Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Madelyn Kutney provided a spark for the Whitehall swim team during a recent meet. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Madelyn Kutney provided a spark for the Whitehall swim team during a recent meet. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA

Zephyr swimmers get a win

Thursday, January 16, 2020 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

The Whitehall swim team’s depth rose to the surface once again, proving to be the difference in their sweep of East Stroudsburg South last Thursday.

While ESS had some strong individual performances, the Zephyrs depth was too much to overcome for the Cavaliers, with the girls winning 112-55, and the boys prevailing 99-71.

Whitehall’s ability to counteract 11 first-place finishes by the Cavaliers showcased just how valuable that depth is, allowing them to secure points by finishing second and third in a majority of those races. That held true is the races they won as well.

Riding the strength of those numbers has raised the girls season record to 5-3, while the boys are now 4-3-1.

Head coach Pete Rile said that not only did their depth play a big part in getting the win, they also posted some excellent times in the meet to ensure the victory. He said that at times he had to check the times and the lineup to make sure of the accuracy of what he was witnessing. It was just an outstanding performance from top to bottom.

“They really swam well,” he said.

He knew the girls would definitely benefit from the depth, making it a hard climb for the Cavaliers. The boys were in a tougher fight, but they proved just as resilient, nailing down the win with a 1-2 finish in the 400 freestyle relay.

“Both the boys and the girls today, they earned this,” said Rile.

He said they weren’t about to overlook the Cavaliers who have some pretty dynamic swimmers. The Cavaliers gave them a battle as noted by Gabby Saffer’s blistering time in the 100 breaststroke, finishing in 1:13.64.

“They swam pretty good, we swam really good,” Rile said.

He said that his swimmers were going after their top-flight swimmers, with the mindset that they can be just as competitive.

“I give them all the credit in the world,” he said.

Rile said that the win gives them a little spark, coming during the middle of the season when they’ve been swimming for a while with a bunch of meets in a short amount of time. He said the win also provides incentive for his swimmers to keep lowering their times so that can qualify for districts.

One of the swimmers who provided a spark was senior Madelyn Kutney. She was part of two winning relays, leading off the 200 Individual Medley relay that kicked off the meet, and then as the anchor in the 400 freestyle relay that won in 4:22.83.

Kutney, who has qualified for districts in the backstroke, also swims the 200 freestyle for the Zephs, something she didn’t compete in during Thursday’s meet. In addition to those individual events, she swims the backstroke in the IM relay, and the aforementioned anchor in the 400 free relay. The latter is a spot that can be pressure filled at times since victory often sits squarely on that swimmer’s shoulders.

“It’s a little nerve-racking at times, especially when it’s close, but I like it there,” said Kutney.

Kutney is also hopeful to qualify for the district tourney in the 200 freestyle, noting she’s only two seconds away. She believes her strength lies in both the 100 backstroke and the 200 freestyle, and is aiming to compete in both events at districts.

In Thursday’s meet against ESS, Kutney had the lead at the turn heading into the final lap of the 100 backstroke. However, Marianne Tassinari overtook her down the straightaway as Kutney finished second in 1:07.22.

“I definitely have to work on my finish,” said Kutney. “My coach always tells me that I have to finish strong. That’s one of my weaknesses, but hopefully I can keep working on it at practice and keep getting better at it.”

Kutney’s been swimming since she was in kindergarten, hitting the pool as a member of The Waves. It’s something she continues to do during the summer. It’s become a part of her life.

“I’ve always been in the water,” Kutney said.

Her love of water has influenced the next four years of her life. She said she committed to Kean University in New Jersey where she’ll swim for the Cougars.

The girls also claimed first 50 freestyle as Megan Wallitsch won in 31.64. Rachel Dolan was tops in the 100 butterfly, touching in 1:12.90.

For the boys, Connor Barnes was victorious in two individual events, winning the 200 freestyle in 2:12.11, and the 500 freestyle in 5:59.13.

Nik Martinovic, who has qualified for districts in the 100 backstroke, finished second in that race on Thursday, touching the wall in 1:00.67. He was also second in the 100 freestyle with a 54.30 mark.

Justin Lesperance was another first-place finisher for the boys, winning the 50 freestyle in 25.07.