LEWISBURG — After a season littered with near-misses and second-bests, Nick Dubinski finally found a just reward.
Just in time to take a place on the state medal stand.
Dubinski not only broke the Holy Redeemer school record, he placed seventh in the boys 100-yard breastroke with a sizzling time of 59.76 to earn the only medal among Wyoming Valley Conference swimmers on Saturday at the PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
“I’m just excited,” Dubinski, a Redeemer junior, said. “It means a lot to me. I’m one of the only ones from our district that made it to the final round. I never thought I’d be getting a state medal.
He almost grew accustomed to being edged out during the 2016 swim season.
Dubinski was out-touched at the end of a couple of close league meets, then finished second to Dallas’ Porter Luksic in the District 2 Class 2A breaststroke championship.
But in the biggest meet of his season, Dubinski wouldn’t be denied.
He first set a school record in the morning preliminaries, finally cracking the minute-mark with a time of 59.98. Then Dubinski broke it again at night, chopping more than two-tenths of a second from his morning time to earn a seventh-place state medal.
“The biggest thing, he faced some adversity this season and he responded,” said a grinning Holy Redeemer coach Jack Port, who pumped his fist over Dubinski’s record-breaking swim in the medal race. “He got second at districts, had some tough runs through the season. But he’s a competitor. It was a hard work, and he had a good attitude.
“I’m just so proud of him.”
A bunch of other WVC swimmers joined Dubinski in making waves at states.
Dallas’ Annalise Cheshire from the girls team and Luksic from the Dallas boys both swam in two consolation races Saturday night. So did Wyoming Seminary’s Tara Kupsky, who barely missed collecting her second state medal of the weekend when her girls 400 freestyle relay team missed the medal swim by one-hundredth of a second.
It started on the diving board, where Dallas junior Lexi Spaciano worked her way from a 23rd seed all the way to a top-10 state finish in girls Class 2A diving.
“I just tried to do my best on every dive, take one dive at a time,” said Spaciano, who only began diving this season. “I didn’t want to watch the other girls too much. I was a little worried about making finals.”
Fellow WVC divers Riley Williams of Holy Redeemer, who finished 15th, and Dallas’ Maddy Ross, who took 16th, joined Spaciano in the diving finals. But they were expected to be there, after finishing as the two best divers in the District 2 championships and seeded among the state’s top seven competitors in the state field.
Yet, she kept piling up enough points to make it through each of the first two cuts of divers. Then Spaciano registered 35.65 points with her final dive of the day, moving into 10th place with a total of 337.30 points and finishing just 7.2 points shy of eighth place and the medal stand.
“But finishing 10th is good,” Spaciano said. “I nailed it on some of my first dives, and I thought I was going to be OK. Just to be here is a great experience. Hopefully next year, I can come back and get a medal.”
The Wyoming Seminary girls had to fight back from some heartbreak.
Tara Kupsky, her sister Paige, along with Ava and Julia Baur formed a 400-freestyle relay team that swam a 3:39.55 morning preliminary heat. That time was ninth-best among 24 teams, and turned out to be as close as anyone can come to the finals without making it. Clearfield, the No. 8 team from preliminaries, finished with a 3:39.54 in preliminaries and wound up in the medal race.
The Blue Knights rebounded quickly, though.
Tara came back to take third place in the consolation race of the girls 500 yard freestyle, then — swimming for the final time with her senior sister Paige — anchored a Sem team that won the consolation race of the 400-freestyle relay with a season-best time of 3:37.06.
“We were a little bummed this morning,” Tara said. “We knew we were going to be able to bring it when we came back tonight.”
Did they ever.
Second swimmer Julia Baur gave the Blue Knights the consolation lead, Paige increased it to a body length, and by the time Tara finished, Sem was more than two seconds ahead of the rest of the pool. In fact, the Blue Knights’ 3:37.06 would have beaten Northern Allegheny’s 3:37.83 and three other finishers in the championship race and put Seminary as the fifth-best Class 2A 400 freestyle relay team had it come in the finals.
“It really makes things up for not going to the finals,” Tara said.
The Blue Knights finished just ahead of a Dallas 400-free relay team that placed 11th overall and third in consolations with a time of 3:41.18. That Mountaineers group was driven by Cheshire, who finished in 54.32 to earn sixth in the earlier girls 100 freestyle consolation race.
On the boys side, Luksic finished seventh in the breaststroke consolation race and 15th overall with a time of 1:01.01, then finished up for a Dallas 400-freestyle relay team that also wound up seventh in consolations and 15th overall with a time of 3:21.11. Wyoming Seminary’s Matt Bean also made a consolation run, finishing 16th overall in the 100 backstroke.
“I am pleased. I’m not satisfied,” Luksic, a senior, said. “It’s not gratifying to go up in time. But I’m still happy with myself.”
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski