Harnish closes career in style at PIAA championships
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 – West York swimming coach Nicole Flowers is speechless when she thinks about how good Bulldogs' senior Courtney Harnish has been in the pool.
Harnish has been more than good swimming for West York during her freshmen and senior seasons.
“It’s been phenomenal. I don’t even know what to say,” Flowers said. “It’s hard to critique her strokes because she is so good. She is the best around. It’s more just trying to be her motivation.”
During Friday’s second day of the delayed PIAA Class 2A swimming championships, Harnish went 4-for-4 in career individual gold medal swims at the state meet when she won the 100 backstroke – by more than two seconds.
Her time of 54.03 seconds missed the PIAA record by a mere .23, although she will still graduate holding state records in the 200 and 500 freestyles, after topping her own mark in the 200 on Thursday.
Harnish was also named girls’ Swimmer of the Meet for the second time on Friday.
“I hardly ever get the opportunity to swim the 100 backstroke shaved and tapered so being able to get this opportunity I had to jump right on it,” she said. “I am extremely humbled. I am just really excited to end my career at West York in a really good way.”
Still there was one final swim in her illustrious career, as anchor of the Bulldogs’ 400 free relay. Harnish blazed a spectacular 100 free split of 49.56, which is faster than the current state record.
Having teammates by her side, while winning a fourth-place medal with Maddi Stoner, Claudia Keller and Meghan French made her final PIAA meet even more special.
“There’s six of us this time, so there I definitely had a lot more fun going in with these girls,” Harnish said. “We get so excited, and I am so excited to watch these girls always swim so fast.”
In fact, only one other name is typically mentioned with hers in the history of girls’ swimming in the YAIAA: Spring Grove grad Michele King.
Flowers agrees with the comparison.
“I actually swam against Michele King, so I have been around it in swimming and now coaching,” said Flowers. “They are both great people, as in general character. Their strokes are very different.”
French won her heat and scored an individual medal in the 500 free with her sixth-place finish. In that same event, Eastern York junior Madison Nalls won her second PIAA medal in as many days, finishing fourth.
Dover’s Lindsay Brenneman was 14th and York Catholic swimmer Claire Laux 25th in the 500. Brenneman’s Eagles’ teammate Grace Beierschmitt was 29th in the 100 free.
Jessie McMurray of York Catholic placed ninth, York Suburban senior Megan Hunt 10th and Biglerville’s Sarah Hardy 14th in the 100 breaststroke.
Using a substitute swimmer because of illness, the Trojan girls’ 400 free relay ended the meet with a solid swim and placed 20th.
Herr takes fourth
Gettysburg junior Jared Herr won his second medal in as many days, when he placed fourth in the 500 free with a time of 4:39.97.
“I am very happy with that, especially after last night. Getting on the medal stand gave me confidence,” said Herr, who won eighth-place hardware in the 200 free on Thursday.
Herr thanked his coaches for helping him improve so much through his high school years.
“Making states was a goal. I never thought I would get to this point,” he said. “It’s still kind of surreal.”
Herr went on to be a part of the Warriors' 400 free relay that ended the meet with a 13th-place finish. Another of those relay swimmers, Nico DeAngelo II, was 19th in the 100 free.
Susquehannock freshman Logan McFadden placed ninth in the 500.
Suburban had several boys competing, including Karl Schmittle, who were 18th in the 100 free, along with Aidan Fryar, who was 27th in that race. The Trojans’ 400 free relay finished 12th.
“It was a very good state meet for us. The weather was hard on everyone, but we tried not to let the weather affect us,” said Suburban coach Craig Brennan.
York Catholic freshman Miles Cox posted an 11th place time in the 100 backstroke.