Quaker Valley swimmers prepare for WPIAL championships
Entering the season, some members of the Quaker Valley boys swimming team had a hard time accepting the graduation loss of Bobby Francis, the WPIAL Class AA record holder in the 100-yard breaststroke who competes for the University of Pennsylvania.
But that no longer is a problem as the Quakers head into the WPIAL championship Thursday and Friday at Pitt's Trees Pool.
“The kids found an identity,” coach Sue Morgan said. “They realize they're good on their own.”
With seven swimmers qualifying, Morgan looks for a young, but experienced, Quaker Valley team to do better than expected at the WPIAL championship, where it finished eighth a year ago.
“Many of our swimmers already have been at WPIALs,” she said.
Competing will be sophomore Fritz Wiltman (100-yard breaststroke), freshman Evan Ragoowansi (200 individual medley), junior Matt Noel (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke), senior Rhet Happel (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle), sophomore Griffin Nincke (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle), freshman Kyle Hrabovsky (200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) and sophomore Josh Chamberlain (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle).
Besides individual qualifiers, junior Robert Cary will swim in the 200 medley relay, with sophomore Alex Comerci named a relay alternate.
Morgan expects the Quakers to be especially solid in relay events, a prospect that pleases Chamberlain, who will compete in two of the three.
“We'd like to take a bus full of people to states,” he said.
Top finishers at the WPIAL meet will advance to the PIAA championship next month at Bucknell University.
Morgan was encouraged by the squad's strong showing at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship, where the Quakers finished second among 15 teams.
The Quaker Valley girls team also is feeling better about itself than it did earlier.
After a sluggish start, five girls qualified for the WPIAL championship, including two in diving.
Senior Sarah Francis (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle), junior Alexis Glenn (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly) and sophomore Kathryn Wroblewski (100 backstroke) will swim in individual events.
Senior Haley Ashner and junior Olivia Ragoowansi competed at the WPIAL diving championship last week. Ashner finished seventh with a score of 304.95 and qualified for the PIAA meet March 13-14 at Bucknell.
“We're coming along as expected,” said Sarah Francis, Bobby's sister.
Olivia Ragoowansi, senior Aubrey Gedeon and sophomore Julia Poppenberg earned three of the four berths on the 200 medley relay team.
Senior Lauren Gedeon is the only swimmer named so far to the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
Sophomore Molly Harkins is a relay alternate.
The girls finished sixth at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.