Palmyra s Katie Schreckengast powers through the water on her way to winning the 200-yard freestyle during Tuesday s dual meet at Milton Hershey.
Palmyra s Katie Schreckengast powers through the water on her way to winning the 200-yard freestyle during Tuesday s dual meet at Milton Hershey. Schreckengast s victory helped the Cougars complete a second straight unbeaten season in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division by defeating Milton Hershey, 133-46. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS JEREMY LONG)
HERSHEY - As a historically bad flu season continues to impact the area, one segment of the local population remains blissfully unaffected.

At least in the figurative sense, members of the Palmyra Area High School swimming program have rarely felt better.

The Cougars continued to look the picture of health on Tuesday afternoon, wrapping up a highly-successful romp through the Mid-Penn Keystone Division with a pair of dominating triumphs over host Milton Hershey at the Spartan Center.

Behind a pair of individual wins from Peyten Lyons, Katie Schreckengast and Reney Hess, the Palmyra girls sewed up a second straight unbeaten, title-winning season in the Keystone with a lopsided 133-46 victory.

Meanwhile, the Cougar boys rode double wins from Bryce Betz and Danny Tunitis to an equally-impressive 133-50 win to cap their most successful division run in recent memory and finish a strong second to unbeaten champ Lower Dauphin.

With three non-league contests remaining before the "big meets" - the Mid-Penn, District Three and, perhaps, PIAA State Championships - arrive, the Palmyra girls boast an unblemished 10-0 overall record and a 7-0 Keystone mark, while the boys stand at 8-2 after finishing at 6-1 in the division.

Suffice it to say, this is a happy - and healthy - time to be a swimmer at Palmyra.

"This is what happens when you work hard during the season, I think," said Palmyra coach Cynthia Lyons. "We've really had a nice showing for the girls and the boys all season long - obviously a better record for our boys this year than we've had in the last couple years.

"You can win or lose any meet - I know that's sort of cliché, but you really can - but the kids have been swimming really well. It's really hard to tell at the beginning of the season (how good a team can be), but the kids have really performed well. Now it'll be interesting to see what happens in the postseason."

Particularly for Palmyra's young, deep and talent-laden girls' squad, which continued to impress on Tuesday. On the way to securing another smudge-free Keystone crown, the Cougars sent six different individual performers to the winner's circle.

Joining Lyons (50, 100 freestyle), Schreckengast (200 free, 100 backstroke) and Hess (200 IM, 100 butterfly) as event winners were Emily Bliemeister (500 free), Marybeth Rudy (100 breast stroke) and Brianna Ulrich (diving).

In addition, Palmyra captured two of the three relays, getting a 200 medley relay win from Lyons, Rudy, Breanna Purnell and Bliemeister, and a 400 free relay victory from Schreckengast, Hess, Purnell and Lyons.

Palmyra s Bryce Betz comes up for air on the way to victory in the 200-yard IM on Tuesday. The Cougars defeated Milton Hershey 133-50 to wrap up second
Palmyra s Bryce Betz comes up for air on the way to victory in the 200-yard IM on Tuesday. The Cougars defeated Milton Hershey 133-50 to wrap up second place in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division and improve to 8-2 for the season. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS JEREMY LONG)

"Starting out the season, that was something that they were looking forward to," coach Lyons said of the girls' team's desire to repeat as unbeaten Keystone champs. "And again, when you work hard in the pool, you get good results. And they've worked really, really hard.

"This is obviously their goal. Their goal was to win the division and their goal was to go undefeated, so it's nice to meet those goals at the end of the (division) season."

Not only did both teams give themselves a rewarding 2012-13 season to enjoy via their hard work, they also potentially laid the foundation for continued and enhanced success in the future.

Quality seniors Purnell, Rudy, Betz, Evan Downey, Eddie Sanborn and Brandon Barr will leave a void when they graduate, but an influx of newcomers in the next few years should mesh nicely with the wealth of talent already on hand.

At least that's the way Lyons hopes it will all turn out.

"It is nice to think what could happen," Lyons said. "But we can only be the best coaches we can be. They're the ones doing the hard work in the water. And if they're doing the hard work in the water, win or lose, those times are gonna look pretty good."

Speaking of good-looking times, the numbers Lyons and her staff - assistants Don Papson and Joe Donato - see when they look at their watches and/or scoreboard timers are currently pretty scary. In a good way.

There's no guarantees that Palmyra will load up on hardware when the postseason finally does arrive, but there's also no guarantee they won't.

"Some of their times right now, it's almost a little scary," Lyons said. "We're ahead of the game, ahead of where we were this time last year. I hate to keep talking about the postseason, but we hope they taper well. We'll see what happens."

In addition to Betz (200 IM, 100 back) and Tunitis (50 free, 100 fly), also victorious for the boys' team on Tuesday were Downey (200 free), Joshua Wakefield (100 free), Eddie Sanborn (500 free), Josh Alderson (100 breast) and Jonas Ricci, who posted a dominating score of 270.80 to win the diving.

The Cougar boys also swept the relays. Barr, Alderson, Scott Seibel and Daniel Jerrahian took the 200 medley relay, Tunitis, Wakefield, Barr and Teague Culver teamed up to snag the 200 free relay, and Betz, Tunitis, Mike Garman and Sanborn were the winning 400 relay quartet.