Butzler has chance to break 57 in 100 fly at states
Before the district meet started, Jersey Shore senior Emma Butzler had two goals: get her relay teams to the state meet with her and break 57 seconds in the 100 fly.
Butzler accomplished one of those by helping get the Bulldogs’ 200 medley and 200 free relay teams to the state tournament with her teammates Jordan O’Connor, Veronica Sander and Meaghan Keegan.
But just because she didn’t break the 57 second mark at districts doesn’t mean she missed out on the chance to do it. There’s still one race left for Butzler to attempt it, albeit the biggest race of the year: the PIAA swimming championships.
Butzler is one of just seven area individual swimmers that will be competing at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium for the PIAA swimming and diving championships, which begins today and runs through Saturday for both Class AA and AAA.
Between Class AA and AAA in both boys and girls, there are a total of six area relay teams competing.
Getting below 57 in the 100 fly is something the four-time District 4 100 fly champion has wanted to do, and coach Jenna Brooks knows that Butzler has the ability to get that PR she’s been eyeing all season. After all, having watching her swim since she was a kid, Brooks has seen Butzler exceed expectations.
“She always seems to exceed my expectations. Last year at states, she was so close to breaking a 57 and I know for a fact that she will achieve her goal and anything she sets her mind to,” Brooks said, noting that Butzler has increased her time in the 100 fly from the first race last season to this year by two seconds. “She is such a hard worker and she deserves everything she sets her heart out for. If she wants that 56, I know she’ll get it because she has been working towards that goal ever since she swam a 57.03 and came up three-hundredths of a second at states last March.”
If Butzler does earn a trip to the podium in the 100 fly, she would sit in a league of her own in Jersey Shore history. Entering the state meet this year, Butzler is tied with Maddie Thompson (100 free, 2010-11), David Sheets (100 back, 1988-89) and Joy Sundberg (100 back, 1975-76) as the only Bulldog swimmers to place at the state meet in individual races twice.
No Shore swimmer’s won three individual state medals, although Thompson is the school’s top medalist with four, having also won with the Shore’s 200 medley relay teams in 2009 and 2008, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Brooks was a member of that 2008 relay team.
Butzler is also one of only three athletes at Jersey Shore to win four consecutive individual district gold medals in any sport, joining wrestler Sam Eck (2003-06) and golfer Danielle Griffin (2008-11).
Butzler finished third last year and seventh as a freshman in 2015, and her third-place finish in 2017 is the second-best all-time finish for any Bulldog swimmer, behind only Sheets’ second-place 100 back finish in 1988.
Other Shore swimmers who have two medals as part of relay teams are Brooke Koch (medley relays, 2008-09), Danielle McPherson (medley relays, 2008-09), Brandon Davidson (medley relays, 2004-05), Lee Thompson (medley relays, 2004-05), Lee Gephart (medley relays, 2004-05), Michael Smith (medley relays, 2004-05).
This is the final individual race for Butzler in her high school career as a varsity swimmer, but she said it hasn’t set in that she’s done yet, mainly because she’s still got swimming to do.
“I still feel like I have a lot of swimming left as a high school student. I have YMCA Nationals during the first week of April, so I will be training up until that point,” Butzler said. “I do get sad thinking about not having team wing night and leaving my close-knit team. But I know my teammates will visit me in college (at Marist).”
Brooks knew at the beginning of the year this was it for Butzler as a Bulldog swimmer, but she’s been enjoying watching her compete her senior year every race.
“I knew at the very beginning of the season that this would be the last year that I would be able to coach her, but that has not made this year any less exciting than the previous two years,” Brooks said.
Butzler’s two relay teams — the 200 medley and 200 free — will look to try to get on the podium as well as she’s joined by O’Connor, Keegan and Sander in both races. O’Connor is also swimming in the 100 back after she took second at districts while breaking the school record in the process.
Lewisburg’s Christian Coleman is competing in two events in the 200 IM and 100 free and Christopher Meng will be competing in the 100 breast, as the duo combined to win three gold medals at the District 4 meet.
Lewisburg’s Lauren Michaels and Delaney Humphrey are both competing in two individual events as Michaels will swim in the 200 free and 100 back and Humphrey will swim in the 200 IM and 500 free.
The Lewisburg girls’ 200 medley relay team of Michaels, Anna Batkowski, Humphrey and Sarah Burns qualified thanks to their third-place finish time.
In boys swimming, Lewisburg’s Christian Coleman was the only area two-time individual district champion this year, winning the 200 IM and 100 free. Teammate Christopher Meng will compete in the 100 breast, an event he won as well, while Montoursville’s Sam Jordan will swim in the 100 back, an event he qualified in thanks to his time.
In girls Class AAA, Williamsport didn’t have any individual swimmers qualify, although it did send the team of Annie Rosenow, Elisa Dinicola, Isabelle Griswold and Lydia Smith in the 200 free relay.
Rosenow, Dinicola, Griswold and Smith beat Hazleton in the relay with a time of 1:42.41, winning by just over a second.
Williamsport’s boys 200 medley relay team of Riley Hockman, Joshua Bonislawski, Justin Downs and Matt Beard also qualified for states after winning their relay in the District 2 meet in a very close, exciting race.
The foursome edged out Wyoming Valley West’s team by just 0.04 seconds to take the gold.
WHAT AREA SWIMMERS ARE COMPETING AT THE STATE MEET?
GIRLS CLASS AA
*Jersey Shore 200 medley relay team (Jordan O’Connor, Meaghan Keegan, Emma Butzler, Veronica Sander)
*Jersey Shore 200 free relay team (Jordan O’Connor, Meaghan Keegan, Emma Butzler, Veronica Sander)
Lewisburg 200 medley relay team (Lauren Michaels, Anna Batkowski, Delaney Humphrey, Sarah Burns)
Emma Butzler, Jersey Shore (*100 fly, 100 free)
Jordan O’Connor, Jersey Shore (100 back)
Lauren Michaels, Lewisburg (200 free, 100 back)
Delaney Humphrey, Lewisburg (200 IM, 500 free)
GIRLS CLASS AAA
*Williamsport 200 free relay team (Annie Rosenow, Elisa Dinicola, Isabelle Griswold, Lydia Smith)
BOYS CLASS AA
Christian Coleman, Lewisburg (*200 IM, *100 free)
Christopher Meng, Lewisburg (*100 breast)
Sam Jordan, Montoursville (100 back)
BOYS CLASS AAA
*Williamsport 200 medley relay (Riley Hockman, Joshua Bonislawski, Justin Downs, Matt Beard)
* – district champion