BURNHAM - How far do you have to swim to make it to districts?
In Jenna Kile's case, it was as far as anyone goes in a scholastic meet - 500 yards. When Kile did it in a qualifying time Tuesday, Mifflin County coach Connie Welch was ecstatic.
The fact that Kile was second in that race meant nothing, Welch said, after the difficult season the junior has had working her way back to the District 6 Class AAA meet in the 500-yard freestyle.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mifflin County’s Jenna Kile competes in the girls 500-yard freestyle event against Tyrone at the Burnham YMCA Tuesday. Kile finished second and qualified for districts with her time of 6:28.18.
And Kile still was contributing to her team's victory: The Mifflin County girls beat Tyrone 82-81 in the non-league event, which was senior night for the home team. The Huskies fell by a 83-71 score in the boys meet.
Kile missed several weeks of the season with a case of pneumonia, which made it that much harder to come back not just for the swimming, but for the breathing - 500 yards is a haul in the pool, and it required an exceptional effort for her to make time. Desire to return to the district meet drove her ambition, Welch said.
"She knew she was really close. Things haven't fallen into place for her until right now," Welch said. "She's really building on her swimming. She's on a rough road."
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Welch said she lined up the entrants in a way she hoped would help Kile get the job done.
"It makes it very special - I'm really proud of her. She did a great job tonight," the coach said.
Although Tyrone shifted some people around too in an effort to gain on the Huskies, the performance of the girls team, which carried a lead of nearly 10 points into the latter part of the schedule, was too much for the Golden Eagles.
Winning two events each and taking part in a winning relay were Sarah Bonson and Megan Becker; Kile and Rachel Stimeling were in the relay. They and Kaitlyn Eckley all picked up second-place finishes that were key to the outcome.
"My girls team has always been really strong. I have some strong seniors that I wish I would have had all four years," Welch said.
In particular, she mentioned first-year swimmers Analee Gentzel and Alison Treaster, the latter having volunteered to swim the 200 individual medley to try to help score points for the team.
"200 IM is not an easy event to swim, so for her to come to me and say, 'I want to swim that' is a big deal," Welch said. "It's not quite as evident in the places but it helps the team as well."
Welch said the boys were unable to overcome the shifts in events Tyrone made to boost its chances.
"I was hopeful," she said. "That's what you've got to do. I just need some more boys."
But there were a few highlights. Evan Becker had two first-place finishes, and Zack Bonson won a pair, qualifying for districts in the 100-yard backstroke. And Drew Kline won both the 100-yard butterfly and 100 breaststroke as an individual, plus swam on a winning relay.
"He's really doing well," Welch said. "We had some really good placements - even some good second places."
The latter included Seth Barger (100 backstroke) and Shane Whalen (100 breaststroke).
The girls improve to 4-7 and the boys are now 1-10. The team travels to Northern York's Polar Bear Plunge Saturday, and has a final home meet Feb. 22 leading into districts.