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Tribe Advances Eight Swimmers to State Meet
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2018-03-07

            At the District 1 AA Championships last weekend at LaSalle, Noel Fresa had the swim meet of her career. So far. The Upper Perk sophomore took first in the 50 free, set two individual school records and advanced to the State Championships at Bucknell.

            On the boys side, Kyle Kovalenko's record setting performance in the 100 breaststroke, keyed a second place District finish by Upper Perk and propelled Kovalenko to States.

            Fresa will swim in the 50 free and 100 free at States, while Kovalenko will be in the 200 individual medley and 100 breast.

            The boys 200 medley relay, and the girls 200 and 400 free relays will also swim at Bucknell.

            While winning the 50 free, Fresa's 24.20 broke her own record by over a half-second, defeating an old nemesis, Villa Maria senior Nina Smith, by three-quarters of a second.

            "I liked beating her," Fresa said.

            Noel took second place in the 100 free (52.99), finishing under a half-second behind Kayla Lichtner of Nazareth Academy.

            While Fresa was very confident going into the 50, problems with an unstable starting block for the 100 caused her some consternation. "It freaked me out mentally."

            Kalnoski allowed Fresa to lead off the 400 free relay, and her split of 51.86 counted as a new school record in the 100 free.

            "We switched the order of the 400 free to give her that shot," the coach said.

            Fresa is confident she can drop time in her individual races because her relay splits have been faster.  "I really want to medal."

            That 400 free relay team, which also included Maddie Modugno, Bailey McCausland and Jayme Fisher, obliterated the school record while finishing third in 3:41.51

            "This was a record that has stood since 1998, and my girls broke it by two seconds," related coach Brien Kalnoski.

            The same four swimmers will be swimming the 200 free relay which finished in 1:42.23, over three seconds faster than its seed time.

            Kovalenko was second in the 100 breast. His time of 58.95 was just three-tenths of a second behind Holy Ghost Prep's Andrew Iannacone.

            "That's just crazy to me," Kovalenko said of his time.

            "I felt pretty confident because I knew coach K's training would put me at a pretty high place," said Kovalenko who, nevertheless, had to overcome a case of nerves that left his hands shaking on the block.

            Kalnoski described Kovalenko's effort as "an unbelievably good time".

            In the 200 individual medley, Kovalenko finished third in 2:03.91, which was good for a State berth. Teammate Cameron Junk touched in 2:04.11 to finish fourth and is the first alternate at States.

            On the 200 medley relay team, Kovalenko and Junk will be joined by Dan Miller and Joel Williams. At LaSalle, the Tribe finished third in 1:41.64.

            The performances paced the boys to a second place team standing behind Lower Moreland and ahead of Springfield (Montco).

            The Upper Perk team always swims well at Districts under Kalnoski's tutelage, but a chronic lack of depth has kept Upper Perk from making its mark in the team standings. This year a couple of more swimmers had a major impact.

            "It makes a huge difference that you can put three relays in that are going to score points," Kalnoski noted.

            In addition to the record performances and the State qualifiers, the Tribe had much to be proud of.

            Ten of the twelve female UP swimmers at Districts swam lifetime bests and all of the girls dropped time in all of their events.

            Fourteen boys swam individual bests, including Junk, who went under five minutes in the 500 free for the first time. The boys dropped time in 72% of their races.

            "We're a blue-collar team," Kalnoski said. "We will just outwork every other swimmer and every other team."

            The coach has calculated that the seniors who started with him four years ago have logged over one million practice yards over the course of their careers.

            Kalnoski was an assistant at Boyertown for 17 years, when the Bears won three District crowns.

            But last weekend was different.

            "As a head coach, I've probably never experienced the Districts quite like that."


 

 

 

 

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