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Quaker Valley boys swimmers counting on depth to ease graduation loss

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Michael Falcone during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Nick Mesko during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Tanvi Rana during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Isabelle Rougier during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Kelsey Kirby during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Pilar Puyana during swim practice at the Sewickley Valley YMCA Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

The Quaker Valley boys swimming team is counting on depth to ease the graduation loss of Bobby Francis.

The Quakers open the season with a scrimmage Thursday against Pine-Richland at the Sewickley YMCA.

Francis, who now competes at the University of Pennsylvania, swept WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles in the 100-yard breaststroke last season. He set a WPIAL record of 58.44 seconds in winning the WPIAL championship for the second consecutive year.

He also was WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up in the 200 individual medley.

“We may not get as many first-place finishes as we did (with Francis), but we'll have enough swimmers scoring,” coach Sue Morgan said. “It all adds up.”

Sophomore Josh Chamberlain agreed that Quaker Valley should do well.

“Bobby's graduating was a huge loss, but it's not like we're completely rebuilding,” he said.

Chamberlain, who placed 11th in the 200 individual medley, is one of three returnees who qualified for the WPIAL championship. Sophomores Griffin Nincke (200 and 500 freestyles) and Fritz Wiltman (100 breaststroke) are the others.

Chamberlain also qualified in the 100 butterfly.

Senior Rhet Happel and junior Robert Cary qualified for the WPIAL and PIAA championships as members of relay teams.

“We sent a nice contingent to states,” said Morgan, in her third year at Quaker Valley and second as head coach. “Some of our younger boys went as alternates.

“They soaked up the atmosphere and will be ready when they compete on their own.”

Quaker Valley finished eighth in the WPIAL and 18th in the state.

Also competing this season will be Matt Noel, Eric Bergdoll, Ben Haybron, Michael Falcone, Alex Comerci, Guillaume Shippee, Kyle Hrabovsky and Evan Ragoowansi.

Dominic Crivelli shows promise as a first-year diver.

“Lydia Holley, our diving coach, is really pleased with the way Dominic is coming along,” Morgan said. “He's catching on quickly.”

Senior Sarah Francis, Bobby's sister, leads the Quaker Valley girls team, which finished 10th at the WPIAL Class AA championship a year ago.

The QV girls also begin the season Thursday against Pine-Richland.

Sarah Francis qualified for the PIAA championship after finishing eighth in the WPIAL in the 100 freestyle.

“I want to improve individually, as well as be on a relay team that goes to states,” she said.

Junior Alexis Glenn and sophomore Kathryn Wroblewski also return after competing at the WPIAL championship.

Seniors Lauren Gedeon and Aubrey Gedeon and sophomores Julia Poppenberg and Molly Harkins provide depth.

Junior Carly Little is a promising newcomer.

Morgan, who also coaches the girls team, said the squad has several good divers in senior Haley Ashner, junior Olivia Ragoowansi and freshman Becca Kirby.

Ashner and Ragoowansi qualified for the WPIAL championship a year ago.

The Quaker Valley boys and girls teams are cooperatives formed with students from Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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