With just 100 yards left in the entire meet, Hershey High School trailed North Allegheny by 1.5 points and .07 seconds, but freshman Allie Raab’‘s final-leg heroics stole a narrow 3A team title for Hershey.
The PIAA meet is run on two separate days, with half the events swum prelims-finals on Friday, and the other half prelims-finals on Saturday.
With just the 400 free relay to go, North Allegheny led Hershey by a point and a half in the race for the team title. Having won the 200 medley relay to open the meet, North Allegheny looked in line to take the final relay as well, leading by a tenth as the anchors entered the water.
But Hershey freshman Allie Raab came up huge, splitting 49.39 to run down North Allegheny and steal both the event win and the team title.
The battle between the two teams was outstanding all meet long. North Allegheny kicked things off with a 200 medley relay win, going 1:42.92 to open day 1. That included the state’s best backstroke split, a 25.08 from Jacquelyn Du, and also featured Erin Kuhn, Kayla Churman and Katie Wright.
But Hershey struck back in the next two individual races. First, Raab won the 200 free in a blistering 1:48.00, carrying on the legacy of her older sister Meaghan, the state record-holder in the event.
Then senior Vivi Tafuto went 2:01.09 to pace the 200 IM for Hershey.
North Allegheny’s Du won the 100 back on day 2, going 53.29 and putting her team well out front Hershey, which had no point-scorers in the event. That time for Du, a senior, came just two tenths off of Meaghan Raab’s state record in the event.
But then Tafuto and Raab returned, this time in the same event, to start Hershey’s furious comeback. Tafuto won the 100 breast in 1:00.74, two tenths off the state record, and Raab finished second in 1:00.84, drawing huge points for Hershey and bringing the meet to within a half-point.
That led to the 400 free relay. Tafuto, coming right off the breaststroke, led off in 50.82, holding just behind North Allegheny’s Morgan Soulia (50.65). Lauren McGrath extended the North Allegheny lead over Hershey’s Kaley Buchanan in the second leg, but senior Maggie Lee brought Hershey back to within a tenth swimming third against Churman.
Finally, Raab dropped her 49.39 split, overtaking Du, who split a quick 49.91 herself. Hershey won the relay in 3:22.82 with North Allegheny going 3:23.27.
Outside of that outstanding team battle, Parkland’s Siena Salvaggio had herself an outstanding meet, joining Tafuto as the only swimmer to win two individual races. Salvaggio took the 50 free (23.10) and 100 free (49.61).
Other event winners:
- Haverford junior Maddie Hart took the 100 fly in a tight race, coming from behind on Penn Ridge’s Brittany Weiss to win 54.14 to 54.45.
- Norwin senior Kathryn Painter ran away with the 500 free, going 4:50.49.
- North Penn won the 200 free relay to close night 1, with the team of Kailyn Evans, Aimee Baur, Leah Brown and Olivia Distefano going 1:34.40 to beat Hershey. They took third overall as a team.
- Chartiers Valley’s Maria Lohman won the diving event, scoring 508.35 points.
Top 5 Teams
- Hershey – 262
- North Allegheny – 257.5
- North Penn – 168
- Penn Ridge – 156
- Parkland – 156