LEWISBURG >> Judging by appearances, it would seem that York Suburban's Carson Gross didn't have her best performance during the Wednesday morning preliminaries at the PIAA Class AA swimming championships.
But in actuality, it was part of plan for the junior in her third trip to the state meet at Bucknell University.
Seeded No. 1 in the 200-yard freestyle entering the day, Gross swam a 1 minute, 54.39 seconds in the morning, nearly four seconds slower than her entry time.
However, she qualified for the evening's finals and that was all Gross needed. Pottsgrove's Emily Glinecke took the lead late, but Gross regained the lead and won the gold medal with a time of 1:51.71.
"This morning I was fine with my time. Obviously it was four seconds off my time from districts, but that was my strategy," she said. "I planned on not going off too fast so that I had energy for tonight."
While it was part of her master scheme, Gross was still surprised at the outcome.
"I was so shocked. There were no other thoughts in my mind," she said of her reaction when she saw the scoreboard. "My mouth was wide open. (My teammates) were making fun of me because of my face."
Gross didn't mind competing in Lane 7, as opposed to the middle two spots.
"I like being on the outside. I know a lot of people like being on the inside. I feel like there's not as much pressure, yet you can still do great things," she said.
Of course, that wasn't the only visit to the medal stand for Gross. She swam the backstroke on the Trojans' 200 medley relay team that earned a sixth-place medal, when she combined with Megan Hunt, Jenna Hufnagle and Madie Devaney for a time of 1:51.58.
Later, Devaney would swim on Suburban's 200 free relay, teaming with Anna Schmittle, Cara Zortman and Keelie Walker for sixth place in 1:41.78.
With two medals to take home, Devaney, who also placed 14th in the 50 free (25.48), was pleased with how her team overcame a sluggish start.
"I am really happy," she said. "Coming into today we didn't know what was going to happen. This morning we were tired, but there's no excuses. We swam well enough to get up here so it doesn't matter what happened this morning. It happened tonight and that's all that matters."
Schmittle joined Devaney in the consolation finals of the 50 free and placed 16th with a time of 25.58.
Suburban's Hunt placed 29th overall with her preliminary time of 2:01.14 in the 200 free as York Suburban finished the first day of competition third in the team standings with 76 points.
Also scoring a medal during the girls' meet was Eastern York freshman Madison Nalls, who placed sixth in the 200 free (1:54.29). She admitted having no idea what to expect in her first PIAA meet, but said she was caught up in the energy.
"I had visions of going to states but not doing as well, though," Nalls said with a smile. "A lot of fast girls. It was a little different, I just took it as is. It's exciting."
OTHER LOCAL FINISHES >> West York's 200 medley relay foursome of Claudia Keller, Taylor Hoover, Maelyn Elder and Maddi Stoner finished 18th in the state (1:56.40). All four swimmers return next season.
Hoover was also 23rd in the 200 free (1:59.75). Elder swam a pair of individual events during preliminaries, placing 23rd in the 200 IM (2:18.67) and 31st in the 100 butterfly (1:06.80).
RECORDS >>. Villa Maria Academy set a state record in the medley relay with a time of 1:45.52, topping the mark they set in 2013. In the 200 individual medley, both Lauren Barber of Wilmington Area and Allie Szekely of Gwynedd Mercy Academy swam faster than Szekley's mark from last season. However, Barber took the new honors in 1:57.76.