CONCORD -- Unionville High School's first year swim coach Billy Gordon, who was a standout swimmer at Owen J. Roberts and East Carolina University, had his baptism by fire as an area coach earlier in the week when his teams started the year with a co-ed meet at Malvern Prep.
Unionville's boys faced host Malvern Prep, a veteran team that last year had an undefeated Inter-Ac season and placed second to nationally-ranked Peddie School at the 113th Eastern Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships. The Indians' girls' team swam against Villa Maria Academy, the three-time defending PIAA Class AA champion.
Unionville lost both those meets. But on Friday afternoon they bounced back in a big way with victories over host Garnet Valley in a nonleague meet at the Jaguars' pool at Garnet Valley Middle School. In the boys' meet, the Indians prevailed 106-80. Unionville's girls outscored their hosts 112-71.
The Indian girls waited until the final event of their meet to produce the most exciting finish. Garnet Valley had its strongest swimmers in the first two legs of the 400-meter freestyle relay. As a result, the Jags had a three-body length lead when the race reached its midway point.
In the third leg, Unionville's Megan Drohan swam a strong 100 meters and narrowed Garnet Valley's lead to just a few meters at the touch. Then, Unionville anchor Molly Wentz got off to a powerful start and soon took over the lead.
Wentz stayed strong for the entire 100 meters and touched first. The Indian foursome of Lauren Adams, Katie Garvey, Drohan and Wentz pooled their talents to record the fastest time in the race at 4:25.06.
"I thought we were trailing by a pretty big gap there,' said Wentz, a junior who was also runner-up in the 50 freestyle and the 100 free. "I was a little relaxed after I saw how well Megan was catching up.
"I just knew that I had to try my best. Having the Garnet Valley girl (Jaguars' anchor Jenna Buttermore) right with me at the beginning made me want to go faster.'
Wentz also teamed with Jessica Homitz, Quinn Benintende and Garvey on the UHS 200 free relay that placed first with a clocking of 1:58.75. The Indians also won the 200 medley relay at 2:16.98 with the team of Kiera Callahan, Jamie Matey, Benintende and Adams.
The Indians' top individuals were Megan Musser, who was first in the 200 IM at 2:44.19 and the 100 butterfly at 1:41.35; Drohan, who was first in the 200 free at 2:14.87 and the 400 free at 4:48.84; and Callahan, who touched first in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:14.20.
"Fly was my better race today,' said Musser, a senior. "I tried to keep my stroke nice and long and I got my best time of the season. In the IM, all my strokes felt good -- especially the fly. I also had a 35 back split in the medley relay.'
Drohan, an Indian sophomore, said, "I liked the 200 today. The cheering from my team was awesome. I went out fast and then held it. In the 400, I think I had even splits. That's what I was looking for. I like to control my pace.'
Callahan, another sophomore, said, "I was happy with my 100 back today. It's a little different swimming in a meter pool instead of a yard pool but I practiced it during the warmups. I also had a good backstroke split in the medley relay.'
Unionville's boys were paced by a trio of veterans who were on both winning 200 meter relays and also logged individual wins -- along with Andrew Woerth, who was an individual double-winner with victories in the 50 free at 25.37 and the 100 fly at 1:01.48
Ben Halkowski, Tommy Ferree and Jason Smiddy joined with Kyle Garvey on the first-place 200 medley relay (2:01.85) and the fastest 200 free relay (1:45.33).
Individually, Halkowski touched first in the 200 IM at 2:39.11; Smiddy was the fastest in the 100 free at 58.89 and the 200 free at 2:11.18; and Ferree picked up a win in the 100 breast with a time of 1:20.87.
"The 100 free was a good race for me,' said Smiddy, a senior. "The time was decent. I went out pretty fast so the last 25 (meters) was tough. My 200 free time was a little slower than what I wanted. I did fly in the medley relay and my stroke felt good.'
Halkowski, another Unionville senior, said, "I was happiest with the 200 free relay today. My split was really fast. My 100 back was good but my back split in the medley relay wasn't. I had the lead so I wasn't pushing it.'
Garnet Valley 80 (BOYS)
200-meter medley relay --Unionville (Halkowski, Ferree, Smiddy, Garvey) 2:01.85; 200 freestyle —Smiddy (U) 2:11.18; 200 IM — Haklkowski (U) 2:39.11; 50 freestyle — Woerth (U) 25.37; diving — Tamargo (U) 190.45; 100 butterfly — Woerth (U) 1:01.48; 100 freestyle — Smiddy (U) 58.59; 400 freestyle -- Sacht (G) 4:51.95; 200 freestyle relay -- Unionville (Ferree, Halkowski, Smiddy, Garvey) 1:45.33; 100 backstroke — halkowski (U) 1;11.73; 100 breaststroke — Ferree (U) 1:20.87; 400 freestyle relay -- Garnet Valley (Sachtt, McGrogan, Woerth, Rose) 4:13.96.
Garnet Valley 71 (GIRLS)
200-meter medley relay -- Unionville (Callahan, Matey, Benintende, Adams) 2:16.98; 200 freestyle — Drohan (U) 2:14.87; 200 IM — Musser (U) 2:44.19; 50 freestyle — Berardi (G) 29.04.82; diving — Kovatch (G) 200.05; 100 butterfly — Musser (U) 1:14.35; 100 freestyle — Minford (G) 1:03.66; 400 freestyle -- Drohan (U) 4:44.84; 200 freestyle relay -- Unionville (Homitz, Wentz, Benintende, Garvey) 1:58.75; 100 backstroke — Callahan (U) 1:14.20; 100 breaststroke — Buttermore (G) 1:24.37; 400 freestyle relay -- Unionville (Adams, Garvey, Drohan, Wentz) 4:25.06.