Wenzel reclaims title, Freece finishes second in state


Submitted Photo

1&2 in the State: Meghan Wenzel (right) won first place in the state diving championship and Maddie Freece (left) was the runner up.

LEWISBURG- It was a wild and unique state championship competition for the swimmers and divers at Bucknell University, the venue for the PIAA 3A swim/dive championships, but in the end, it was senior Meghan Wenzel claiming the state championship and senior Maddie Freece was the runner-up.

Last year the North Penn divers locked up the top four spots in a remarkable performance, but this year was different.

“It was different this year because normally we have like four people go, and this year it was only me and Maddie.  So, we had more pressure to do well for our team,” Wenzel said.

Even more pressure was added when the coronavirus outbreak cancelled the finals for the swimmers.

“Normally the swimmers aren’t there for the diving, because they have to come back and swim later, but because the finals were cancelled, all of the swimmers were there.  And then they realized halfway throughout the meet, that if Maddie and I got first place and second, that we tied for the state title with Upper Dublin.  So, then they started cheering really really loud and it was cool,” Wenzel explained.

It was Freece who secured the co-championship for North Penn with her final dive.

“Going into the meet, I knew Meghan and I needed to take top two to be able to win the title as a team.  I didn’t know the results during the meet so I actually wasn’t aware that my last dive would determine if we won the title or not.  I just wanted to hit my dive knowing it would be my last moment as a North Penn athlete.  I wrote a bible verse, Joshua 1:9, ‘Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,’ on my hand for states as a reminder of where my help comes from and it definitely helped me stay calm and focused amidst the competition.  After my last dive, all my teammates started going crazy as my scores flashed up on the board showing I scored enough to give us the points we needed to win.  All our teammates ran over to Meghan and I cheering because we won the meet and they took us into the biggest group hug and I looked over to Meghan and said ‘We did it.’  That was probably the most special moment of my high school career.”

Before Freece’s dive, Wenzel went on the diving board for her final dive and reality hit the same time she hit the water.

“I got on the board for my last dive and all the swimmers cheered so loud before I even went and I was just like this is my last dive at high school.  And then as soon as I went in the water, it was good and I had a pretty big lead, so as soon as I hit the water I was like, dang, I’m a state champion,” Wenzel explained.

Prasham Jobanputra
Signing Day: Wenzel (left) signing to dive for Georgia and Freece (right) signing to dive for Liberty.

The two-time state champion Wenzel, reclaims the state title after placing first in her sophomore year.  She was the runner-up last year.

“It shows all my hard work pays off and it just makes me excited for the future for what could come up at Georgia and I think it prepared me well for what’s to come,” Wenzel said on what it means to be a two-time champion.

Wenzel will continue her diving career for the Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia as she will attend Georgia University to dive and study nursing.

“I’m going to be a small fish in a big pond.  I want to be able to make a big splash right when I get there,” Wenzel said.

Freece will travel to Lynchburg, Virginia to compete for the Flames at Liberty University while studying nursing as well.

“I couldn’t be more excited to dive at liberty.  The coaching staff is amazing and team is so nice.  Being a Liberty Flame has been something my family and I have talked about ever since I was a little girl, so thinking about starting up this fall is crazy.  We have a really strong team.  We’re the best in our conference and we have a lot of freshmen coming up this fall, so I’m really excited to see what we do on the collegiate level.  While I’m down there, I’m going to pursue a career in nursing in hopes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and work in a children’s hospital,” Freece said.

The Knights will now say farewell to two of the top divers in their program ever, and will be hoping to continue their dominance off the diving board next year, and for years to come.

“It was a way for me to enjoy the sport I love and be surrounded by some of my closest friends.  It taught me a sense of community, hard work, and what it means to be a knight,” Wenzel said on her time at North Penn.

“Being a North Penn athlete has meant so much to me.  It’s such an amazing and rare opportunity to be a part of a team as powerful as North Penn.  We have a huge team with so much diverse talent and it’s definitely helped shape me into the athlete I am,” Freece said.