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Returning medalists give Mt. Pleasant swim team hope

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Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant swimmers (front row, from left) Chelsea Jesso and Kyra Lasko and (back row) Olivia Darr and Fallon Nelson hope to help the Vikings produce another successful season.

Mt. Pleasant swim coach Sandy Felice will be assisted by Maggie Dempsey.

The Vikings open the season with a home meet against Norwin on Dec. 7.

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The Mt. Pleasant swim program has worked hard to develop depth and talent, which helps it meet with solid levels of success.

This season should be no exception: Both the girls and boys teams feature a number of proven athletes.

Sandy Felice, who is in the third season of her second stint as Vikings coach — she also coached the team from 1986-92 — knows the team has a lot of potential.

“I did lose seven seniors, but I have a good core group of girls that medaled (at WPIALs) last year, and they are back,” Felice said.

The biggest loss the girls team will have to endure is the departure graduate Alyssa Dombrosky. Dombrosky was a state qualifier in the 200 medley relay last season. She also competed in several relay events, as well as the 100 butterfly.

Fortunately, the Vikings have a number of WPIAL qualifiers returning, including seniors Becky Hontz, Chelsea Jesso and Katlyn Puskar, and juniors Olivia Darr and Kyra Lasko and sophomore Fallon Nelson. All participated in relay events at WPIALs last season, and Nelson made a big splash as a freshman by qualifying for the state meet in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. She finished fifth in both events at WPIALs and set the school record in the 500 freestyle.

“Fallon can do any stroke and anything I ask her to do,” Felice said. “She gets in and does her work. She has some strong goals.”

The girls team will also feature senior Malia Brisbine, who qualified for WPIALs as a diver last season.

A number of freshmen and sophomores with Aqua Club — Mt. Pleasant's feeder program — experience will also add depth to the roster of 20.

With depth and talent in place, goals will be lofty for the Mt. Pleasant girls team.

“We want to win counties,” Felice said, noting the team has won the Class AA title at the Westmoreland County meet in each of the past six seasons. “We'd like to win the section (4-AA) and Indiana is our biggest rival. And we'd like to take a relay team to states.”

The goals also will be high for the boys team, even though the roster is comprised of just 11 swimmers. Lost to graduation is WPIAL qualifier Brandon Springer, but the team has seniors Seth Wright, Ethan Hurst and Dillon Zarycki and junior Dylan Ringer returning. All were WPIAL qualifiers in various relay and individual events last season. Zarycki also made states in the 50 freestyle.

“It's small, but mighty,” Felice said in regards to the boys team. “They didn't place as high in the relays as they wanted (at WPIALs), so it would be nice to see them place and get some medals.”

Leading the way is Zarycki.

“Dillon is a good leader,” Felice said. “He works his butt off. He gets in and does his job.”

For the boys, improving times will be key, which could help them reach some of their other goals. The team finished third in the section last year and second among Class AA teams at the county meet.

“It would be nice to see them win counties,” Felice said.

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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