S. ABINGTON TWP. — Now that the Abington Heights swimming and diving teams are back in their own pool, head coach Zack Haney believes a very successful season could be on the horizon.
The team practiced at Marywood University last season while renovations were being done on the high school pool.
“We have our own pool now, so we can have a more regular schedule and practice more often and on our own terms,” Haney said. “Being able to work on our skills in the pool is already helping us a great deal in terms of starting off the season more conditioned. We’re extremely thankful to Marywood University for letting us use their pool last year, and we’re appreciative of the school district and school board for getting us a nice new pool.”
Seniors Brandon Kelleher (freestyle) and John Yocum (freestyle/backstroke); juniors John Frantz (freestyle/individual medley), John Graham (freestyle/backstroke), Carter Smith (diver), Jack Wasko (freestyle/butterfly), Josh Przekop (breaststroke/freestyle); and sophomores Jarred Ocwieja (freestyle/breaststroke) and William Tung (freestyle/butterfly) return with experience on the boys team.
Seniors Cohen Hodge (butterfly/freestyle) and Sam Remus (freestyle); juniors Sloan Seid (freestyle/breaststroke), Brandon Beck (freestyle/backstroke), Ryan Flynn (freestyle/backstroke); sophomores Brandon Klotz (freestyle/breaststroke), Nate Armstrong (freestyle), Connor Ocwieja (freestyle/breaststroke); and freshmen Joey Lipkus (freestyle), Burke Colombo (freestyle/butterfly), Adam Vale (freestyle) and Greg MacMillan (freestyle) are also expected to compete for spots in the lineup.
The team must replace seven key members — Shane Cummings (freestyle/breaststroke), Zachary Karabin (backstroke/freestyle), Julian Medina (diver), Rohit Nuguri (breaststroke/individual medley), Chris Suh (breaststroke/individual medley), Ben Vale (freestyle/butterfly/breaststroke) and Donald Weiland (freestyle/backstroke) — who all graduated.
Haney believes the depth of the boys group will give the team an advantage over many opponents.
“We can fill the lanes and I think we’re going to have a decent amount of depth,” he said. “We graduated a lot of seniors, but I think we have a good bunch of underclassmen coming up to fill their roles. We had a lot of boys come out of the woodwork last year who ended up being great swimmers. I had a lot of boys who had never swam competitively and it’s amazing how good they have become in just a year.”
Frantz is striving to take on more of a leadership role the season as well as boost the overall morale.
“I’m definitely trying to have more of an influence on the new swimmers and pump up the team spirit,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a very strong team. We have some freshmen who are showing a lot of potential.”
Seniors CC Donahoe (freestyle), Rachel Lorah (butterfly/individual medley), April Sokalsky (freestyle/backstroke) and Samantha Wilkerson (breaststroke); juniors Sarah Bath (backstroke/freestyle), Meghan Marion (diver), Camille Marquardt (diver), Elizabeth Rembecki (freestyle) and Kyra Sladicki (breaststroke/freestyle); and sophomore Lucy Earl (butterfly/freestyle) return with experience on the girls team.
Senior Amanda Hazlett (freestyle/backstroke), sophomore Peyton Gualtieri (freestyle/breaststroke), and freshmen Lauren Schofield (individual medley/butterfly), Isabelle Bernard (freestyle) and Abby Brock (freestyle/breaststroke) are also expected to compete for spots in the lineup.
The team must replace five key members — Leah Byman (freestyle/butterfly), Sydney Dana (diver), Karley Feather (diver/freestyle), Kelsey Jackson (freestyle) and Jasmin Patel (individual medley/butterfly) — who graduated.
“They might not have as much quantity as the boys, but I think the quality is still pretty excellent,” Haney said. “We have a few returning girls who did very well at the end of last year. I also think a lot of our incoming swimmers are going to make a huge difference.”
Sokalsky, who finished third in the 200 freestyle at districts last season, is hoping to finish her final season on a positive note.
“I think there is definitely more room for me to improve,” she said. “I’m hoping to drop two seconds off my time. I want to medal at districts again and if I’m lucky enough, go to states.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.