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Reporter/Times Herald Area Girls Swimming Preview

Big-meet tested and coming off a state title during water polo season, the North Penn girls go speeding into 2018.
“The team is poised to have a strong season,” coach Jeff Faikish said. “We look forward to the potential this team has to offer. They are a well-rounded group with most swimmers able to swim any event in any meet.”
North Penn may be powering towards a Suburban One League Continental Conference title defense while Archbishop Wood is rising up the ranks in the Philadelphia Catholic League.
“With a good senior class and a great freshman class,” coach Charlie Stillwell said, “this year we will be competitive again in the Catholic League with our eye on the top spot.”
Lansdale Catholic has some postseason aspirations of its own.
“The ones returning to districts will be looking to improve their place on the podium,” coach Bob Birnbrauer said.
Upper Dublin has long been the fastest team off the blocks in the SOL American.
Said coach Patrick Redican: “The first objective is to win the conference for the 29th consecutive year and then look to do battle with the likes of Avon Grove (PIAA-3A Champs) and North Penn (District 1-3A Champs) in the postseason.”
Wissahickon is ready to dive in at its new digs.
“We graduated six seniors, including a couple top points scorers,” coach Laurie Hug said, “but have a strong core group returning.
“We also gained some freshmen who we we hope will help the team immediately. We expect several swimmers to qualify for districts as well as advance to states. And the team is really looking forward to competing in our new pool.”
Following is a team-by team look at the area.
Archbishop Wood
Coach: Charlie Stillwell (22nd season).
Last year’s record: 7-5, 6-2 PCL; Distirct 12-2A Champs.
Key returners: Aubrey McDonough, Sr., breast/back/IM; Kayley Hence, Jr., sprint free; Elizabeth Dern, Jr., distance free; Molly Prior, Jr., breast; Emma Foley, Jr., fly; Taylor Green, Sr., back/free.
Others to Watch: Molly Ross, Jr., back/breast; Riley Sheehan, Fr., breast/back; Suzy Hercher, Fr., distance free; Meagan Muhlig, Fr., fly; Teresa Frenandes, Fr. back; Nora Hetzel, Fr., back/free.
Strengths: Good depth, especially in the strokes.
Question marks: Some of our key performers this year will be young.
Central Bucks West
Coach: Vibeke Swanson (26th season).
Last year’s record: 4-8.
Key performers lost: Sarah Stim (JMU); Carly Siegle; Elizabeth Gallagher; Sarah McPhearson.
Key returners: Samantha Seiden, Jr., fly/IM/free; Natalie Yim, So., free/fly; Kaitie Button, Sr., back/distance free; Rileigh Thompson, Sr., breast/fly/IM; Samantha Remmey, So., distance free/IM; Rebecca McPhearson, Jr., diving.
Others to watch: Emily Grill, Jr., distance free/IM; Christina Cavalluzzo, So., breast/sprint free; Kate Hasagawa, So., back/fly; Emma Bekes, So., back/fly; Julia Cullen, So., diving; Bridget Naylor, Sr., free/back.
Strengths: Building a young team and with the new freshmen, should be stronger than last year.
Question marks: Inexperience.
Coach Swanson says: “Our leadership with Kaitie Button, Abby Slaymaker, Rileigh Thompson and Bridget Naylor is strong and their experience and leadership should guide this young team to success.”
Germantown Academy
Coach: Jeff Thompson (fourth season).
Last year’s record: 8-2, 4-2 InterAC.
Key performers lost: Sook-Hee Evans (Tufts); Karliee Carminati (Towson); Alaina Schumann (Bucknell).
Key returners: Caroline Osman, Sr., free/back; Emily Thompson, Jr., IM/free; Emma Atkinson, So., all strokes; Erin Merke, Jr., all strokes; Riley Gobora, Sr., free/fly.
Others to watch: Alana Andress, So., free/fly; Emily Morrissey, Jr., free.
Gwynedd Mercy
Coach: Heather Norman (14th season).
Last year’s record: 8-3; fourth in the Catholic Academies League; District 1-2A fourth place; PIAA-2A States Runner-Up.
Key performers lost: Emily Gregor; Alyssa Gesek (King’s College); Steph Szekely (Penn State).
Key returners: Katie Caputo, Sr., diver; Annie O’Dare, Jr., IM/breast; Nicole Sasso, So., sprint free; Alaina Zaki, Sr., fly/free; Aileen Murray, So., breast/IM; Anna Gola, Sr., sprint freestyle; Maura Toner, Sr., IM/back.
Others to watch: Brigid Toner, Sr.; Lauren McGee, Sr.; Elyse Landry, Jr.; Christina Kilcoyne, So.; Ella Fall, Fr.
Coach Norman says: “Looking for an exciting season. There is a big gap left by graduating many seniors but excited for the group of strong seniors and eager juniors that are ready to lead and step up to the ‘block.’ Our sophomores are excited to share what they have learned with the freshmen and have set their goals a little higher this year. Looking forward to strength in every individual event.”
Hatboro-Horsham
Coach: Kip Emig (28th season).
Key performers lost: Katie Moore; Grace Riemenschneider.
Key returners: Becca Rudnitsky, Jr., free; Arielle Hammer, Jr., back.
Lansdale Catholic
Coach: Bob Birnbrauer (23rd season).
Last year’s record: 7-4, 4-4 PCL; District 12-2A Runner-up.
Key performers lost: Courtney Fries.
Key returners: Hailey Gianon, Sr., IM/Free; Lauren Kristofco, Sr., free/breast; Madeline Kulik, Sr., free; Joey Lamorticell, Sr., free/fly; Meghan Primus, Sr., free/breast; Sam Razzi, Sr., IM/fly; Julie Waller, Sr., free.; Colleen Costello, Jr., free/back; Mary Gunder, Jr., free; Sara Murphy, Jr., all strokes; Caroline Primus, So., free/back; Mary Picozzi, So., free; Lauren Grillo, Fr., free; Elizabeth Gunder, Fr., free; Emily McGovern, Fr., all strokes; Madison Loeffler, Fr., all strokes; Bryne U’Selis, Fr., all strokes.
Strengths: Murphy, Gianoni, Costello, Picozzi and Razzi are all district medal winners as well as state team members, and Meghan Primus and Kristofco are district qualifiers.
Coach Birnbrauer says: “Looking forward to a stronger dual-meet season with added depth and increase in district representation.”
Lower Moreland
Coach: Karney McNear (15th season).
Last year: District 1-2A 12th place.
Returning district scorers: Abby Hwan.
Others to watch: Sam Becker; Grace Dudek; Emily Vaidyan; Emma Volokhonsky; Levi Yuval, diving.
Mount St. Joe’s
Coach: Janet Tompkins (17th season).
Last year’s record: 5-4, second-place finish at AACA Conference Champs.
Key returners: Jen DeGroat, Sr., free/IM; Taylor Draganosky, Sr., breast/IM; Rebecca Patti, Sr., all strokes; Cath Antonacio, Sr., free/back.
Others to watch: Hailey Goodyear, Jr., fly/back/ free; Bryn McGovern, Jr., back/free; Shayne McKernan, Jr., free/back.
Strengths: There is strength in numbers, a large deep squad which makes it very versatile. There are seven seniors on the team whose leadership will be invaluable this year, their work ethic and supportive attitude setting the tone for the rest of the team.
Question marks: A large incoming freshman class of swimmers. It will be interesting to see how they transition to high school swimming and how big of a role they play in the upcoming season.
Coach Tompkins says: “I am excited for the season. They have already shown that they are willing to work, now we get to watch how far that drives takes them.”
North Penn
Coach: Jeff Faikish (second season).
Last year’s record: 12-0, SOL Continental Champs; District 1-3A Champs; PIAA-3A Runner-Ups.
Key performers lost: Kailyn Evans; Heather Hartmann; Callie Smith.
Key returners: Maura Christian, Sr., sprint/manager; Caroline Gillespie, Sr., utility; Abbe Greene, Sr., distance; Emily Henry, Sr., free; Maddy Koerper, Sr., sprint/back; Rosalinda Rivera, Sr., sprint; Maeve Wydan, Sr., middle distance; Megan Zartman, Sr., utility.
Others to Watch: Paige Burrell, Jr., diving; Caroline Dunigan, So., sprint; Maddie Freece, So., diving, Katelyn Harkrader, Jr., sprint/back; Parker Schulz, Jr., free; Claudia Thamm, Jr., utility; Meghan Wenzel, So., diving.
Coach Faikish says: “Finishing as State Champions in water polo has motivated this team in and out of the pool…The divers, led by coaches Kyle Goldbacher and Kyle Kushner (new father), have set their team up to have another tremendous showing at the PIAA Championships.”
Pennridge
Coach: Jacob Grant (third season).
Last year: District 1-3A sixth place; PIAA-3A 11th place.
Key performers lost: Claire Beno; Sam Vargo.
Key returners: Morgan Scott, Sr., free/; Erin Shema, So., fly; Reese Trauger, Jr., free; Anna Beno, Sr., free.
Outlook for the season: Led by the defending state champ in the 100 and 200 free in Scott, the Rams should once again be a contender in the SOL Continental and make some noise at districts and states.
Plymouth-Whitemarsh
Coach: Carlee Moir (second season).
Last year’s record: 3-5, 3-3 SOL American.
Key performers lost: Hannah McGee (Fordham University); Angelina DiSanto (Lehigh University).
Key returners: Gianna Gross, Sr., free/fly; Alena DiSanto, Sr., IM/fly; Abigail Thomas, Jr., free.
Others to watch: Mia Ruggiero, Fr., all strokes; Julia Fiddler, Sr., 500 free; Meghan Ely, Sr., 100 back; Charley Tulio, Fr., free.
Strengths: Leadership from the upperclassmen. Relatively young team that will continue to improve. Strong in freestyle events and should win multiple events at dual meets.
Question marks: Lacking depth in a few specific events this year, in comparison to last year.
Coach Moir says: “Our goal this season is to improve our dual-meet record and finish within the top three teams of our conference, in addition to getting more swimmers qualifying for the District One Championships. We also anticipate that more of our team records will be broken this season. The leadership of our captains and senior girls, in addition to the hard work our team will be putting in the pool will help achieve these goals.
Souderton Area
Coach: Rob Faccenda (15th season, 1994-2006, 2016 to present).
Last year: District 1-3A 12th place; PIAA-3A 16th place.
Key performers lost: Emily Hodges; Lauren Rutkowski.
Key returners: K.K. Hershey, Sr., free; Alexa Crossgrove, Sr., 200/500 free; Jenny Rogers, Sr., free/fly; Michaela Hershey, Sr., free/breast; Clara Burrell, Jr., utility; Hailey Freed, So., utility.
Outlook for the season: Big Red returns three of the four swimmers on last year’s state-medal medley relay and looks to have a well-rounded squad overall.
Upper Dublin
Coach: Patrick Redican (fifth season).
Last year’s record: 9-1, SOL American Champs; District 1-3A third place; PIAA-3A third place.
Key performers lost: Jenna Johns (Nova Southeatern); Samie Hubbard (University of New Mexico); Shannon Reape (IUP).
Key returners: Rebecca Pendleton, Sr., fly; Saemmi Yoon, Sr., 100/200 free; Abbie Amdor, Jr., 50/100/200 free and breast; Tina Haig, Jr., diving; Liz Medvedev, Jr., 500 free/breast; Kelly Regan, Jr., diving/IM; Lia Wilmoth, Jr., IM/breast; Elle Braun, So., distance free/back; Aly Breslin, So., IM/breast; Laura Pendleton, So., fly/sprint free.
Others to watch: Samara Cheifetz, Sr., back; Jess Marin, So., back; Molly Braun, Fr., sprint free.
Strengths: With 10 district qualifiers and five state qualifiers returning, there is a strong veteran presence on the Lady Cards Swim Team and with 35 athletes on the team, UD should have depth and versatility.
Question marks: Will those swimmers who were close to districts last year develop into qualifiers and can the team find leaders to replace Johns and Hubbard?
Upper Moreland
Coach: Michelle Atkinson.
Last year’s record: 1-10, 0-6 SOL American.
Key returners: Kaylee Hermann, diving; Olivia Pervall, distance; Emily Sanceciz, fly/back; Colleen Davis, fly.
Coach Atkinson says: “This season, the Lady Bears hope to improve their record from last year. We have some great hard-working girls that are up to the challenge this season has. Numbers are always our weakest area.”
Wissahickon
Coach: Laurie Hug (ninth season).
Last year’s record: 10-1, 5-1 SOL American; District 1-3A 15th place; PIAA-3A 24th place.
Key performers lost: Kelly Wild (University of Delaware); Liliana Xu.
Key returners: Carly Zlotnikoff, Jr., free; Karis Kim, So., 200/500 free, 200 IM; Katie Sapozhnikov, So., 100 fly/200 IM/500 free; Maddy Hippensteal, So., 100 breast/IM; Tess Klugerz, So., diving.
Others to watch: Julia Weiss, So., 200/500 free; Lauren Donofrio, So., IM/100 breast; Jaclyn Staub, 200/500 free; Julia Ronca, Fr.; Jillian Garvey, Fr.; Kayla Hartzel, Fr.
Strengths: Distance free.
Question marks: It’s a young team with three quarters of the team being underclassmen.

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