The Kutztown Area High School swim team enjoyed another successful season this winter. This year’s team was comprised of returning swimmers senior Nikolette Nolte, sophomores Greta Feiertag and Annika Gally, and the team’s newest swimmer, freshmen Devon Becker.
The Cougars are not able to enjoy home pool advantage since KAHS does not have a pool facility. This aspect, combined with the fact that the Cougars are a small team makes it challenging to find opportunities to compete. Thankfully, the teams from Wyomissing, Boyertown and Muhlenberg school districts allowed the girls to swim at their dual meets this season. Additionally, the girls competed in invitational meets hosted by Bucknell University, Emmaus High School, Muhlenberg High School and Schuylkill Valley High School.
All of the swimmers cut time off their strokes over the course of the season. Freshmen Becker managed to drop time at every meet during this season. Ultimately, three swimmers were able to qualify and compete at the PIAA District 3 AA Championship meet. Nolte qualified for the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley; Greta Feiertag qualified for the 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle; Annika Gally qualified for the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke. Simply qualifying for this meet is an accomplishment since District 3 is arguably and historically one of the most competitive districts in the state.
The Cougars proved ready for the district competition. All swimmers scored points at the meet and earned district medals. Nolte got things started by placing third in the 200-yard medley. Feiertag followed with a personal best in the 50-yard freestyle which landed her in 8th place. Gally then swam her own personal best in the 100-yard butterfly and also earned an 8th place medal. Feiertag and Gally then swam personal bests in the 100-yard backstroke. These swims earned 12th place for Gally and landed Feiertag in 7th spot on the podium. Nolte then capped-off her team’s success by finishing in a team best 3rd place in the 100-yard breaststroke. Altogether, the team earned 71 points in a field of competitors that included multiple District record breakers. Despite only having three swimmers, the Cougars finished second in points among the non-pool schools.
The team’s great district efforts enabled two swimmers to qualify for the state competition. Nolte qualified in both the 200-yard medley and 100-yard breaststroke events while Feiertag qualified in the 100-yard backstroke. Annika Gally was just shy of qualifying in the 100-yard butterfly among a field that was significantly faster than the prior year.
The Cougar swimmers made the best of their opportunities to swim in the state competition. Nolte improved upon her 13 seed in the 200-yard medley and 7th seed in the 100 breastroke by finishing 6th in the state for both events. Nikolette was awarded 6th place medals and a spot on the podium for her efforts. Greta finished one spot ahead of her seed in the 100 backstroke.
This season was made even more special by seeing the return of a healthy, ever-optimistic Nolte for her final season of scholastic competition. She battled her way back from life threatening illness to prove that she is one of the best swimmers in the state. She has been a great leader and inspiration for others. The KAHS swim team will greatly miss her, but wishes her the best as she pursues her academic and athletic careers at Penn State University in the fall.
It must also be noted that Head Coach Melissa Nolte has invested considerable time in the KAHS swim program over the past few years. Coach Nolte’s efforts have helped to foster numerous opportunities for Kutztown swimmers to compete and thrive in high school swim competition. Assistant Coaches Jason Feiertag and Chris Gally hope to build upon the foundation built by Coach Nolte.
The Cougar coaches look forward to next season and the possibility of additional swimmers joining the team. The Cougars would also like to offer thanks to the teams from Wyomissing, Muhlenberg, and Boyertown districts for providing opportunities for Cougar swimmers to compete. Last, the Cougars would also like to thank the KASD administration and Board for its continued support of the swim program.