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Quaker Valley senior swim captain continues to improve

| Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley swimmers and divers are headed to the state championship next week at Bucknell University. They are (back, from left) Josh Chamberlain, Matt Noel, Griffin Nincke, Robert Cary, Kathryn Wroblewski and Harry Harkins and (front, from left) Amelia Besterman, Alexis Glenn, Erin Russoniello and Kyle Hrabovsky.

Matt Noel has come a long way in his third season on the Quaker Valley boys swimming team.

Noel, a senior, will compete individually and on a top-seeded relay at the PIAA Class AA championship meet Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University.

Two years ago, he was just an alternate.

A co-captain, Noel helped lead the Quakers, who were runners-up, to their best finish ever at the WPIAL championship last month.

“I'm a bit of a later bloomer,” said Noel, 17.

A WPIAL finalist, Noel posted his best time in qualifying for the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle (22.38 seconds). He also swims in the 200 freestyle relay seeded sixth on PIAA final psych sheets (1 minute, 29.21 seconds).

Sophomore Kyle Hrabovsky, freshman Harry Harkins and junior Josh Chamberlain also are in the relay, which finished second in the WPIAL.

Noel also swam in the relay when it set a school record at last year's state meet.

Coach Sue Morgan said offseason training has paid off for Noel, who joined the Chartiers Valley Swim Club last spring.

“Matt came out as a sophomore and caught our attention right away,” Morgan said. “He was really strong in the water.

“We felt he had a lot of potential, but he wasn't quite ready to do the work required to meet it. When he had success at the end of (last) season, it piqued his interest a bit more.”

Noel, who wants to be a medical doctor, is undecided about swimming in college. Division III teams are showing interest, he said.

The only senior to qualify for the state meet, Noel leads by example, Morgan said.

“Matt is quiet, although he will not shy away from letting a teammate know when they need to step it up,” Morgan said.

“It's always good having a senior,” said Chamberlain, also a captain.

Senior Alexis Glenn has played a vital role for the girls team, Morgan said.

Glenn anchors the 200 medley relay seeded ninth at the PIAA championship (1:51.20). Junior Kathryn Wroblewski, junior Erin Russoniello and freshman Amelia Besterman also are members.

The relay, which placed second in the WPIAL, set school records three times.

Glenn also qualified individually (100 butterfly).

“Alexis is outgoing and vocal,” Morgan said. “She's always giving 110 percent and expects no less from her teammates.

“She's a good student of her sport and isn't shy about getting on another swimmer about the way they're doing something — or not doing something — in practice.”

Besterman, who holds the school record in the 100 butterfly (59.93), said Glenn has been helpful.

“Having Alexis on my team has pushed me to want to make myself better,” Besterman said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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