LEWISBURG — Kate Luft wiped the slate clean entering the second day of the PIAA Class 2A Swimming Championships.
After a close second-place finish Wednesday, Luft entered Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium ready to cap a brilliant high school career.
No surprise, she did that and more.
Luft swam the fastest preliminary time in the 100-yard backstroke Thursday, then won gold in the evening finals with her time of 54.45, defending her 2018 state championship.
“After being a little upset about not winning, I wanted to start the day fresh,” she said. “It was important for me to be not thinking about the past and focus on each race as it comes along. Focus on what I know I am able to do and what I have trained for all the time.”
Despite being a tenacious competitor, Luft was emotional knowing it was her final race for Northern. She will swim collegiately at South Carolina.
Making her career even more amazing is the fact that Luft suffered a serious neck injury the summer before her freshman season with the Polar Bears. She went from not knowing if she would swim again to breaking District 3 records and earning multiple PIAA gold medals.
“Definitely a combination of everything,” she said. “I am very blessed. I have a great support system. From my family, my teammates, my coaches, my friends. It really does take a village.”
Part of Luft’s family includes older sister Becca Luft, who also excelled in the pool at Northern. Kate chased Becca from all throughout their childhood — even in her final swim.
As the Polar Bears 400 freestyle relay took to the block in the medal finals, Kate went first, trying to break her sister’s school 100 free record to start the relay.
Kate, of course, did it with her split of 51.10 and teamed with Dahna Yoon, Katelyn Boyce and Abigail Soerens for a fifth-place medal.
“We switched the order around because I was trying to break my sister’s record. It was a pretty fun way to end a meet,” she said.
Bubblers medal on board
Between the morning prelims and evening consolations and finals the 2A boys diving championships took place.
After the event, Boiling Springs diving coach Scott Houser said it seemed fitting that seniors Jack Still and Jordan Morret capped their careers next to each other on the medal podium at Bucknell University.
Still won a fourth-place medal for the second straight year after scoring 419.30 points, and Morret got sixth-place hardware with his 394 points.
“I had a good meet,” Still said. “I was happy with it, especially my first five dives.”
“Last year I got ninth and just wanted to get a medal,” Morret said. “It was awesome with Jack.”
It marked the third state medal won by a Bubblers diver in two days as Lily Reighard placed fifth in Wednesday’s girls competition.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Still said. “The ultimate goal was to have all three get medals.”
LEWISBURG – It’s not often that Northern senior Kate Luft has someone pass her in the water.
Strine gets hardware
Only a sophomore, Shippensburg’s Julia Strine made her presence felt on the big stage with a pair of swims Thursday.
Roughly 20 minutes after she placed 16th in the 100 free, Strine earned a fourth-place medal in the 100 breaststroke with a brilliant 1:03.67.
“I was really relaxed. I had my mind set that this is my race. I was swimming in my favorite event,” she said of the breaststroke. “To be there and medal in an A final at states is amazing.”
Northern’s Yoon swam a solid 500 free, dropping more than two seconds for a 5:48.48, which earned her 11th place. Soerens earned a consolation swim and placed 16th in the 100 breaststroke.
Big Spring freshman Matthew Raudabaugh earned himself an evening consolation swim in the boys 100 breaststroke with his prelim time of 1:01.36.
Other girls finishes
100 free: Makenna Morris, Shippensburg (21).
500 free: Apple Burton, Trinity (18); Sara Turner, East Pennsboro (24).
100 back: Lila DiCarlo, Trinity (30).
400 free relay: Shippensburg (17), Trinity (20).
Other boys finishes
100 free: Rece Shelly, Trinity (24), Cole Ellis, Boiling Springs (29).
500 free: Scott Majka, Trinity (25).
100 breast: Matthew Raudabaugh, Big Spring (13).
400 free relay: Boiling Springs (21), Northern York (24), Trinity (28).