Quaker Valley's boys 200 medley attempting to improve on last year's stellar marks
By Nathan Smith
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Having chemistry is one of the most important characteristics of a successful relay team.
Rhet Happel, Matt Noel, Josh Chamberlain and Kyle Hrabovsky had such strong chemistry last year it led to one of the most successful seasons ever by a Quaker Valley relay team.
The squad finished fifth in the 200-yard medley relay at the WPIAL swimming championships with a time of 1:31.44. The Quakers' trip to the PIAA championships at Bucknell ended with an 11th-place finish and a new school record of 1:31.04.
“We were fortunate to have four sprinters,” Hrabovsky said. “Some double-A teams might not be able to have that for a team. We also really like being together. That close bond made us more successful.”
Despite losing Happel to graduation, the three returning swimmers feel this year could be even more successful with the addition of Harry Harkins.
While the freshman has a big role to fill, his teammates and coach praised his skill level and dedication to the sport.
“He is as fast as Matt and Kyle,” Quaker Valley coach Sue Morgan said. “He is a very serious swimmer for his age. A lot of times with athletes they don't develop the habit of being a student of the sport until they are older, but Harry really is despite being a ninth grader.”
And while stepping into the lineup of a successful relay team could be strenuous, Harkins is using it as motivation.
“There is a little pressure,” Harkins said. “But I put that all in the back of my head. It does motivate me a little bit for my races.”
In addition to the new face on the squad, Noel — who hadn't swam outside of the high school team for several years — joined his teammates on the Chartiers Valley Swim Club roster to further his skills in the offseason.
“After we made it to states, I couldn't stop swimming,” Noel said. “I joined the club team with the rest of the guys. I have been working harder to get better. Getting a taste of states motivated me to do well.”
Noel — the boys team's senior caption will start races followed by Hrabovsky and Harkins. The return of Chamberlin, last season's anchor, has the team already ahead of the curve.
“You want your anchor swimmer to be the kind of swimmer who, no matter what the best times are individually, when they get into the relay, they blow that away,” Morgan said. “You want them to go to a whole new level in the relay.”
The next month of meets will be critical for the relay team. Not only are both the boys and girls teams 4-0 entering Section 2-AA competition, but the relay team will begin perfecting all the small things — turns, finishes, starts and getting comfortable with each other. It is now when the relay team will start to peak as it works toward the ultimate goal.
“Our goal is whatever gets us onto the medal stand at states,” Chamberlin said. “If we can get our time under 1:30, we should be able to do that. We would all need to be under 22.5. That is a pretty big goal to strive for.”
Quaker Valley returns to the pool Thursday, as it starts Section 2-AA action with a 4:15 p.m. home meet against West Allegheny.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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