Bellefonte’s Zach Malinich’s headphones hugged his ears Thursday as he listened to rap and EDM before his 100-yard butterfly event at the PIAA Class 2A Boys’ Swimming & Diving Championships at Bucknell.
He tried to clear his mind, took a few deep breaths, hopped in the pool — and then came away with the second-fastest time of his season.
Malinich, a junior, clocked a time of 58.02 seconds at Kinney Natatorium. He didn’t place within the top 10, or even the top 20, but he was still satisfied with his performance. He was competing with the Keystone State’s best swimmers, after all.
“It’s been pretty amazing so far,” Malinich said. “So far, I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.”
The Red Raiders were one of just two county teams represented at the Class 2A championships — St. Joseph’s Peter Forstmeier finished 24th in the 200-yard individual medley — and they were mostly hoping to gain experience for the future. Bellefonte’s team boasts just two seniors, so student-athletes like Malinich, who’s competing in his first individual event at states, are looking at the experience as a springboard for the future.
“States is kind of carrying that momentum forward,” Raiders coach Laura Randazzo said.
Malinich was also part of the 200-yard medley relay team, which also consisted of Ian Lowery, Brian Feldman and Dmitry Wall. The quartet finished Thursday with a time of 1 minute, 46.18 seconds — which put them just outside the top 20.
Two of those same swimmers will take part in individual events Friday.
Lowery is set to swim in the 100-yard backstroke, and Feldman will compete in the 100-yard breaststroke. And Feldman has some pretty lofty goals.
“I really want to come in the top 8,” he said. “I think it’s definitely possible, but I’ll have to take a perfect swim. I really want to put that together.”
No matter what happens Friday, the Bellefonte boys’ swimming team said it’s already been pleased with what it’s accomplished. Getting to this point has been the goal all season, so the Raiders are relishing in the opportunity — and still hoping for a few season bests.