Dallas pretty much had the district championship in the bag. All the Mountaineers needed was a punctuation mark for their upset bid for the team title — perhaps their most unlikely yet.
And the last race, the headliner, pitted both Dallas and Wyoming Seminary’s fastest swimmers on the 400 free relay.
That should have come to no one’s surprise, given that the Dallas anchor was a four-time all-star. Facing one of the fastest swimmers in the league, senior Abby Zolner came back from a two-second deficit to outrace Wyoming Seminary’s Tara Kupsky by three-tenths of a second.
Four district team titles in four years. A perfect sweep.
With three district championships and four state medals, Zolner was selected as the Times Leader Girls Swimmer of the Year for the 2018 season. In the Wyoming Valley Conference’s most talented crop of talent in recent memory that featured the past four Girls Swimmers of the Year, Zolner stood out among the rest.
“This turned out to be one of the hardest seasons I’ve had because Sem had so many good swimmers,” Zolner said. “It was easily the most challenging. Obviously, we were calculating, but we didn’t think about any of it because were just focused on that last race.
“It was such a cool way to end my career at the CYC.”
Zolner’s four medals at the PIAA Class 2A championships helped Dallas propel to a state runner-up finish in the team standings.
“Oh my gosh, it’s the end of a very long career,” Zolner said. “Losing seniors and getting new freshmen seemed to be a challenge for us every year. But then to get second in the state, that was an amazing experience, and I’ll never forget it.”
The four-time Times Leader all-star took on a newfound role during her final season. She switched from the starter to the anchor position on the Mountaineers’ 200 and 400 free relays. The move paid off at PIAAs: Dallas took fourth in the 400 free relay in 3:34.67 and sixth in the 200 free relay in 1:39.15.
“I thrived on the pressure,” she said. “This is my last year. I kept thinking, ‘No one is going to beat me.’ I feel like that is a good preparation for life. It’s how you want to do everything.”
Her most defining moment of the season, she says, was her individual performance in the 100 butterfly. She came back from second-to-last through 50 yards (and eighth during prelims) to touch the wall in fourth place at 57.55 seconds. Zolner also medaled in the 200 IM in 2:10.72.
She completes her career with seven state medals and six district championships.
She, Gianna Leo and Annalise Cheshire become the only Dallas girls swimmers to win four straight team championships. As relay partners for four years, she credits Cheshire for her own personal success.
“It’s been forever that we’ve been friends,” Zolner said. “We ended up being good friends, and we push each other as teammates. It was hard to find new people to do the relays with us every year. It’s sad to think we are going our separate ways when we leave for college. It’s been a long, fun journey.”
Zolner is attending the University of Pittsburgh next fall as a biology and premed major. The Dallas resident is the lone daughter of Cindy and Walter Zolner. She has three brothers named Jeremy, Andrew and Wally.
On Monday, Zolner won a district track and field championship in the 300 hurdles. With just limited time to prepare for track after an arduous swimming season, she led Dallas to a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 girls title.
Sr. – Sprints
The Dallas sprinter closed her career with arguably her most accomplished season to date. The Denison-bound senior graduates with six state medals and nine district championships to her credit. At states, Cheshire swam fifth in the 50 free, and she led off two relays that took fourth and sixth place. She raced to a 24.01-second victory in the 50 free and helped Dallas to a 400 free relay win at districts.
Fr. – Distance
Dahlgren made an impact in just her first season with a state bronze medal in the 400 free relay. At districts, the Blue Knight frosh touched third in the 500 free (5:16.67) and fourth in the 200 free (2:00.15). She qualified to states in both events, finishing in 17th and 25th place.
Jr. – Breaststroke
Federici notched a pair of bronze medals at the state championships. She was a part of the 200 medley and 400 free relays that finished third. At districts, Federici came in second place in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:07.05 finish. She placed 23rd in the event at PIAAs.
Wyoming Valley West
So. – Diving
For her first regional championship, Ginocchetti broke her coach’s five-year district diving record. Her regional score of 452.1 beat the field by 119.7 points. Ginocchetti reached finals at states and finished in 16th place.
So. – Fly/Free
Kolbicka was the lead for the 400 free relay and anchor for the 200 medley relay that both earned bronze medals at the state championships. Individually, she claimed third place in the 100 free (53.58) and fourth in the 100 fly (59.8). She qualified for PIAAs in both events and placed 18th in the 100 free.
So. – Medley
The younger Kupsky sister came in 16th place in the state in the 200 IM. She was third at districts with a 2:12.84 in the event. April swam in the preliminaries of the 400 free relay that eventually took third place at PIAAs.
Sr. – Medley/Fly
Kupsky wraps up her final season with seven state medals and seven district championships. She defeated Swimmer of the Year Abby Zolner and sister April to win the 200 IM before taking fifth in the event at PIAAs in 2:08.63. Tara took a pair of Blue Knight relays – 400 free and 400 medley – to third-place performances at the state championships.
Sr. – Diving
Leo was one of three seniors to sweep districts throughout her career. She finished second at the meet with a score of 351.4. Leo improved upon last year’s performance by making the PIAA finals and finishing 10th with 305.9 points.
So. – Distance
Leonard captured three PIAA medals in Dallas’ state runner-up bid. She came in sixth place in the state in the 500 free. Her 400 free and 200 free relays came in fourth and sixth place in Lewisburg, and the Mountaineer distance swimmer was just short of the 200 free finals in ninth place. Leonard earned district championships in the 200 free, 500 free and 400 free relay.
So. – Free
Lloyd placed second in the 200 free at districts in a time of 2:00.1. She qualified for states in the 200 free where she finished in 28th place. Lloyd also earned a fifth place medal at districts in the 100 free.
Fr. – Sprints
Roerig made a splash in her first season with a district record, three district titles, and three state medals. Her 200 medley relay tied with a record-setting swim at districts, and joined her 400 free relay as bronze medalists at states. Individually, she won the 100 free district medal (52.05) and came in eighth in the event at Bucknell.
Jr. – Diving
Her first district championship appearance upstaged the veterans with a Class 2A title. She registered a 371.9 to garner a gold medal. At states, Shaver finished in 12th place with 283.35 points.
So. – Breast/Sprints
Walting’s two state medals brings her to five in just two seasons. She earned the bronze medal in the 100 breast and anchored a 200 free relay to eighth place. Walting established a new district record with her first individual gold medal, set a new 100 breast benchmark of 1:04.05. Walting was third in a competitive 50 free race.
Coach of the Year
Mosier was selected as the Pennsylvania High School Swim Coach of the Year in leading the Mountaineers to a second-place finish in the state. She guided Dallas to its fourth straight girls district championship in upset fashion. Her Mountaineers won six district titles and six state medals.
Cate Blaum, Holy Redeemer
Emily Blaum, Holy Redeemer
Paige Jackett, Wyoming Seminary
Gabby Krochta, Dallas
Kayla Kruk, Holy Redeemer
Marina O’Hara, Hazleton Area
Emma Thomas, Dallas
Haily Yakimowicz, Holy Redeeemer
Maggie Yannes, Hazleton Area
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