The Class of 2013 ruled the pool last year.
Plenty of new faces will look to become District 2-4 Class 3A Regional champions Friday and Saturday after a changing of the tide cleansed the field of the majority of last year’s boys swimming champions.
Look at the numbers:
• Of last year’s nine individual winners, only three — Wyoming Valley West’s Ed Zawatski (50 free, 100 free); Delaware Valley’s Collin Deans (500 free) — return to the Wyoming Valley CYC pool to reclaim their titles this weekend.
• Of each of those six races won by a graduating senior, the second-place finish was also a senior.
• In four of those six, the bronze medal winner graduated.
• Each winning relay team consisted of three seniors.
The Class 3A boys and girls will be looking for one automatic qualifying spot to the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 12-15 at Bucknell University. Competition for the first six events begins Friday at 6 p.m. in the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre. The final five events resume on Saturday at the same time.
Despite only six competing 3A schools for the second consecutive year, the race for a regional championship is an open field once again.
Wyoming Valley Conference South Division champions Hazleton Area look for its third consecutive regional girls championship. The Cougars tied Abington Heights for a share of the crown in 2012 before winning it outright by 52 points after the Comets dipped down to Class 2A in 2013. Delaware Valley won the WVC North Division with an undefeated record over a good Abington Heights and Valley View team and should be a favorite this year.
On the boys side, Wyoming Valley West looks to be the favorite after coming in fourth place in 2013. The Spartans have a balanced lineup this year that features both youth and experience. Wyoming Valley West comes in the favorite in all three relays races, and multiple relay wins could factor into what would be the Spartans’ first boys regional title in over eight years.
Here are some stories to watch for in the District 2-4 Class 3A Swimming Championships:
Fast Eddie takes a crack at records
Zawatski has pretty much sketched his name into the record books at every venue the past two seasons. He looks to finally take a stab at the elusive regional records he’s been chasing for three seasons.
Zawatski thought he was one-hundreth of a second from breaking the regional 50 free record last year. Only the record time by Misericordia’s Greg Vossler was incorrectly listed. Zawatski’s seed time (20.67) is tied with Delaware Valley Jamie Grennan’s 2008 regional record.
His 46.18 second seed time is 38-hundreths faster than Grennan’s 100 free record, making him a near mortal lock to break it on Saturday.
Greenwald to unseat Deans
The Spartans’ Andrew Greenwald looks to get to the top of the podium in the distance events. Greenwald’s 5:04.04 seed time is 6.17 seconds faster than reigning champ Deans in the 500 free. The 200 free will be trickier for Greenwald, holding less than a second (1:54.8) edge over Williamsport’s Bryan Kavanagh.
A ticket to Lewisburg
Several other area swimmers have a chance at qualifying for Lewisburg. Valley West’s Michael Yeninas and Hazleton Area’s Troy Valkusky trail Deans’ seed time by less than two seconds in the 100 fly. The Spartans’ Llyam McGlynn (58.62) claims a pre-race edge over Williamsport’s Cody Schwoyer (59.26). Yeninas and Delaware Valley’s Fox P. Wihlborg will be neck-and-neck in the 100 breast. Both swimmers come in with one-hundreths of a second separating their seed times.
Three of the fastest girls will all be racing for what is sure to be a photo finish in the 50 free. Delaware Valley’s Aspen Narvarte has the low seed time (25.43). But don’t look past a pair of fast local sprinters. Hazleton Area’s Morgan O’Hara (26.77) and Valley West’s Chelsea Mackiewicz (26.09) have a steady chance. On the line is Wyoming Valley West’s Kristin Stretanski’s 21-year old record of 24.07 seconds.
Tall task for Grego
Hazleton Area sophomore Felicia Grego will have to step up to get to states this year. Grego faces reigning record holder Baileigh Vanderhoof, of Wallenpaupack, in the 200 IM. Grego sits second in the race but trails by less than two seconds. She faces better odds in the 100 fly, where she is 14-hundreths behind Del Val freshman Denali Hutzelman with a 1:01.87. Both have a shot at Morgan Hanadel’s 58.86 second record.
Lightning strikes twice
Last year, Hazleton Area’s Alex Podlesny made the most noise with the biggest upset. Trailing 14.76 seconds on her seed time, she trimmed an incredible 18.74 seconds to upset Scranton’s Erin Kazmierczak in the 500 free. Podlesny looks to do it again, trailing Kazmierczak by a more reasonable 6.93 seconds.