WILKES-BARRE — By now, both coaches should be used to this feeling. At far ends of the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center pool, two close friends emerged from the water with a smile seen countless times before.
Both Holy Redeemer girls coach Mara Pawlenok and Dallas boys coach Romayne Mosier walked away from the District 2 Class 2A Swimming Championships Saturday having accomplished similar feats. The Royals and the Mountaineers each won their fourth consecutive team title.
With another individual and relay win under its belt, Dallas emerged victorious with 262 points, overwhelming second-place Scranton Prep (196) and third-place Tunkhannock (165).
“I’m speechless actually,” Mosier said. “I had these boys since they were freshmen. They went out on top after four years.”
Holy Redeemer’s 243 points were more than enough to defeat Scranton Prep’s 201.5 and Abington Heights’ 198.
“Absolutely, if you told me before the season that we would actually win for a fourth year in row, I would have said that it would be very difficult because of everyone we lost last season and with Abington Heights dropping down to 2A from 3A,” Pawlenok said. “So yeah, it is somewhat amazing.
“The kids are extremely determined, hardworking and they swam their hearts out (this weekend). I can’t tell you how many dropped several seconds off their times.”
Mosier said her senior class —Marcus Wagner, Jack Matusiak, Brian Stepniak and Grant Luksic — was “really close to (her) heart” since they were all seventh-graders in the Dallas swimming program when she took over as head coach.
Wagner, Matusiak and Stepniak each won district golds for the Mountaineers over the weekend. The three also teamed with junior Patrick Gelso for first place in the 400 free relay in a time of 3:18.96, a second off of Dallas’ elusive school record.
Wagner won his second district championship of the weekend, finishing the 500 free in a time of 4:51.64. Wagner finished 14.17 seconds ahead of second-place Nico Lastauskas, of Scranton Prep, and his teammate Ezra Moore took third place.
“I’m thrilled. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Wagner said. “I shaved 10 seconds off last year’s districts. I credit my coaches for keeping me on pace throughout the race.”
Holy Redeemer’s Rachel Finnegan won her first career district championship, taking the 100 free in 54.91 seconds over second-place Morgan Manglaviti of Tunkhannock. Finnegan shaved 2.1 seconds off her seed time in the win.
“It hasn’t even hit me yet. It’s actually overwhelming,” Finnegan said. “I worked so hard for this. It finally paid off.”
The Royals’ Julie Ann Mahle touched the wall first in the 100 back in 59.52 seconds. Mahle cut 3.16 seconds off her seed time and outswam Holy Cross’ Megan Carey and Lake-Lehman’s Sami Sabol (1:03.1) for the victory.
Holy Redeemer also received an outstanding effort from Bethany Chmil in the 100 breaststroke. Chmil’s 1:10.21 finished 41-hundreths of a second behind winner Abington Heights’ Sydney Gualtieri.
The championship ends a storied career for Redeemer’s senior class that consists of Mahle, Bethany Chmil, Nell Chmil, Stephanie McCole, Kelsey Williams and manager Sydney Smith. The six completed their careers with a district championship every season.
Crestwood’s Josh Grzech narrowly earned his first career district championship, defeating Stepniak in the 100 free by two-tenths of a second with a mark of 48.2 seconds.
“It went great. It went exactly as planned,” Grzech said. “Last year, (Stepniak) had me by a touch. This year, I got him by a touch.”
Holy Redeemer sophomore Terry Vrabec won his first career district championship, clocking in at 1:00.53 in the 100 breast. Vrabec cut 2.3 seconds off his 100 breast and will compete at states for the second-straight year.
“I’m very happy he did a great job,” Holy Redeemer coach Matt Mill said. “He had a great drop. We want him to shave a couple more seconds so he can sneak into the medals at states.”
Tunkhannock’s Ben Spencer claimed his second district championship of the weekend. Spencer had his eyes on a district record and won handily with a time of 53.65 seconds in the 100 back.
“I definitely thought I could get a better time,” Spencer said. “I could do a lot better at states. I’m happy and sad. I’m happy my team is doing so well in my final district meet.”
Nanticoke’s Connie Medura contributed a notable performance with a third-place finish in the 100 breast. Tunkhannock’s Ashley and Cheyanne Kasmierski took fourth and fifth in the same event.
The Tigers’ Joe Moffitt and Dallas’ Reid Luksic swam third and fourth respectively in the 100 breast. Dallas’ Kaylin Augustine tied for fifth in the 100 back. Redeemer’s Cody Smith claimed third in the 100 back. Coughlin’s Carly Ray tabbed fifth in the 100 free. Chris Lukasewski clocked fourth in the 100 free.