The Shippensburg University women’s swimming team received excellent swims in the 400-yard individual medley (IM) on Thursday from juniors Alyssa Tomb (Harrison City, Pa./Penn-Trafford) and Michaela Hersh (Mertztown, Pa./Brandywine Heights), efforts that helped pace the Raiders on the second day of the 2023 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships being contested at the Graham Aquatic Center.
Both women qualified for the championship ‘A’ final of the event, with Tomb finishing fourth and Hersh finishing fifth. It is the second time in the last three years that the two women have each turned in a Top 5 finish in the event in the same season.
Tomb improved upon her PR twice Thursday, first fashioning a time of 4:33.56 in prelims that made her the No. 3 seed. She further enhanced her PR to 4:33.24 at night, which leapfrogged her one spot above Hersh into third on SU’s all-time list in the event.
It is the third consecutive year that Tomb has finished fourth in the event at the conference meet, giving her three straight Top 5 finishes.
Hersh delivered back-to-back season bests with her swims, first turning in a time of 4:37.30 in the morning to qualify as the No. 6 seed. Her evening finals time of 4:36.73 improved her one spot to fifth place. It is her third consecutive scoring effort out of the championship final, having placed seventh last year and second as a freshman in 2021. Her PR remains 4:33.30, a time that now has her fourth in school history, narrowly behind Tomb.
Sophomore Gracie Wetzel (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe) shook off a tough morning prelim swim by improving nearly two full seconds in the evening, finishing 21st overall out of the pre-consolation ‘C’ final with a time of 4:51.60.
Sophomore Allie Keeling (Redlands, Cal./Redlands) won the pre-consolation ‘C’ final of the 200-yard freestyle, placing 17th with a time of 1:56.41 that was just about a full two-second improvement upon her morning preliminary time. The time was just .17 seconds off her season best and only seven-tenths of a second off her collegiate best.
Also in the 200-yard freestyle, senior Marina Cote (Papillion, Neb./Daniel J. Gross) broke the two-minute mark for the first time, recording a PR of 1:59.84.
The evening concluded with junior Marissa Bittner (Middletown, Del./Appoquinimink), freshman Lana Brown (Oley, Pa./Oley), Hersh and sophomore Lauren Croll (Honolulu, Hawaii/President Theodore Roosevelt) completing the 400-yard medley relay in an eighth-place time of 4:01.58. Bittner led off with a 100-yard backstroke split of 59.27 seconds, countable due to it being the start of the race, while Hersh had a listed butterfly split on the third leg of 59.62 seconds.
The 200-yard freestyle relay of freshman Lana Brown, Croll, Sammy Taylor and Cote finished ninth in 1:41.25. Brown’s opening leg off the blocks of 25.39 seconds was just .27 seconds off her season best, while Croll’s listed split of 24.71 seconds was the fastest of the event for the Raiders.
Shippensburg is in seventh place at the midway point of the 2023 PSAC Championships.
Day 3 begins at 10 a.m. Friday with prelims.
4. Alyssa Tomb 4:33.24 (4:33.56p)
5. Michaela Hersh 4:36.73 (4:37.30p)
21. Gracie Wetzel 4:51.60 (4:53.13p)
Rachel Johnston 4:58.10
Kristin Gebhard 1:02.67
Lauren Croll 1:02.78
Grace Reagan 1:03.93
Gwen Elsey 1:06.95
17. Allie Keeling 1:56.41 (1:58.33p)
Marina Cote 1:59.84
Marissa Bittner 2:00.43
Sammy Taylor 2:01.83
200 Free Relay
9. Lana Brown, Lauren Croll, Sammy Taylor, Marina Cote 1:41.25
400 Medley Relay
8. Marissa Bittner, Lana Brown, Michaela Hersh, Lauren Croll 4:01.58