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High school swimming: Schnars takes third in backstroke at PIAA Championships

Bellefonte's Colton Schnars finished third in the boys’ 100-yard backstroke on Thursday with a time of 51.51 seconds for his second medal at the PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.
Bellefonte's Colton Schnars finished third in the boys’ 100-yard backstroke on Thursday with a time of 51.51 seconds for his second medal at the PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University. CDT photo

Colton Schnars was looking to add his name to the growing legacy of Bellefonte state champions.

He came up a fraction short of those goals in his final meet as a Red Raider.

Schnars posted a pair of third-place finishes at the PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships on Wednesday and Thursday, and also helped a pair of relay teams reach the evening finals.

The senior capped his time at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium with a bronze medal in the 100-yard backstroke and helping the 400 freestyle relay team take 13th place.

“I guess I’m happy with it,” Schnars said. “But I was pretty close to second place and I’m pretty bummed out about that.”

He knew he could have finished even faster.

He touched the wall in 51.51 seconds, but his personal record of 51.39 came less than two weeks ago at the District 6 Championships.

Griffin Schaetzle if Mercyhurst Prep was second in 50.92, but they were both chasing the fastest boy in the pool.

Brent Benedict of Corry broke the state record in the morning preliminaries at 48.55, and easily won the finals in 48.74.

Benedict was in Lane 4, with Schnars in Lane 3.

“He’s really good,” said Schnars, who was timed in 52 seconds flat in the morning preliminaries. “I knew he was going to be so far ahead of me. I was just looking to race the rest of the pack because I knew he’d be so far ahead.”

Schnars had the misfortune of having to race against Benedict twice. The Corry senior’s only two individual races were the backstroke and 100 butterfly, in which Schnars also finished third. Benedict twice set the state record in that event, in the preliminaries and finals.

Benedict capped his day by being named the male Swimmer of the Meet.

“We knew he had some competition coming in,” Red Raiders coach Serena Pfaff said. “He wasn’t going to be handed what he was going to get. He knew he had to work for it.”

Schnars finished the 100 butterfly in 51.38 on Wednesday.

The senior, who likely will be heading to the military and giving up competitive swimming, was seeking to become Bellefonte’s first state champion since Andrew Rosenberger and the 200 medley relay team two years ago.

Schnars wasn’t done when he climbed out of the water after the backstroke. He had to stand poolside and wait until after the next event to be given his medal, then had to immediately join his three teammates for the consolation heat of the 400 free relay seconds later.

Having no cool-down period made the task tricky.

“That was definitely pretty rough,” Schnars said. “That definitely made it hard in that last relay to be fully recovered.”

Schnars said he did manage to stay loose and he figured he was only about a half-second off his split time for his leg from the district meet.

“It’s hard but that’s high school swimming,” Pfaff said. “You turn around real quickly. They’re kind of used to it, but this is a little more fast-paced.”

Taking the first three turns in the pool were Chance Foster, Finn Nixdorf and Grey Rockey. The quartet finished in 3:21.02.

The foursome had a clocking of 3:22.11 in the prelims.

On Wednesday, Scordato, Schnars, Foster and Rockey took 11th in the 200 medley relay.

They all combined to help the Red Raiders finish 18th as a team with 52 points. Quaker Valley won with 174, well ahead of runner-up Bloomsburg’s 140.

“Just very proud of them,” Pfaff said. “Not a lot of swimmers get to come here.”

In the morning preliminaries, Penns Valley’s lone representative, Megan Duck, finished 31st in the 100 breaststroke with her time of 1:13.21.

For the Red Raiders in the morning preliminaries, Scordato was 32nd in the 500 freestyle in 5:11.18, and Miranda Fidor captured 30th in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.33.

The AAA teams take over the pool Friday and Saturday, with State College sending competitors in most of the events. The Little Lions’ Carter Hardy leads the contingent as a top-15 seed in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

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