West York's Courtney Harnish has been named the top swimming recruit in the nation by an online site. The 17-year-old explains what she's looking for in a college. Jim Seip, GameTimePA
LEWISBURG – Even though it was a day late and a different format, the legend of Courtney Harnish kept on growing at Thursday’s first day of the PIAA Class 2A swimming championships.
Already a two-time state record holder, the West York senior hit the water at Bucknell University with a vengeance during her 200-yard freestyle swim.
By the midway point, she already had a body-length lead. By the end of the race, which she won by nearly six seconds, Harnish broke her own record with her gold-medal winning time of 1:44.73.
“I think honestly it means more to me to break my own (record), just because on top of breaking a record, you break a personal best,” she said after finishing more than a second faster than the mark she set as a freshman.
Harnish, who is the top seed in Friday’s 100 backstroke, said she felt pressure returning to the PIAA meet for the first time since her freshman year, but not as much about breaking records.
“There was definitely pressure, but I think it was more coming from myself wanting to go under personal bests,” she said. “I haven’t dropped in this event since freshman year. That was my best time and I haven’t dropped since.”
“You watch her and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh,” said Bulldogs teammate Meghan French, who placed ninth in the same event. “There’s almost no words for it.”
"I am not surprised. I am pretty sure that is what she was trying for," West York coach Nicole Flowers said.
Easter York junior Madison Nalls placed second, dropping more than a second from her seed time to swim a 1:50.55.
“I look at her as probably the best, but she’s definitely helped me,” Nalls said of Harnish.
One thing that didn’t seem to bother most of the YAIAA competitors at the championships the adjusted schedule and format. The championships were pushed back a day, and each event was held as timed finals, because of winter storm Stella.
“At first I was a little bit upset and I started stressing out a little bit," Harnish said. "I was so used to having two chances, two swims, so I had to get myself in that mentality of, 'I am only swimming once.'
"When I came in for our practice today I kind of set myself like it was prelims and I am coming back for finals.”
Harnish started the day teaming with Claudia Keller, Tesia Thomas and Maddi Stoner for 10th in the 200 medley relay.
"We started the meet not doing what we wanted to, but Courtney and Meghan erased that memory," Flowers said.
The York Suburban boys team had a solid first day as well, starting with their 200 medley relay that took a seventh-place medal. The team of Karl Schmittle, Matt Peters, Aidan Fryar and Charles Rogers swam a 1:33.59.
Fryar duplicated that feat in the 50 free, when his 21.36 also was seventh. Schmittle placed 20th in the 100 butterfly.
“You can’t not be happy,” Fryar said of his swim. “I was hoping to go faster, but you always want to go faster. I was hoping for a sub-21 (seconds), so I wasn’t that far off.”
Gettysburg’s Jared Herr earned an eighth-place medal in the 200 free. Warriors teammate Nico DeAngelo II was 21st in the 100 fly.
York Catholic freshman Miles Cox finished a respectable 11th in his first PIAA 100 butterfly swim.
Susquehannock teammates Logan McFadden and Justin Reed competed. McFadden was 12th in the 200 IM and Reed 19th in the fly.
Other YAIAA girls finishes: York Suburban was 16th in the medley and 14th in the 200 free relay. Dover was 20th in the 200 free relay. Megan Hunt of Suburban and Dover’s Lindsay Brenneman were 12th and 15th, respectively, in 200 free. Keller was 19th in the 200 IM. Grace Beierschmitt of Dover took 17th in the 50 free, the same event Thomas came in 24th.