Cathedral Prep’s Neff, Villa Maria’s Macholic lead D-10 swimmers
Erie Times-News Preseason District 10 Male Swimmer/Diver of the Year
Ethan Neff, Cathedral Prep
The Cathedral Prep Ramblers were last season's PIAA Class 2A team champions.
Ethan Neff led them to that historic accomplishment by maxing out the available number of individual medals.
Neff was scheduled to start his final year as a Rambler when they competed at McDowell on Thursday.
They were to be the senior's initial varsity laps since he stood on the state's podium multiple times this past March at Bucknell University.
Along with doing that when Prep was handed the PIAA's small-school team trophy, Neff also received two gold medals atop it.
He swam the opening leg of the Ramblers' 200-yard medley relay that won the state's championship race in 1 minute, 34.42 seconds, and posted the low individual time of 51.02 in its 100 backstroke final.
Neff also received the seventh-place medal for the PIAA's 2A 100 butterfly final (52.64) and started the anchor leg for Prep's fifth-place effort in the 400 free relay final (3:15.89).
Erie Times-News Preseason District 10 Female Swimmer/Diver of the Year
Megan Maholic, Villa Maria
Megan Maholic was a four-time PIAA medalist who also helped the Villa Maria Victors win last season's Class 2A team championship.
Even better, she still has three more seasons to achieve such accomplishments.
Maholic was a freshman for the 2018-19 Victors, who compiled 178 first-place points in the state's small-school standings of its meet at Lewisburg's Bucknell University.
That total included the 40 Villa received for winning meet's 200-yard medley relay final. Maholic swam the third leg of its gold medal foursome, which combined for a low time of 1 minute, 44.31 seconds.
Maholic also led off the Victors' sixth-place quartet in the 400 freestyle relay final (3:35.64). Her individual medals were from the 100 backstroke (second at 54.98) and 100 butterfly (fifth at 57.77).
Maholic was scheduled to start her sophomore season on Thursday, when Villa visited the rival McDowell Trojans.
– Mike Copper
The dates of March 13-14, 2019, were unlike any others in the history of Erie County varsity aquatics.
Within those 48 hours, Villa Maria and Cathedral Prep swept the Class 2A team titles for last season's PIAA swimming and diving meet.
The coaches and students for each program took traditional jumps into Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium pool moments after they were presented their championship trophies.
Each program also celebrated as teammates received numerous top-eight individual or relay medals before they rejoiced en masse.
The highlight for each was watching their 200-yard medley relays sweep the championship races for that discipline.
Villa's win also was the first in a 2A girls meet that saw District 10 sweep its three relay finals.
After the Victors came in first in the 200 medley relay, Fairview’s girls did the same in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
The district also swept the PIAA 2A’s 200 free relay when Prep won the boys final. Gavin Ferry and Mike Rahner, who comprised the second half of that winning quartet, are back for the Ramblers.
Not done there, the district boasted individual gold medalists in Prep's Ethan Neff, who won the 2A boys 100 backstroke, and Grove City’s Emma Wilson, a University of Pittsburgh recruit who repeated as the state's best 2A 50 free sprinter.
None of that is to say those traditional district powers, or any of its other schools, won't try to equal or surpass what happened in Lewisburg this past March.
Their quest to compete there next spring began this week.
Class 2A boys
Neff is the most notable district returnee for any of last season's PIAA gold medalists.
Along with his 100 back title, the senior also swam that opening leg for Prep's victorious 200 medley.
If the Ramblers repeat in that second event, Neff will do so with new teammates. John Paul Stark, Robbie Maholic and anchor Grant Brown each graduated this past spring.
Titusville's Zach Titus was the silver medalist to Neff in the 2A boys 100 back final. The senior also returns for the Rockets, the district's defending Region 1 champs, as does senior Teddy Murphey for reigning Region 2 winner Fairview.
Murphey, who shared 2018-19 Region 2 Swimmer of the Year honors with General McLane graduate Luke Edmonds, medaled in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke this past spring.
Hickory diver Gio Masters is the district's other notable 2A returnee. The senior, who's dominated the past two D-10 diving competitions, seeks his third state medal.
The first of those two for Masters was a bronze from the 2018 PIAA meet.
Class 2A girls
Unlike Prep's 200 medley relay, Villa and Fairview return most of their starters from last season's state title quartet.
Only anchor Sydney Sherman is gone from Villa. The Duquesne University recruit anchored Bella Agresti, Jasmine Chen and Megan Maholic, who are back for the Victors.
Maholic capped her freshman season with three other PIAA medals. One was a silver for her second-place effort in the 100 backstroke final.
Agresti is a senior for the Victors, while Chen is a junior.
Fairview's Ellie Kraus anchored each of the team's relay championships. Kraus is a junior for the 2019-20 Tigers, as is classmate Halle Myers. Senior Grace Buege also returns.
Myers led off Fairview's victorious 200 and 400 free relays.
Mercyhurst Prep welcomes back Mary Claire Stark for her final season with the Lakers. The senior was scheduled to miss the team’s season opener on Thursday because she was working out with USA Swimming’s junior national team in Atlanta.
While Grove City graduated Wilson, senior Aleana Smiley and sophomore Zoey Beck are back for the Eagles. They were top-eight medalists in last season's 200 medley and 200 free relays finals at Lewisburg.
Harbor Creek's Reagan Rand was the district's 2A diving champ as a freshman. She qualified for states, where she received an eighth-place medal in the small-school competition.
The district's large-school teams seek to send swimmers and divers back onto the PIAA's podium after they were denied a medal last spring.
McDowell retains the best odds to accomplish that. The Trojans welcome back eight males or females who were district champions for 2018-19.
Juniors Jordan Nuzback (four state events) and Lexi Pierce (three) are prominent girls back for McDowell, and junior Aidan Fickenworth is a top swimmer back for the boys.
Meadville's Josh Merchbaker is the district's most notable 3A swimmer who won't turn laps for the Trojans.
Merchbaker, a junior, reached states in four events.
Mike Copper can be reached at 870-1614 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNcopper.
RETURNING 2018-19 PIAA MEDALISTS
Class 2A girls
Bella Agresti, sr., Villa Maria (first in 200-yard medley relay; seventh in 100 back)
Jasmine Chen, jr., Villa Maria (first in 200 medley relay; third in 200 free relay)
Megan Maholic, so., Villa Maria (first in 200 medley relay; second in 100 back; fifth in 100 fly; sixth in 400 free relay)
Olivia Mottillo, jr., Villa Maria (third in 200 free relay)
Gracie Girts, so., Vila Maria (sixth in 400 free relay)
Reagan Rand, so., Harbor Creek (eighth in diving)
Ellie Kraus, jr., Fairview (first in 200 and 400 free relays; seventh in 200 free; eighth in 100 free)
Halle Myers, jr., Fairview (first in 200 and 400 free relays)
Grace Buege, sr., Fairview (first in 200 free relay)
Mary Claire Stark, sr., Mercyhurst Prep (sixth in 200 IM)
Aleana Smiley, sr., Grove City (fourth in 200 free relay; sixth in 200 medley relay)
Zoey Beck, so., Grove City (fourth in 200 free relay; sixth in 200 medley relay)
Class 2A boys
Ethan Neff, sr., Cathedral Prep (first in 200-yard medley relay and 100 back; fifth in 400 free relay; seventh in 100 fly)
Mike Rahner, sr., Cathedral Prep (first in 200 free relay; fifth in 50 free; sixth in 100 free)
Gavin Ferry, sr., Cathedral Prep (first in 200 free relay; fifth in 400 free relay)
Jack Kloecker, sr., Cathedral Prep (fifth in 400 free relay)
Teddy Murphey, sr., Fairview (fifth in 100 breast; sixth in 200 IM)
Zach Titus, sr., Titusville (second in 100 back)
Gio Masters, sr., Hickory (fifth in diving)
Note: District 10 had no Class 3A PIAA medalists. Returnees based on submitted or confirmed information.
RETURNING 2018-19 PIAA QUALIFIERS
Class 2A girls
Audra Carnes, sr., Fairview (200-yard medley relay)
Annamarie Habusta, sr., Fairview (200 medley relay)
Morgan Ingalls, so., Harbor Creek (200 medley relay)
Madeline Curtis, sr., Harbor Creek (200 medley relay)
Erin Ingalls, sr., Harbor Creek (200 medley relay)
Molly Nielsen, sr., Harbor Creek (200 medley relay)
Carleigh Koerner, jr., Franklin (50 free and 200 free relay)
Bella Taraski, so., Villa Maria (diving)
Class 2A boys
David Hauptman, so. Titusville (200-yard medley and free relays)
Seth Brooks, jr., Titusville (200 medley relay)
Frank Barger, jr., Titusville (200 medley and free relays)
Trey Kirvan, jr., Titsuville (200 free relay)
Frank Barger, jr., Titusville (50 free)
C.J. Girts, sr., Cathedral Prep (200 and 500 free)
Jacob Clark, sr., Cathedral Prep (100 back)
Andrew Campbell, sr., Cathedral Prep (100 breast)
Nolan Songer, sr., Sharon (200 IM)
Cole Docter, sr., Franklin (200 and 400 free relays)
Miles Hoffman, jr., Franklin (400 free relay)
Laban Ehrhart, sr., Corry (200 and 400 free relays)
Ben Goode, sr., Corry (200 and 400 free relays)
Nick Richar, jr, Oil City (200 and 400 free relay)
Tom Schneider, sr., Oil City (200 and 400 free relays and 500 free)
Zach Malek, jr., Oil City (200 and 400 free relays)
Sam Zablonty, jr., Fairview (400 free relay)
Ethan Weber, sr., Fairview (400 free relay)
Jesse Verner, sr., Fairview (diving)
Ryan Hess, sr., General McLane (diving)
Class 3A girls
Jordan Nuzback, jr., McDowell (200-yard medley and 200 and 400 free relays; 100 fly)
Lexi Pierce, jr., McDowell (200 medley and free relays; 200 IM; 100 breast)
Uriahe DeVore, sr., McDowell (200 and 400 free relays)
Kalli Knott, jr., McDowell (diving)
Jazmyn Myers, so., McDowell (100 free)
Olivia Philbrick, jr., Meadville (100 back)
Class 3A boys
Josh Merchbaker, jr., Meadville (200-yard medley and 400 free relays; 200 IM; 100 back)
Gabe Cummings, so., Meadville (400 free relay)
Aidan Fickenworth, jr., McDowell (50 and 100 free; 200 free relay)
Timothy Simon, jr., McDowell (200 free relay)
Erich Fuhrman, jr., McDowell (500 free)
Note: Returning qualifiers based on submitted or confirmed information.
DISTRICT 10 DATES TO REMEMBER
Saturday: Prep & Villa Invitational at Hallman Aquatics Center
21: Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria at Cleveland State Viking Invitational
11: North East Girls Invitational
16: McDowell at Cathedral Prep
18: Iroquois Boys Invitational
8: McDowell at Fairview
14-15: McDowell Ultimate Qualifier
21-22: District 10 diving meet at McDowell
28-29: District 10 swimming meet at S.P.I.R.E. Institute, Geneva, Ohio
11-14: PIAA swimming and diving meet at Bucknell University, Lewisburg