Colton Schnars is focused this season.
The Bellefonte senior has been putting in his time in the pool, swimming lap after lap. He’s also been following the dry-land regimen spelled out by his coaches.
On top of all that, he’s been hitting the weight room, lifting hour after hour each week.
“I think that helped me out, made me a lot stronger in the butterfly,” Schnars said Friday afternoon at Penn State’s McCoy Natatorium.
The hard work has definitely made him strong for the butterfly. Schnars shattered the District 6 record in the Class AA 100-yard fly, one of five district marks to fall on the first of two days for the district championships.
“We knew he had it in him,” Bellefonte coach Serena Pfaff said. “We were just waiting to see what he could do.”
Schnars flew through the pool in 51.14 seconds sending him to the PIAA Championships at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium in a little under two weeks. The state championships will be held March 11-12 for Class AA and March 13-14 for Class AAA. The district champions and anyone else who is among the state’s top times round out the field.
Schnars bettered the butterfly record that had stood since 2009 of 52.26 seconds. The senior sliced 1.12 seconds off the meet record, also bettered the record for Class AAA, slicing 2.60 seconds off his previous career best and finished 1.97 seconds ahead of runner-up Nathan Mihalko of Richland.
He will make his fourth trip to the state championships, and has his sights set on a top-eight finish.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Schnars said. “I dropped a lot of time, and I think I can drop a lot more going into states.”
As for all that time with the weights, chiseling his body, a nice reward came his way Friday.
“I was pretty broken down,” said Schnars. “But I’m feeling good. I’m ready for states.”
In Class AAA, State College was once again the dominant team in the pool, winning all but one event Friday with three district records broken.
Carter Hardy was a record-breaker in the 200 individual medley. His time of 1:54.30 was 0.63 faster than Bradley Gibble’s top time from a year ago.
Hardy also teamed with Joseph Liechty, Jordan Hillsley and Matt Morris to win the 200 medley relay in 1:36.44. Also, the team of Morris, Hillsley, Hardy and Filip Turecky were clocked in 1:28.91 to win the 200 freestyle relay.
Turecky added a win in the 200 free in 1:46.78, Morris was first in the 50 free in 22.34 and Jon Cather led the 100 fly field in 53.31.
On the girls’ side, two more records fell thanks to Lady Little Lion swimmers.
The afternoon started with Juliet Garrigan, Kirsten Hillsley, Kate Cooper and Fiona Vashaw clocking in at 1:47.79 in the 200 medley relay, topping the district mark of 1:48.73 set four years ago.
Macy Blake, Harley Stuyvesant, Hannah Finton and Vashaw later turned in a 1:39.37 result in the 200 free relay, shaving 0.02 off the district mark set last year, with all but Blake on that team.
“We come to this meet expecting to really shine,” coach Ryan Sprang said. “I like the records because the kids like it and they feel good about knowing they were the fastest to compete in that event in this meet. That’s the only reason I pay attention to records. It’s not like I’m saying we have to set a certain number of records in this meet to feel good about what we’ve done. It’s just a nice bonus.”
Garrigan added a victory in 2:08.66 in the 200 IM, Vashaw was first in the 50 free in 24.38 and Cooper took the 100 fly in 57.87.
The other record to fall Friday came in the Class AA boys’ 200 IM, with Hollidaysburg’s Colter Long touching the wall first in 1:57.71, bettering the mark of Bellefonte’s Andrew Rosenberger of 1:59.13 set in 2013.
Schnars will not be the only Red Raider heading to the Bucknell campus.
He teamed with Patrick Scordato, Chance Foster and Grey Rockey for a time of 1:41.56 in winning the 200 medley relay. Rockey added a win in the 200 free in 1:52.74.
“Extremely proud of all of them,” Pfaff said after watching 10 individuals or teams reach the podium for top-six finishers for Bellefonte.
Also reaching the podium in Class AA were Peter Forstmeier of St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, who was third in the 200 IM in 2:14.19, and Penns Valley’s Megan Duck, placing fifth in the 200 IM in 2:23.47. Duck will be the top seed for the 100 breaststroke on Saturday, while Forstmeier is the top seed for the 500 free.
Altoona’s Katerina Parowski won the girls’ 200 free for the only Class AAA event not won by State College, and with most events dominated by Little Lions for podium places, State College is well on its way to taking the team titles on both sides.
Still, after Friday’s action was done and swimmers were filtering out of the building, Sprang was giving a pep talk to one of his charges: “You’ve got more in you.”
“I say that pretty much every time,” Sprang said. “That’s just kind of the way I am. No matter how good somebody does, there’s always something they can do better.”