Championship Preview: Easterns, Nationals, National Preps, More
It’s Championship Weekend for several of Mercersburg’s winter athletic teams February 25–27. The Blue Storm swimmers and divers are ready for the 2022 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships, which is the top prep-school swim meet in the nation. Three Mercersburg wrestlers have qualified for the 2022 National Prep Wrestling Championships, and the boys’ and girls’ varsity squash teams are headed to the 2022 US Squash High School Team Championships.
These three events (better known by their shortened names of “Easterns,” “National Preps,” and “Nationals”) are the traditional climaxes of their respective seasons.
The Easterns swimming competition will be held at the Kunkel Aquatic Center/McGinness Pool on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, with diving taking place at Germantown Academy in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington. Swimming preliminaries begin at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with finals set for 6:30 p.m. both days. The girls’ diving competition will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, with the boys’ event taking place Saturday at 10 a.m. (Note that no spectators will be permitted for swimming or diving.)
Mercersburg has an iconic tradition of success at Easterns, with more than a dozen team championships. The Blue Storm girls last won Easterns in 2016, and the boys took home the title in 2010. In 2020 (the most recent renewal of the event), the Storm boys placed second and the girls were fifth. And while the Storm boys have five Easterns team titles since 1993, Mercersburg’s girls, in particular, have been remarkably consistent, having finished in the top five of the team standings in 27 of the last 30 years.
Both teams have a number of top qualifiers, including Jacob Pishko ’22 (boys’ 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 500 free) and Leah Gentry-Tuney ’22 (girls’ 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free, 100 breaststroke). Maddie Koutavas ’22 posted the top seed time in the girls’ 100 breast (1:03.91)—an event in which three of the top four seeded times (and four of the top seven) are held by Mercersburg swimmers: Gentry-Tuney is second, Lily Gugino ’24 is fourth, and Isabella Van Ess ’22 is seventh.
Three male and three female divers are competing, led by Pete Curtis ’22 and Clare Ip ’23.
For the very first time in their 86-year history, the National Prep Wrestling Championships are being held somewhere other than the Lehigh University campus in Bethlehem, PA. In 2022, National Preps has moved to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, MD. Three Mercersburg wrestlers—Alex Forrester ’23, Hayden Shirk ’24, and Luke Hendricks ’24—qualified by finishing in the top six of their respective weight classes at the Pennsylvania Independent School Wrestling Tournament last weekend.
Forrester (132 pounds, 26–9 this season, fifth at PAISWT) will wrestle at National Preps for the second time, having competed as a ninth grader in 2020 (which was Mercersburg’s most recent appearance at the event). Shirk (145 pounds, 33–9, fourth at PAISWT) and Hendricks (285 pounds, 27–10, fourth at PAISWT) are making their first National Preps appearances. Hendricks is the No. 13 seed in his bracket.
The action begins Friday at noon, with quarterfinals slated for 7 p.m. Action continues Saturday at 9 a.m., with championship finals set for 2 p.m.
Mercersburg has won five National Preps team titles and 36 individual crowns; the most recent Storm grappler to earn an individual title was Bobby Burg ’11 in 2011 (160 pounds).
The boys’ and girls’ varsity squash teams are heading to the Philadelphia area for Nationals, and will compete beginning Friday. The Storm girls are 10–3 overall and fresh off a second-place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Tournament, and are led by Indira Moshi ’24 (13–0 this season) and Martina Vega Calero ’23 (12–1).
Not to be outdone, the Mercersburg boys enter with a 9–4 mark and are paced by Huzaifa Ibrahim ’24, who is a perfect 13–0 this season and has yet to drop a single game. The second and third spots on the ladder are occupied by Fawad Ali Jan ’24 and Azian Subhani ’23, who sport identical 10–3 records.
The girls are competing in the Division IV draw, where they earned the No. 3 seed and will open the tournament against Westminster School (Simsbury, CT) on Friday at the Berwyn Squash & Fitness Club in suburban Berwyn, PA. The boys are the No. 6 seed in the Division III bracket, and face St. George’s School (Newport, RI) at the University of Pennsylvania Squash Courts. The event runs through Sunday.
At the state and conference level, Mercersburg’s girls’ varsity basketball team has advanced to the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Commonwealth Cup tournament, and visits the George School Thursday, February 24, at 5 p.m. in Newtown, PA. The Storm defeated host Baldwin School, 38–34, in a quarterfinal game February 22.
The team also hosts local rival St. Maria Goretti in the Independent-Parochial School League championship game Saturday, February 26, at 1 p.m. in the Plantz Courts of Nolde Gymnasium.
For results and updates all weekend, follow Mercersburg Athletics on Twitter: twitter.com/MburgAthletics.