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Several great careers closed at the PIAA swimming championships

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LEWISBURG >> Saturday's PIAA Class AAA championships came down to a final swim for Dallastown senior Noah Brockway.

One last time in the water as a high school swimmer. One last time with a special group of friends.

Tired and proud, Brockway held his emotions in check poolside at Bucknell University. His swim had already spoken for him.

Brockway hit the water on the Wildcats' 400 free relay and zipped past the final swimmer from Central Bucks East as his team won the consolation race for a ninth-place finish.

Logan Brockway, Spencer Hill and Jake Stoner helped Noah cap his career with a time of 3:11.49.

"This is one of the closest groups we've had come up here," Noah Brockway said. "Through the whole season we just kept building and building, getting closer, hanging out, getting to know each other. It's probably been my favorite year and a great way to go out with these guys."

Dallastown coach Rich Howley was not surprised that his group could have such a performance on top of the fifth-place medal the foursome won in Friday's 200 free relay

"Being with them every day, you see how hard they work, their dedication, their passion and desire," the coach said. "These kids deserve it. They understand the idea of being a part of something bigger than themselves."

Earlier, Noah Brockway placed 10th in the 100 backstroke, with a 51.24, a time indicative of how challenging the PIAA AAA competition is.

As he was getting ready to put on his Dallastown warm-up for one final time, Noah Brockway said that reality had hit him earlier in the day. He is still in the process of choosing where to swim collegiately

"Walking in today it was kind of surreal thinking this is it, the last two swims of my high school career, but I am looking forward to moving on to next year. I am upset to be leaving high school swimming," he said.

. "I felt pretty good. I was happy with the time, it was right around what I've been doing and what I did at districts. I can't go home unhappy with that. I would've loved to have a medal, but I am satisfied."

Red Lion's Dylan North ended his season with a 4:40.03 that earned him 15th place in the 500 free, a swim that came after a 4:38.77 in the morning preliminaries. He also left Lewisburg with a goal for next season.

"Make that medal final," the junior said. "It was exciting though. That was my best 500 in a while. My first time under 4:40. I have some YMCA nationals experience so I am kind of used to finals like that, from the prelims to the finals. I am used to this kind of environment."

North's teammate Courtney Schaefer ended her terrific career with a 5:12.65 in the 500 free, which took 24th place.

TAKING IT ALL IN >> In his final high school swim, Central York's Erik Peckmann was enjoying the moment. He joined brother Alec Peckmann, Jesse Tate and Will Hartzell on the Panthers' 400 free relay that placed 22nd in 3:18.14.

"It's an amazing experience," Erik Peckmann said. "I told the guys 50 years from now you are not going to remember your time. You're going to remember being here around all these fast swimmers."

The Central program is in great shape even with Erik's graduation, especially considering Alec is only a freshman, who earlier in the morning placed 28th in the 100 free in 48.36. Tate and Hartzell are juniors.

"It went by so fast," Erik said of his career. "I know the program is in good hands. Next Year's senior class coming back has great leadership."

New Oxford's Regan Chalk was another person whose career closed at states on Saturday when she came in 27th with a 59.45 in the 100 backstroke.

"Just making it here was awesome. My goal was to swim with the best of the best," she said. "Swimming kept me grounded. It got me to be well-rounded in every aspect."

SWIM OFF >> Talk about pressure. A swim off was needed to determine who would make to the medal stand in the 100 free when Patrick Lersch of Upper St. Clair and Mason Gonzalez from North Allegheny posted equal 46.44 time in prelims.

The District 7 rivals stayed close to each other throughout the extra swim, until Gonzalez touched out by a mere .30, forcing Lersch to the consolations.

AROUND THE PIAA >> Hershey won the girls' team championship again, although the Trojans trailed North Allegheny by 1.5 points heading into the final relay. Hershey won that relay and the title. Trojans senior Vivi Tafuto was chosen as girls Swimmer of the Meet.

LaSalle College repeated as the boys champion and Michael Thomas of Hatboro-Horsham won boys Swimmer of the Meet honors.

Reach Steve Navaroli at 771-2060.