Houtz ‘flys’ to another state medal

Sentinel photo by JIMMY MAY
Juniata’s Sydney Houtz swims the last lap of her 100-yard butterfly during the finals Wednesday evening during the PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University in Lewisburg

LEWISBURG — As a team of one, Sydney Houtz has been pretty successful.

Houtz, a junior from Juniata High School, earned her fourth state medal in three years Wednesday with a sixth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly in the PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.

“Im happy with how we’re doing and hoping it can jump start the Juniata swimming team a little bit,” she said.

Houtz nearly matched her preliminary time, swimming the distance in 57.81 seconds in the final. She went 57.78 earlier in the day, fourth among finalists, to clinch a spot on the medal stand. It was not her personal best — that came in District 6 last year — but was close.

“The prelims today, that was probably like my second best,” she said. “I was pretty happy with it when I got out of the pool.”

She admitted it was a bit of a shock at first when she saw her time versus her place.

“I’ve got to say, when I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that I had gotten sixth, I was like, ‘Wait, what?,'” she said, knowing it was a similar time to her fourth-place finish in the morning.

The race was won by Maura Fluehr of Springfield (Montgomery County) in 55.69 seconds. The other District 6 entry, Sophia Gerhart of Penns Valley, tied for third.

“Sophie and I go back and forth a lot,” Houtz said. “She was actually the one I was racing when I got my personal best. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to come back and get her.”

Of the winning time, Houtz said, “That was sensational. I watched the video twice just watching her.”

Houtz, who swims as an independent entry because Juniata has no team, still has her better event coming up today when she tries to improve on her bronze-medal finish a year ago in the 100-yard backstroke. She is a two-time medalist in that event and was district champ.

“It kind of put in perspective how lucky I’ve been to be able to improve my swims,” she said. “I’ve becom a better swimmer all around.

“I know that coming off of tonight I’m going to be ready for tomorrow at prelims. Hopefuly I can just carry this energy into tomrrow.”

Houtz was eighth a year ago in the butterfly. In 2017, she finished 12th overall, a big improvement from her 21st seed. The backstroke has been her more successful race, having finished seventh as a freshman and third a year ago.