Inspiring finish for cancer survivor
Kutztown senior returns from lymphoma to add pair of state medals
Nikolette Nolte closed out her scholastic swimming career with an inspiring finish.
Nearly 11 months after the Kutztown High School senior was diagnosed with primary mediastinal B cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma last April, Nolte claimed a pair of sixth-place medals at the PIAA Class AA Championships this past weekend at Bucknell University.
“I remember just hitting the wall and knowing that I did it,” said Nolte, who recently committed to swim at Penn State University. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Nolte opened up the weekend with a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley on Friday. After swimming a 2:10.76 in the morning’s preliminary swim, Nolte posted a 2:10.25 in the evening’s medal round. She finished right on the heels of Wyoming Seminary’s Tara Kupsky (2:08.63).
Nolte then closed out Day Two Saturday with a 1:05.91 in the 100 breast. She finished right behind Mercyhurst Prep’s Mary Claire Stark (1:05.04).
Both times she took to the medal stand over the weekend, Nolte was embraced by her mother and coach, Melissa Nolte. Of course, those are the moments that will stick with mother and daughter forever.
“We’ve been through a lot and she’s been by my side through it all. Getting here after everything, I’m very thankful.”
Her success at states is quite an accomplishment, especially considering how far she has come in the past year.
“I went through six rounds of treatment and it took a total of 18 weeks,” she said. “Last summer, I could barely walk to the doctors. I was on a ventilator for a week and a half and I received my last rites. So to be able to come back and swim, let alone be in the final, is pretty cool.”
Schuylkill Valley’s Marlee Rickert left Bucknell with a trio of gold medals. The sophomore claimed fourth place in the 50 free (23.89) and silver in the 100 back (55.72). She also swam the first leg of SV’s second-place 400 free relay. The contingent, which included Emily Van Der Sleen, Emily Griesemer and Lauren Hart, finished up at 3:34.31 behind only Shady Side Academy (3:34.05).
Brandywine Heights sophomore Skylar Strunk qualified 10th in the 50 free in 24.19 to make the B final. She finished 10th in the finals in 24.11.
Brandywine Heights’ Michaela Hersh qualified 18th in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.06). The sophomore also finished the 200 free prelims in 22nd (2:01.47). Kutztown’s Greta Feiertag placed 31st in the 100-yard backstroke prelims. On the boys side, Schuylkill Valley’s Colin Gwiazdowski put together a successful weekend.
The senior finished with a gold medal in the 100 free to go along with a silver in the 50 free by the conclusion of the PIAA Class AA Championship.
Gwiazdowski posted a 45.44 in the 100 free to claim gold. He narrowly edged North Schuylkill’s Reggie Crawford (45.54) and the rest of the field.
He took silver in the 50 free with a time of 20.50 after setting the state record in his prelim swim with a 20.45. Crawford matched the 20.45 in the final, forcing the SV senior a step down the podium.
Schuylkill Valley also claimed fifth place in the 200 free relay (1:28.57). The contingent included Gwiazdowski, Chris Zeiner, Dawson Mohl and Lucas Knopsnyder.
Individually, Mohl claimed eighth in the 500 free with a time of 4:50.01. Clearfield’s Luke Mikesell claimed first with a time of 4:28.28.
The Governor Mifflin girls swim team has experienced substantial growth over the course of the past several seasons.
And last week, they displayed it on the state’s grandest stage.
The Lady Mustangs secured four individual and three relay medals — including gold in the 200-yard freestyle relay — on the way to a third-place finish at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Bucknell University.
Three years after sending just one representative to states — Gabriella Johnson — Mifflin had seven different swimmers hit the water this time around. The Mustangs locked up third place overall with 168 team points, behind only North Penn (258) and Avon Grove (203).
The Mustangs secured first in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:33.18, cutting nearly a full second off their morning preliminary time of 1:34.08. The contingent included Courtney Hubric, Rebecca Brown, Connar Melcher and Emma Steckiel.
Brown, Hubric and Steckiel also linked up with Ava Enriquez for a bronze finish in the 400 free relay, which finished up at 3:24.93. Mifflin also secured sixth place in the 200 medley relay. The contingent, which included Corinne McCurley, Johnson, Enriquez and Hubric, finished up at 1:45.43.
Individually, Steckiel secured a silver and fifthplace medal. The sophomore posted a 23.02 in the 50 free, behind only Gateway’s Olivia Livingston, who set a new state record with a time of 22.73. Rebecca Brown took fifth with a time of 23.49.
Steckiel also took fifth in the 100 free with a time of 50.44, right on the heels of West Chester East’s Ann Carozza (50.40). Hubric took eighth in the 50 free, touching the wall at 24.08.
As her team’s lone representative, Muhlenberg’s Cameron Gring headed back home with a pair of medals. The sophomore took gold in the 100 back at 54.28, beating the field by nearly a full second. She also finished sixth overall in the 200 IM (2:03.43).
Wilson-West Lawn’s relay proved to be their strength. The Bulldogs took fourth place in the 200 free relay at 1:35.45 with Sophia Appler, Carolyn Pitorak, Rylee Wenzel and Shelby Kahn finishing right behind North Penn. Kahn, Wenzel and Appler also took sixth place in the 400 free relay with Carly Campion. The contingent finished up at 3:30.25.
Exeter’s Brooke Bollinger finished eighth in the consolation finals (16th overall) in the 100 breast. She touched the wall at 1:05.95. Daniel Boone’s lone representative,
Carlie Owens, finished 21st overall in the 100 breast at 1:05.99.
On the boys side, Wilson’s relays secured three medals during the state meet at Bucknell University.
The Bulldogs opened up with an eighth-place finish in the 200 medley relay. The contingent was made up of Jack Werner, Donovan Curran, Andrew Sillhart and Alexander Vottero, and finished up at 1:34.84. Wilson also finished sixth in the 200 free relay (1:35.47), with Vottero, Brody Heckman, Malachi Eberly and Caleb Eberly. The Bulldogs also closed out the meet with a seventh-place finish in the 400 free relay (3:09.16). The contingent included Werner and Curran along with Malachi and Caleb Eberly.
Wilson finished tenth overall in the team standings with 78.5 points. North Allegheny claimed first with 301 followed by North Penn (190) and Upper Dublin (134).
Muhlenberg’s Roanoke Shirk grabbed a sixthplace medal with a 1:40.81 in the 200 free. He also placed 10th in the 500 free (4:34.32). Daniel Boone’s Chris Guiliano finished 14th overall in the 200 IM. The freshman swam a 1:54.41, cutting over a second off his preliminary time.
Governor Mifflin finished 16th overall in 200 free relay. The contingent, which included Shane Stauffer, Trevor Woolwine, Aiden McCurley and Tim Mangan, finished up at 1:28.06.
Kutztown senior Niki Nolte, left, earned a pair of state medals at the PIAA Class AA Swimming & Diving Championships last week at Bucknell University.