Wilson's Takoda Heckman wins gold in Class 3A 500 free at PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships

Mar. 18—LEWISBURG — Takoda Heckman surprised himself in the best possible way.

The Wilson senior was the winner of the Class 3A 500-yard freestyle in Berks-record time Saturday on the final day of the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.

Heckman posted a time of 4:26.21 to capture the gold medal, breaking the county mark of 4:29.39 set by Gov. Mifflin's Ben Gerhard last season.

"I'm amazed," Heckman said. "I've got goose bumps. This is 100% the best moment of my high school career.

"I didn't think this was going to happen at all. All season long I was focused on the 200 IM (he took second in that event Friday) so I wasn't thinking about the 500. This was really my second event.

"I felt really good in the water, and honestly I felt that I had it won at the 200 mark. I was riding Sam's (Huggins of State College) wave and it felt amazing and I knew (Danny) Dunigan (of North Penn) was going to kick at the end but I knew I could hold him off."

"I know it's an odd combination of events to swim. I always swam IM and then my sophomore year I started doing the 500 and it just clicked for me."

Heckman finished second in the 200 IM Friday.

His gold highlighted a day during which Muhlenberg's Sydney Gring set a Berks record in finishing second in the girls 100 free, and Gov. Mifflin's Alex Wodehouse finished third in the boys diving. Berks athletes won nine medals.

Gring looked fabulous in silver, capturing second in 49.15, breaking the Berks mark of 49.54 she set in winning District 3 gold last month.

She had been seeded first after the preliminaries but was touched out by Alexa Fulton of Downingtown East (49.08).

"I'm very happy with that time and that I was able to drop tonight," said Gring, a senior whose preliminary time was 49.55.

It was the final individual swim of her high school career. She won gold in the 200 free Friday.

"I'm very, very satisfied," she said. "I'm so happy that this is the way it's ending."

She ended her evening by anchoring the Muhls' 400 free relay for Kathryn Tanis, Rachael Hess and Erin Smith that finished 10th in 3:32.87.

Muhlenberg finished 14th in team standings (63 points).

Wodehouse, a sophomore, finished third with a six-dive score of 283.45 points, an improvement from his eighth-place finish a year ago.

"I just wanted to get top seven so I could beat last year," he said. "This year we only did six dives (instead of 11 as in the past) and if you don't hit a single dive, you're done for, so consistency is very important.

"I'm very glad with how it turned out for me."

In boys, two other Wilson seniors stood on the podium in individual events. Ian Metzgar finished fifth in the 500 free (4:29.81) and Brady Wolf was sixth in the 100 breaststroke (57.15).

Wilson's 400 freestyle relay of Heckman, Trenti Lechleitner, Metzgar and Isaiah Eberly finished fifth in 3:06.89.

The Bulldogs also had a pair of sophomore divers in the boys event. Jackson Williams finished 19th (188.65 points) and Ephram Murray was 20th place (180.10).

Wilson senior Josh Woessner was 26th in the 100 free (47.73) while junior Mateo Graff placed 28th in the 100 breaststroke (59.51).

The Bulldogs were fifth in team scoring with 126 points.

Muhlenberg junior Brady Robidas earned the eighth-place medal in the 100 free in 46.34. He also anchored the 400 freestyle relay for R.J. Schaffer, Alex Kissinger and Jerricon Newton, which was 20th (3:14.47). Robidas finished sixth in the 50 free Friday.

Gov. Mifflin's 400 freestyle relay of William Troy, Matthew Drake, Colby Orndorff and Braden Weise finished in 3:10.86 for 12th place, and Orndorff finished 20th in the 500 free (4:44.03).

Exeter's William Fanning, a senior, finished his high school career with a 15th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (58.25).

For the girls, Exeter had a pair of individual medal winners. Megan Unruh placed fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:55.95) while Lauren Ramsey stood on the podium in seventh place in the 100 backstroke (56.94). Unruh was fourth in the 200 free Friday.

The Eagles' 400 freestyle relay of Gabrielle Istenes, Ramsey, June Grim and Unruh took fifth (3:30.92).

Also for Exeter, Mary Carl, a senior, ended up 22nd in the 500 free in 5:13.28.

The Eagles finished 10th in team scoring (101 points).

Wilson had a pair of sophomores reach the consolation heats.

Emma Dougherty won the consolation final of the 100 breaststroke to finish ninth in 1:05.19 and Olivia Vecchio finished 15th in the 100 backstroke (57.80).

The Bulldogs' 400 free relay of Vecchio, Evelyn Quick, Morgan Valeriano and Dougherty also won the consolation final to place ninth in 3:31.14.

Senior Madalee Roberts of Wilson was 22nd in the 100 free (53.59) while teammate and fellow senior Valeriano was 26th (54.00) in the same event. Lexi Stambaugh, a sophomore, placed 25th in the 100 backstroke (59.35).

Wilson finished 11th in team scoring (77 points).

Senior Ellie Friedlander of Gov. Mifflin was 11th in the 500 free (5:02.56).

Shailla Mejia of Daniel Boone, a junior, finished 23rd in the 100 backstroke (58.92).