After making history last season, Chartiers Valley girls swim team has new cast of characters

Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM

After capturing its first section title in program history last season, the Chartiers Valley girls swimming program is looking to defend its title with a different cast of swimmers.

Last season, the Colts finished first in Section 1-2A and finished tied for 22nd place in the WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships led by then-sophomore Janelle King.

King placed 10th in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke at the WPIAL championship. King qualified for the PIAA Class 2A meet, where she placed 22nd.

However, coach Morgan Soulia isn’t sure King will be swimming this season.

The second-year coach will turn to sophomore Jaylynn Welch to possibly be the next Colt to qualify for the WPIAL meet. Last season, Welch was less than a second off the 50 and 100 free and 100 breast WPIAL qualifying times in her first year of swimming.

Soulia hopes Welch continues to work hard as she progresses toward qualifying for the WPIAL meet in her second season.

“There has not been enough time in the season nor a meet to make a prediction like this; however, Jaylynn works hard, is motivated and has lofty goals, so I am sure her hard work will come to fruition,” Soulia said.

Last season, the girls 200 freestyle relay team that consisted of King, Welch, Grace Sothergill and Ashley Thiel finished 12th with a time of 1:45.82 at the WPIAL meet. Sothergill and Thiel have returned for their senior seasons.

“We have a completely different set of girls on our team from last year, so while obviously it is our goal to achieve section champs, our girls need to just stay focused on the work, work hard even when the work isn’t hard, trust the process, have fun and love and support each other well, and hopefully that will bring us another section title,” Soulia said.

The girls team will compete in a section that includes Carlynton, Cornell, Keystone Oaks, Montour, Seton LaSalle and the Ellis School.

On the boys side, Soulia is excited to see what Dawson Lee can do in the pool. Lee recently moved from South Korea.

Soulia, a North Allegheny graduate, helped the Tigers to four WPIAL championships and three runner-up finishes in the PIAA championships before moving on to swim Division I at Richmond.

In her second season, Soulia is now used to all the responsibilities related to being a coach and is more prepared going forward.

“Not so much on the swimming side of things, but more so on the logistical learning the ropes kind of takeaways,” she said. “A lot of things happen behind the scenes that I wouldn’t be able to do without my assistant, boosters or parent helpers, so it was a long year of trying to figure all of that out.”

The Colts will start their season when they travel to Trinity on Dec. 7.

“My outlook and level of expectation is that we just continue to grow stronger and faster. We have a lot of goals, team and individuals, so I am hoping and expecting everyone to be focused on and working towards those goals,” Soulia said. “If everyone works hard and does their part of the hard work, everything else will come together the way it is supposed to.”


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