Derry swimming teams facing daunting rebuild

Monday, December 18, 2017 | 10:57 PM

After a three-year run that saw it rise among the top teams in the WPIAL, the Derry girls swimming team is rebuilding.

The Trojans lost Allison Brownlee (Delta State) and Danielle Jellison (Clarion) to college programs. Both were WPIAL Class AA individual finalists in two events last season.

In addition, Abby and Ally Pacek chose not to return, Trojans coach Jeff Kelly said.

All four were on two relay teams that earned medals at the WPIAL championship meet.

“We lost (people) not easily replaced,” Kelly said.

Seniors Kelsey Waxter, Courtney Sanderson and Faith and Charity Fannie return from WPIALs.

Freshmen Lauren Angus, Abby Kubiak and Allison Cowan, a diver, show promise.

Senior Riley Watson, a diver, is back on the board after just missing qualifying for WPIALs.

“It's a different atmosphere,” said Waxter, adding she is confident in the squad's ability to adapt.

The Trojans placed fourth at the WPIAL championship last season. They were second and third, respectively, in 2015 and '16.

The Trojans will entertain Indiana, the WPIAL runner-up last season, in their first Section 4-AA meet of the season Jan. 4.

The Trojans boys team suffered a blow when Zach Baum graduated. Baum, the WPIAL record-holder in the 100-yard butterfly, is a freshmen on the St. Vincent men's team.

Seniors Brennan Klimchock and Seth Eaglehouse and sophomores Caleb Rullo and Wesley and Jake Buhite are returning swimmers.

Rullo, Eaglehouse and Wesley Buhite were part of the 200 freestyle relay team that took first place at the WPIAL championship last season.

With fewer than 10 members, the boys team is the smallest Kelly has coached in 25 seasons with the Trojans.

Klimchock is not giving up.

“(We are) working just as hard as usual,” he said.

The Trojans came in eighth at the WPIAL championship a year ago.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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