie is and how much she works but I’m beyond pleased with how I did. It was a toss up either way,” said Sydney Houtz. “The 100-yard butterfly is so hard to race because it’s such a dead sprint. So it was all determined off of a good start and good turns and I think I just out did her but she’s just a fantastic swimmer.”

With one event down, Houtz will have another chance to compete Saturday with the hopes of earning another spot in state competition.

“It’s fabulous to see her in her senior year to compete like this and get that record by herself,” said Juniata coach Amy Houtz. “She was tied before but now she has it for herself. She got into the 56s where she wanted to do for a while so for her to get a low 56 like that is phenomenal.”

Her teammates also performed well, including a 4th place finish by Emily Houtz. Houtz finished fourth with a season best time of 2:05.01 in the girls 200-yard freestyle.

In the 50-yard freestyle Anna Stroup finished sixth in her heat with a 31.30.

Rounding out the other Juniata swimmers competing on the day was Jimmy Zagurskie as he posted a season best time of 26.63 in the 50-yard freestyle.

Mifflin County also has its share of medal winners starting with the veteran of the young Husky squad, Hannah Bonson.

Bonson finished with a 2:15.46, besting her season top time of 2:21.08 en route to the third place nod in the 200-yard IM.

In the first lap, Bonson was right in the top group early on.

Though she dropped a little from the top two she was able to hold a solid position in third place to earn a trip to the podium.

Mifflin County posted a fourth place finish in the opening race of the day, the 200-yard medley relay.

The team consisting of Maddie Baisey, Bonson, Ella Stuck and Isabella Ziegler, posted a time of 2:02.53, topping their previous best by just under 10 seconds.

Stuck also finished strong in her event, the 100-yard butterfly, where she placed fifth overall with a time of 1:05.24. In the process, she also took top honors in her heat.

Mifflin County’s lone male entrant, Ethan Andrews also posted a season best in the boys 200-yard IM. He posted a sixth place time of 2:12.95. His previous best was a 2:14.63.

In the 50-yard freestyle, Ziegler posted her season best as she finished fifth in her heat with a time of 28.53, beating her previous best of 28.58.

Teammate Baisey finished fifth in her heat in the same event, posting a final time of 28.03.

Mifflin County rounded out its day with the girls 200-yard freestyle relay where they finished sixth with a time of 2:10.10. The team consisted of Grace Kauffman, Becca Montgomery, Gracee Tate and Rachel King.

Mifflin County coach Aaron Shepherd was proud of his team’s first day accomplishments.

“The girls swam really well. We’ve been focusing on this in practice and binding and racing,” said Shepherd about his girls swimmers. “Also Ethan dropped a bunch of time in the 200-IM. Elle dropped to a new best in the 100-fly. And our girls relay opened with a season best time.”

Both teams will be back at it Saturday in the second and final day of action starting at 11 A.M.

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