Mapletown’s Menear claims gold medal at PIAA swimming championships

Friday, March 19, 2021 | 3:46 PM

It took Ella Menear a little longer than she had hoped to make her PIAA Class AA swimming debut.

But when the independent sophomore from Mapletown reached the light at the end of the tunnel Friday at Cumberland Valley High School, she found herself in possession of a state gold medal.

With the Class AA state meet back up and running after last year’s cancellation because of covid concerns, Menear was able to best the field in the 100-yard backstroke. The WPIAL champion in the event clocked a winning time of 54.99 seconds.

“Last year was so disappointing, but this year, I just told myself I was going to come in and swim as hard as I could,” Menear said shortly after her gold-medal performance.

“I am super pumped right now.”

The win in the 100 backstroke came about two hours after Menear placed third in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:05.64. Menear also arrived at states as the 200 IM WPIAL champ and top seed (2:04.54).

“I was actually pretty upset with my 200 IM,” Menear said. “So that definitely gave me more fuel going into the 100 back. The 200 IM made me mad, so I swam mad in the 100 back. It gave me more power and motivation coming back.”

Menear said she is excited for future PIAA opportunities.

“I am going to work hard throughout the next year so I can hopefully come back next year and maybe have a better outcome in the 200 IM and better my time in the 100 back,” she said.

Quaker Valley junior Isabel Huang made her return to states Friday and captured two more medals, including a second-place finish in the 200 IM with a time of 2:05.60.

She got back in the pool for the 100 backstroke and placed fourth (56.28).

Both were improvements from her freshman year when she was fifth in the 200 IM and 11th in the 100 back at Bucknell.

South Park freshman Katie Jackovic also made her WPIAL debut and captured a silver medal in the 50 freestyle (23.85) and took fourth in the 100 freestyle (52.32).

“I did a lot better than what I thought I was going to do,” said Jackovic, the WPIAL champion in both sprint freestyle events.

“It was a really good learning experience for me. I can take this and know what I need to work on starting in the spring and going into the summer.”

Shady Side Academy sophomore Maeve Kelley, the WPIAL champion in the 500 free and 200 free, placed second in the 500 with a time of 5:03.22. She parlayed that with a fifth-place finish in the 200 free (1:54.66).

Quaker Valley left Cumberland Valley with a pair of relay bronze medals. The 200 medley relay of Huang, Rena Gilligan, Emily Connors and Ella Fuener swam to a time of 1:47.86, while the 400 free relay of Huang, Connors, Fuener and Halle Wagner recorded a time of 3:35.14.

Both relays won WPIAL titles March 6. The Quakers finished sixth in the team standings with 105 points, the best finish among WPIAL teams.

Villa Maria won the PIAA Class AA girls team title with 157 points.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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