We’ve gotten in under the one-week wire with swim previews, which center on the continued growth of Strath Haven as they see to parlay last spring’s states success into sustained excellence. In the paper, I also mulled five questions that remain to be answered this season in Delco.
Below are full team-by-team capsules for everyone competing in Delco:
After finishing second in the Central League last season, there is good news and bad news for Haverford. The bad news is that many of their valued depth swimmers for the dual-meet season graduated. The good news is that the top-line talent is back for another go.
The headliner is undoubtedly Maddie Hart, who finished second in the 100 butterfly at states last year and has four individual medals in two trips to states. She’ll be joined by senior butterflier Emily Wolfe, whose times have steadily progressed over the last three years, and versatile sophomore Ilira Zherka in composing the backbone of what coach Matt Stewart hopes will be two states-worth relays. It’s up to the supporting cast to determine which relays will emerge, whether it’s via a stroke specialist like junior backstroker Tara Ryan or sophomore breaststroker Cassandra Reed, or freestyle relay(s) with sprinter Grace O’Brien.
Radnor’s roster leans toward the younger side this season, but that’s no measure of the talent that first-year coach Garrett Clark has to work with in taking over for the retired Ruth Small.
Senior contributors are few and far between, with sprinter Lucy Fulton and distance specialist Laura Packer flying the flag for the class. But the real strength lies with the underclassmen.
Junior Julia Conrdan and Amanda Davis (as well as diver Nicole Cohen) and sophomores Emily Moyher and Sasha Smolyansky will compose much of what the Raiders hope is a return to states in the relay category. Freshmen Julia Cullen and Grace Wakiyama will also be called upon from the start of their careers.
Garnet Valley has plenty of talent at the top of their lineup, with promising sophomore Jordan Stansfield and fellow district qualifier Skyler Berardi back in the fold. IMer Jenna Buttermore will be one of the key facets of Clark Bickling’s lineups, while freshman Lucy Townend will step right in and contribute. The 1-2 diving punch of Morgan and Ashley Kovatch, both district qualifiers last season, will also serve the Jags well.
Ridley’s top two talents are a pair of state qualifiers in All-Delco Gab Rudy and Kiera Wadsworth. The Green Raiders have swimmers like veteran Sam Schreiber to contribute relay depth, while Kayla Nespoli gives them a valuable weapon the diving board.
Seniors will lead the way for Upper Darby, with the varied specialties of Siobhan McDonough, Tess Leitz and Alex Walters taking center stage for the Royals. Sophomore Madison Weir is a youngster to watch for the Royals.
Penncrest has to replace a very talented senior class that helped them to a four-win season last year. The returnees – led by Mariah Kozub, Brooke Dresden, Becky Cave and Melissa Callahan – will have to step to the fore quickly, while coach Jess Levy is very high on freshmen Lauren Isaacs and Shannon Jackson.
The loss of Seton Hall signee Kylene Ronayne leaves a significant void for Springfield, who’ll have a tough time coping without the states qualifier. The closest they come to compensating is through sophomore Georgia Apostolu, while senior sprinter Jessica Thorpe will be a vital member in the relay reckoning. The Cougars also boast a very solid diver in Leighann Shanahbarger.
Marple Newtown doesn’t have the largest team under first-year coach Sophie Cross. But they have veteran leaders in seniors Marissa Loro and Jamie Dietrich and junior Tara McCloskey that they’ll hope to lean upon.
Episcopal Academy is forced to replace graduated seniors Bernadette Tankle (Colgate) and Emily Rhodes (Cornell), two swimmers with a combined seven All-Delco selections. But the core that remains, which includes two Daily Times swimmers of the year, is impressive.
Junior Sarah Baturka will give the Churchwomen a formidable sprint option, while she and sophomore Emma Seiberlich are a daunting 1-2 punch in backstroke. Seiberlich is coming off a summer in which she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Senior All-Delco McKenzie Street’s versatility will continue to be an asset for the Churchwomen, while Kara Madey is one of the area’s top divers, freshman Maia Golub is a rising talent on the board and Rachael Farmer is a valuable cog for relay depth and sprinting ability. The Churchwomen also benefit from Garnet Valley transfer Nikki Cannon.
Both Notre Dame and Agnes Irwin have young nuclei that took notable steps forward last season. At Notre Dame, Meg Gentile, Claire Casaday, Lexi Mastrangelo and Alyssa Dinh are among the top names.
Agnes Irwin will be led by diver Marin Bloise, a two-time All-Delco, reigning Easterns champion and recent Rutgers commit. In the pool, Margaux Bigelow will be one of the leaders.
Much of last year’s team is gone for Chichester. But behind Caprian Kan and Rachel Lancianese, the Eagles have a solid core in place. Ashley Carpenter, Briana Cronin and Kelsey Fox will be among the contributors.
Sun Valley’s vein of Skwiruts continues, with Madison and Emily flying the family flag on the girls side. Lauren Bondrowski and Catherine Olshefski will also play significant roles for the Vanguards this season.
Though they lose one of the program’s most prolific performers in Caroline Quindlen (Boston College), Archbishop Carroll return a bevy of talent who’ve had the benefit of competing alongside Quindlen in relays at the PIAA Championships the last several seasons. Seniors Olivia Snyder (freestyle) and Stephanie Connor (backstroke) will lead a group that features distance specialist Molly Santoro and IMer Zoie Octaviano.
Sprinter Hanna Blewett, still just a junior, returns to Cardinal O’Hara after a stellar performance at states last season that saw her take home fifth in the 50 free. The core surrounding her includes veterans Amanda Devers and Julia Boyle.
After several years of its swimmers competing independently, Sacred Heart is embarking upon its first season as a team. The leaders in the maiden voyage for the Tigers will be the Seifried sisters, Hannah and Emma. Other important parts include Kristine Shaughnessy, Kellie McIntyre, Alex Dwyer and Maggie McCallen.