Brentwood swim teams gunning for section titles
With three section meets left on the 2014-15 schedule, Brentwood's swim teams are in a good position to end the season with matching section titles — which would be historic.
Especially since some years Brentwood struggles to fill events due to small roster sizes.
Mark Wroblewski, Brentwood's longtime head coach, was hesitant to make any predictions about possible section championships.
He is happy the two teams are competitive, and admitted this year is different.
“As a coach, you see the talent that's coming up,” Wroblewski said. “I thought there was a window of opportunity for us this season.”
With 18 swimmers on both the boys' and girls' teams, Wroblewski has depth in several events this year.
“The kids don't have to jockey for position. They know their pecking order,” he said. “We work to achieve better times and on getting better every day.”
Brentwood swims against rival South Park tonight, Thursday, in what's always a big section meet.
Wroblewski doesn't want a repeat of last year, when the boys' team lost by four points in the final minutes of the meet — costing the Spartans the section title.
“That was my fault. All I had to do was make one substitution on a relay, and we would have won,” Wroblewski said.
The Brentwood boys are undefeated with a 10-0 overall record, and are 4-0 against section opponents.
The Brentwood girls are 8-2 overall and 4-0 in section competition.
Wroblewski is proud of the Brentwood swim program and the athletes who opt to sacrifice the hours needed to be a part of it. When he talks about the program, it's clear he's gotten to know all his athletes.
Wroblewski is able to describe the strengths and personalities of every swimmer on the 2014-15 roster.
“Swimming is not for everybody. After all, you swim miles and miles and you go nowhere. You end up right in the pool where you started,” he said.
Wroblewski and his staff try to make practices fun with “Ice Cream Fridays,” trivia contests during practice, and lots of team activities outside the pool, including frequent team dinners with swimmers and their families.
It seems to be working.
Senior Jacob Staude can't imagine what his high school years would have been like without the Brentwood swim team.
“It's been a huge part of my life,” he said. “The pool has been a great place to be all the time. Coach is a great role model.”
According to Staude, Wroblewski is adept at helping him work through things at daily practices.
And for Staude, all that practice time is paying off, as he is close to qualifying individually for the WPIAL Class AA championships in the 50-yard freestyle event.
“My goal this year was to qualify individually, and I have complete confidence that I'll be there,” Staude said.
All three boys' relays have qualified.
The 200 medley relay unit features Staude, junior Dominic Woods, sophomore Matt Bakowski and senior Mark Tichenor.
The 200 freestyle relayers consist of Staude, Bakowski, Tichenor and junior Nate Johnson.
Staude, Johnson, sophomore Ben Smith and junior Eric Boehm compete in the 400 freestyle relay event.
Bakowski has qualified for WPIALs in the 100 breaststroke, while Tichenor has qualified in the 100 butterfly.
Senior Tyler Jorgenson will make his third consecutive appearance at the WPIAL Class AA diving finals, and will attempt to move on to the PIAA meet for the third time also.
“We may have a WPIAL champion among us,” Wrobleski said.
On the girls' side, senior Shelby Stockline is on the cusp of qualifying in the 100-yard butterfly, and a couple of the relay squads also are closing in on qualifying times.
Senior Sara Frey has been a valued leader for the girls' team this year.
“Sara is probably my motivation for coaching. She's one of the nicest kids,” Wroblewski said. “She's an inspiration, too. She beat leukemia. All of the kids just adore her.”
Other members of the girls' team include seniors Natalie Andrews, Brianna Foscoe, Christine Gerstel, Brianna Gidias, Sydney Luther, Cassidy Nodaros and Madison Shaffer; juniors Alithia Kephalogianis and Sabrina Stockline; sophomores Dana Frey, Melita Karadza, Amanda Vickless and Rosemarie Wilson; plus freshmen Deanna Clark, Nyandeng Deng, Cyrene Kephalogianis and Rachel Milcic.
Rounding out the boys' team are seniors Christopher Bezek, Austin Harmon, Christian Ivers and Justin Mondry; juniors Luke Benedik and Jonathan Karsh; and freshmen Hunter Consolmagno, Grant Davis, Brendan Donnelly and Mason Woods.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.