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Family Takes the Day as Brothers and Sisters Both Reach the Next Level After Successful District 4 Meet

Records, medals, and a lot of cheering were the highlights of the District 4 Swimming Championships at Williamsport.

Swimming is a different kind of sport to follow. It’s one where swimmers represent schools just like every high school sport, but where the difference starts is in the offseason when most team up with their local YMCA programs.

It creates fun rivalries, but it also creates a unique situation throughout the District 4 meet. Yes, every swimmer wants to leave with a medal, but they also are there to cheer and support their friends.

As countless swimmers reached the top of their respective races more were there to greet them with cheers and support when the water finally settled. Jersey Shore’s Emma Butzler won the 100 fly, and teammate Jordan O’Connor broke a school record with her second-place finish in the 100 back. Bloomsburg’s Hanna Everhart erased a record that had stood for nearly 20 years, Danville’s Luke Stine won multiple events, and Sayre’s Joshua and Caleb McClelland each qualified for states.

There are plenty more stories floating around, but let’s zero in on a few from a highly successful District 4 meet at Williamsport.

Sister Act, too

Shamokin’s Abby Doss entered as the favorite in the 500 free. She won the event in last year’s district and state championships. She even set a district record in last year’s meet. It’s easy to see why she was a favorite.

She might have felt nervous heading into the meet since she set the bar so high, but that wasn’t the source of her nerves. Her younger sister, Gabrielle, was also competing at the meet.

Despite the nerves, both swimmers competed and won their respective events. Doss qualified with a win in the 500 free, and Gabrielle edged the competition in the 100 breast. Gabrielle even helped Doss with her laps in the 500 free, which helped since the two made up hand signals just in case Doss needed to speed up or slow down during the grueling 500 free.

Doss will be headed back to Bucknell to defend her state and national titles in the 500 free, but this time she will be doing it with her sister there for a little more than support. This time it might be big sister who will be the one cheering a state champion to the finish.

Brothers gotta hug

Sayre isn’t the first school that comes to mind when thinking about the District 4 Swimming Championships. There’s Lewisburg, Danville, Bloomsburg, Central Columbia, Montoursville, and Shamokin just to name a few that might come before Sayre.

Thanks to the McClelland brothers those names might have to be included with Sayre after the brothers produced three gold medals between the two of them.

As a senior, Caleb McClelland knew it was his last chance to claim a title, and he delivered. McClelland opened the 200 free strong, jumping out to a quick lead. He was challenged but ultimately pulled away for a win. His final time of 1:44.31 edged Central Columbia’s Connor Empie, who posted a 1:46.91.

“At the invitational, they did here I got a 1:47 and that’s only two seconds away from the record,” McClelland said. “I figured I would just go for it.”

McClelland went for it and delivered with gold. One day later he was back in the pool for his featured event — the 500 free.

“This is my event,” McClelland said. “It feels great. It’s an honor to be here. I get to swim with great people, and it’s just great to come down and swim against them.”

McClelland admitted the most difficult part of the entire meet was watching his brother swim.

“That’s what I was more nervous about than my events,” McClelland said. “There was nothing I could do with his.”

McClelland had his brother with him throughout the event last year. This year was different as both qualified for the PIAA Championships.

That wasn’t the only excitement McClelland was going to have on the day. His biggest concern after stepping down from the podium was having enough time to see his little brother Joshua compete in the 50 free.

“We train together and pace off each other,” McClelland said. “I make him stay ahead of me because he sprints. It’s good to have somebody, especially when it’s your brother.”

Joshua McClelland, the sprinter in the family, proved he was up for the challenge of following his brother’s first district gold. Joshua took on a tough field in the 50 free and cleared it by a second to claim the top spot. He posted a 22.87 in the event. He also became the second McClelland to reach the top spot on the podium.

“It’s really cool because we are always split apart,” Joshua said. “He’s a distance swimmer, and I’m the sprinter. He’s more of the swimmer, but I get to sprint in the 50. I’m just happy to be going to states with him.”

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