Hempfield swim teams rebuilding with talented athletes
The Hempfield boys and girls swim teams are rebuilding, but in a good way, said coach Kevin Clougherty.
“Rebuilding is sometimes associated with inexperienced teams having little or no talent,” he said. “That's not true in our case; we have some good swimmers.”
The boys team lost Eric Long, who finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100 backstroke last year at the WPIAL Class AAA championship. He was sixth in the state in the 200 freestyle.
Long now competes at Pitt.
Sophomore Judson Shiffler leads Hempfield after tying for ninth place in the 100 butterfly at the WPIAL championship.
“With Eric gone, everybody's going to have to step up and produce,” Shiffler said. “I find it challenging.”
Shiffler and senior Chris Swank were on the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that finished eighth in the WPIAL.
Junior Derek Schomer (400 freestyle relay) and senior Brandon Schuerman (200 freestyle relay) also competed.
Juniors Brennan Mauney and Brett Gwynn and senior Jake Kintz swam in the 200 medley relay at the WPIAL championship.
The Hempfield boys team finished 11th in the WPIAL last year.
Junior Amanda Kedzierski is expected to be the top swimmer on the girls team after Jaclyn Fiedor, a WPIAL finalist in the 100 backstroke, graduated.
Clougherty said Kedzierski has improved dramatically since last season, when she qualified for the WPIAL championship in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
“We look for her to have a breakout year,” Clougherty said.
“I'm flattered my coach thinks so highly of me,” Kedzierski said. “I hope I live up to his expectations.”
Kedzierski and senior Gina DeFloria return to a 200 medley relay team that finished eighth in the WPIAL.
Junior Megan Gaza joins Kedzierski and DeFloria in the 400 freestyle relay.
Gaza, junior Courtney Patterson, sophomore Shannon Fyalkowski and senior Lee Weir are on a 200 freestyle relay team that returns intact after competing at the WPIAL championship.
Junior Kalin Marino is being counted on to ease the loss of Clayton Taylor, a WPIAL finalist in 1-meter diving. Marino qualified for the WPIAL diving championship last year.
Freshman Molly Sternick shows promise as a swimmer.
The Hempfield girls team finished 12th in the WPIAL a year ago.
“We want to keep improving and do well in our section,” junior Alaina Geer said.
Hempfield is in Section 1-AAA with Connellsville, Franklin Regional, Kiski, Latrobe, Norwin and Penn Trafford.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.