Clearfield swimmers celebrate dominant District IX run


Randy Pollick

Clearfield swimmers celebrate their District IX championship.

Justin Maines, Staff Writer

At the beginning of every March, the Bison and Lady Bison swimming and diving teams compete at the PIAA District IX swimming and diving championship. The District IX championship is the gateway to the PIAA State Championships held at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. The winner of each event automatically qualifies to swim at the state meet. Clearfield competes with opponents from four other schools: Bradford, Brookville, DuBois, and St. Mary’s. This year, the district championship was held at the Robert L. Shearer Natatorium located in the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School on March 1 and 2. Memorable moments from the meet include Luke Mikesell breaking the District, pool, and team records in his individual events, and the girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay set a new pool record. The team qualified eight boys and four girls to compete at the PIAA State Championship on March 13 and 14. The Bison aim to pick up strong finishes at the state meet, with Luke Mikesell looking to defend his championship in the 500 Yard Freestyle.

Starting on the girls’ side, Clearfield kicked off the meet with a bronze finish in the 200 Yard Medley Relay with the team of Josie Narehood, Madison Kipp, Christina McGinnis, and Charlise McSkimming. The 200 Yard Freestyle followed with a win from Clearfield’s Karli Bietz, beating out the second place swimmer by over seven seconds. This was a strong event for the Lady Bison, as Narehood and Alexandra Shultz added a third and fourth place finish respectively. Raegan Mikesell added a silver medal in the 200 Yard IM, finishing behind winner Emma Webster from Bradford.

The Lady Bison continued their strong meet in the 50 Yard Freestyle, with the Clearfield duo of Makeeli Redden and Abby LaBorde placing first and third, respectively. Kipp lead Clearfield with a fourth place finish in the 100 Yard Butterfly. The first day of action for the girls concluded with the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay. The team of Redden, Bietz, Mikesell, and LaBorde took gold with a new pool record of 1:39.30.

The Friday session of swimming was followed Saturday morning with the diving competition. Clearfield had two divers, Alexis Shomo and Josie Grice, competing in the District IX championships. Grice picked up the bronze medal, and Shomo got silver. The battle for first was competitive between Shomo and St. Mary’s gold medalist Carissa Vavala, and both divers ended up with great scores.

The second half of the swim meet picked up with the 100 Yard Freestyle. It was a Clearfield sweep, with Redden, Mikesell, and LaBorde taking top three respectively. Bietz picked up her second win of the meet with a first in the 500 Yard Freestyle, and the duo of Shultz and Narehood placed third and fourth. McSkimming was Clearfield’s top finisher in the 100 Yard Backstroke, picking up a fifth place finish. Kipp and Elise DuFour finished fifth and sixth for the Lady Bison in the 100 Yard Breaststroke.

The meet concluded for the ladies with the 400 Yard Freestyle relay, where the Clearfield team of Redden, Bietz, Mikesell, and LaBorde beat out the closest team by almost 20 seconds. The Lady Bison were crowned the District IX team champions for the second year in a row by beating out second place St. Mary’s by over 100 points.

The Clearfield boys began the meet by looking to extend their dominant District IX championship win streak to seven years. The 200 Yard Medley Relay kicked off the meet strong for the Bison, with the team of Isaac Swanson, Noah Jordan, Luke Mikesell, and Elliot Thorp beat the field by over 11 seconds. Mikesell got back in the pool for the next event, the 200 Yard Freestyle, and he broke the pool and team records for the event in a dominating swim. Parker Marshall added to the strong performance in the event with a bronze finish. Leif Hoffman picked up the win for the Bison in the 200 Yard IM, and Jordan and Justin Maines finished third and fourth.

The fastest event of the day, the 50 Yard Freestyle, finished with Swanson in second place and fellow Clearfield swimmer Trevor Franek picking up the bronze medal. Following the 50, the 100 Yard Butterfly took place, and Maines finished in silver position. Before the 200 Yard Freestyle relay took place, the coaches knew it was going to be a close race between Clearfield and rival DuBois. The Bison ended the first day with the team of Thorp, Maines, Marshall, and Hoffman bringing home the gold.

The boys diving competition featured a strong performance from Clearfield’s divers. Cody Shaw won the event with a score of 422.00. Following Shaw’s finish was Sam Pennington, Corbin Turner, and Nick Unch finishing second, third, and fourth respectively.

The second day of the boys swimming competition started on an interesting note. Clearfield’s Thorp and Tucker Fenstermacher of DuBois tied for first in the 100 Yard Freestyle, and were crowned co-District IX champions.

Following this unique moment, Mikesell broke the pool record in the 500 Yard Freestyle, continuing his great district meet. The 100 Yard Backstroke featured the duo of Swanson and Marshall placing first and third, respectively. Jordan picked up the silver in the next event, the 100 Yard Breaststroke. The meet ended with the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay team of Swanson, Hoffman, Thorp, and Mikesell taking first place in dominant fashion. The boys’ team extended their District IX Championship win streak to seven straight years, beating out second place DuBois by nearly 150 points.