LEWISBURG — Cumberland Valley’s Jonathan Chang qualified for the PIAA Class 3A 100-yard butterfly as a sophomore last year, and was the lone Eagle boys swimmer to make the trip to Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
Friday’s visit, for the same event, was different. This time Chang wasn’t alone, having senior teammate and good friend Owen Brewer to compete alongside and even against.
Throughout the 2023 postseason, CV’s one-two punch has written a script even Hollywood’s best would struggle to scribe: finishing back-to-back in every event they’ve swam together. Friday’s newest chapter had a slight twist, but kept the same plot, as Chang tied for 12th and Brewer took 14th in the 100 fly.
“To have someone who pushed you every day in practice and pushing you in meets, it’s definitely something you just can’t replace,” Brewer said. “Because you’re competing with each other every day, you know how the other one’s gonna do, and you just got to try to beat him. So I think that kind of mindset definitely has helped us throughout the season and get us to where we are now.”
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Chang’s time in the 100 fly consolations clocked in at 51.37 seconds while Brewer was just off pace at 51.53. The pair traded places from their preliminary swim, where Brewer got Chang by an eyelash at 51.46 to Chang’s 51.47.
The duo also competed as part of CV’s 200 medley and freestyle relays that reeled in 20th and 29th-place finishes.
“It’s been a pretty long day for the both of us,” Chang said. “We added a few (seconds to our times), but looking at our times, we were 0.01 off, so it was pretty hype. We both made it to the finals for the first time … so we’re pretty excited for it.”
Chang’s appearance in the 2022 championships fly yielded a 25th-place result. The pair’s 12th and 14th-place entries make up the closing chapters to a book of competitive, head-to-head postseason races.
It all started with gold and silver medals in the Mid-Penn 50 free and transitioned to a duet of three-four finishes at the District 3 championships in the 100 fly and free. Chang grabbed each top honor between the two leading up to Friday’s prelim swim.
“We just had a lot of motivation from districts and Mid-Penns, and we carried that through this meet,” Brewer said. “Having a teammate by your side to always do it with, it’s such a great experience. It’s just a lot of fun to be out here and competing together.”
Competition aside, Chang and Brewer credit their bond in helping author their postseason story.
“I think it’s had a huge impact on success,” Brewer said. “Being able to train with someone like that, it really pushes you to work harder. So I don’t think without him, I would be where I am today in the postseason. I’m just thankful for that brotherhood.”
“Last year was my first states, and I swam the same event, and I was here by myself,” Chang said. “So it was kind of a different atmosphere this year, a different environment, with more guys. Last year, I didn’t have the best swim. I really think Owen being here helped push me to the finals.”
In other 3A consolations
Mechanicsburg’s Lance Ginter made his state debut in the 200 individual medley, placing 12th with a time of 1:55.51. Ginter improved upon his prelim time and attributed the ascension to maintaining energy late in his race.
“I struggled a little bit here this morning, just felt tight on the back half,” Ginter said. “But (in consolations), it felt good. Breaststroke felt great, and personally, I thought I was out farther ahead than what I finished. I struggled to close a little bit, but overall, I’m happy with the swim.”
Above all, Ginter made sure to appreciate the moments of his first and last state meet.
“It was definitely great to be representing Mechanicsburg,” he said. “We still have a great team over there, great coaches … and I’m just happy to be here swimming for them.”
Carlisle’s Maddy Coombs stood alone as the local girls swimmer to compete in the evening session. The Herd junior placed 11th in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:53.42, a 0.34 second improvement from her prelim.
She hopes the 200 will set the tone for her signature 500 free race Saturday.
“I’m definitely excited for tomorrow’s swim and to see what comes out of it,” Coombs said.
Christian Eby is a sports reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at: @eby_sports