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Tyrone swimmers ready for District swim meet Saturday

This afternoon the District VI-IX Class AA swimming and diving teams will assemble at the State College High School to show off their talents and compete for individual and relay gold and a berth at the State meet at the Penn State Natatorium on Saturday, March 15.
The Tyrone girls team, under coach Rich Bishop has been one of the favorites for some time, but is rebuilding this year. The Golden Eagle women are expected to be chasing pre-district favorites Westmont-Hilltop and Bradford from District IX.
Junior Jeri Harper and sophomore Katie Frye have been the most frequent individual winners for the Lady Eagles who suffered an off year with a 4-8 mark. Unlike many sports where open tournaments are held in which all teams can enter full lineups, in swimming only those who have bettered a certain mark set by district officials are eligible to perform at districts.
Jeri Harper has qualified for the 100 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke, along with three relays, the 200 Medley Relay, the 200 Freestyle Relay and the 400 Freestyle Relay. Katie Frye will swim the 100 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke, as well as the 200 Medley, 200 free and 400 free relays. Senior Emily Albright will swim in the 200 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke, as well as the 200 medley and 200 and 400 free relays. Freshman Zoe Yeaton qualified for the 50 freestyle and 100 Butterfly and the 200 medley, 200 and 400 free relays.
Without attempting to confuse anyone, it is possible to qualify more than four relay swimmers for a race, although only four will participate in the actual race at Districts. With that in mind, freshman Leah Cherry and seniors Beth Nelson and Leah Otto qualified in the 400 freestyle relay, and senior Angel Diehl qualified in the 50 Free Individual and as a member of all three relays.
While the Tyrone girls have had one of the strongest programs in the area during Bishop’s tenure, this season the boys team came into their own with a 10-2 record, the best in coach Bishop’s time at Tyrone after never finishing better than 5-6, bolstered by the performances of underclassmen Eric Nulton and Evan Stover plus more depth and balance than the Eagle men’s team has shown. The Eagles only losses were to Triple-A powers Altoona and Hollidaysburg.
Nulton, a sophomore, qualified for the 200 IM and 100 Butterfly, and Stover, a junior, will swim in the 50 freestyle and 100 free. Senior David Collins qualified for the 100 Butterfly and 100 breaststroke, junior Teddy Feller the 100 free and 100 back, senior Brian McMonigal the 50 free and 100 back and sophomore Brian Pearson the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Freshman Matt Elder qualified for the 500 freestyle, senior Vinnie Fontana the 50 free, senior Trevor Harbst the 100 breaststroke and senior Adam Smith the 50 free and freshman Zac Yeaton the 100 breaststroke.
Nulton, Stover, McManigal, Pearson, Smith and Collins also qualified for all three relay races and Feller qualified for the 400 Freestyle relay, Fontana the 200 Medley relay and 200 Free relay, Yeaton the 200 Free relay, Feller the 400 Free and Harbst both the 200 Medley and 400 freestyle relays.
Eric Nulton has broken his own team record in the 100 butterfly on two different occasions this season after placing third at states as a freshman.
“Nulton and Stover are our two strongest swimmers,” said Coach Bishop. “I look for Nulton to be among the top finishers in the 100 Butterfly and for Stover to be in the top two in his events. I look for us to place high in the relays, possibly in the top three.”
District IX powers Clearfield and Bradford are expected to battle it out for the boys title.
Bishop is retiring as head coach after 21 seasons at the helm of the Tyrone swimming programs. He is not counting on getting completely out of the Eagle swimming program however.
When asked about his final district match, Bishop, who has compiled a 98-54-1 mark with the girls team, replied, “I have never looked at this as being ‘it’. I may go away as head coach, but I will still be involved in Tyrone swimming, will still do some consulting and be around to make sure things in the program continue to go all right. It’s kind of ironic that the boys are having their best year in my final season. I just hope the program continues to prosper.”