Carlynton swimmers eye another section title with Chartiers Valley in pursuit
Friday, December 20, 2019 | 7:09 PM
The Carlynton swimming team entered the season having won three consecutive section titles for boys and girls. Chartiers Valley is seen as the team most likely to challenge the Cougars, particularly on the girls side.
A look at each team:
The Cougars, who co-op with Bishop Canevin, seem to be well-positioned to defend their section titles and, perhaps, do it again next season. The strength for both teams is in their junior classes.
Three boys — all juniors — who qualified for the WPIAL championships return for coach Mike Schneiderlochner: Jack Mickle, Carson Gaitens and Evan Walker. Gaitens and Walker were part of the qualifying 200 medley relay team, and Gaitens and Mickle were on the qualifying 400 relay.
Individually, Mickle qualified in the 100 and 200 free, and Walker qualified in the 100 fly.
“They are a year older and a year stronger,” Schneiderlochner said. “Hopefully, they get that much faster. They have to replace the boys we lost (to graduation), so there’s a little more pressure on them.”
Senior Nick Hunter didn’t qualify for WPIALs last season, but he is expected to step in and fill the void left by some of the graduated swimmers. Sam Nicolella, another junior, is a first-year swimmer, but Schneiderlochner believes he can contribute in the freestyle events and butterfly.
Junior twins Garrett and Gavin Nolf will help fill in some of the holes in the distance events as well as swim butterfly and backstroke.
Freshman Sam Moose will bolster the sprint freestyle events. Moose attends Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, but because the Leopards don’t have a swimming team, he is eligible to swim for his home district.
Carlynton’s girls are led by the strong junior trio of Natali Lutsiv, Sara MacMurdo and Gina Ulizzi. Lutsiv and MacMurdo were part of the 200 free relay that placed fifth in the WPIAL, and all three girls qualified in individual events.
Lutsiv is the team’s most versatile athlete.
“We really use her to swim against whoever the other team’s strongest swimmer is,” Schneiderlochner said.
Others expected to contribute are Sarah Barron, Mary Duffy, Sarah Pallus, Libby Hitchings and Ava Gaitens. Hitchings and Gaitens are freshmen.
The Colts boys team has only four athletes, but three have WPIAL experience: juniors Erik Tagg, Chris Sherman and Brendan Nangle. Tagg finished 17th in the 500 freestyle at WPIALs last winter.
Adam Fleming is the fourth member of the team, and coach John Nemeth said Fleming “has made a ton of progress.”
The girls team is better positioned from a numbers standpoint, but three experienced swimmers decided not return this season. That leaves uncertainty as to how seriously they can challenge Carlynton.
“It’s been kind of a goofy year,” Nemeth said, “but I think we still can contend in the section.”
Grace Janas is the leading returning performer for the girls. The junior earned a medal at the WPIAL meet by placing sixth in the 500 freestyle.
Seniors Natalia Santilli and Mia Welsh were part of relays that qualified for the 2019 WPIAL meet.
Nemeth said he has five freshmen this season and is going to get another large freshman contingent next season. The Colts might face challenges this season, but Nemeth is hoping the incoming freshmen can help the program finally turn the corner.
“We just want to keep building on that,” he said. “It has been a slow progress just building the program up, and we hope to take a step forward this year.”
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