Hampton sending large group of swimmers to WPIAL championships
Saturday, February 25, 2023 | 11:01 AM
The Hampton swim team has stressed the importance of team success throughout the season.
A large group of individuals and relays will lead the Talbots into the WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships Thursday and Friday at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
Hampton had 14 swimmers meet the automatic qualifying standard, including senior Ben Sheets, who once again will swim in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. Sheets, a Division I Queens (N.C.) College commit, placed second in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke at last season’s WPIAL championships. He also medaled in both events at states and was part of the record-setting WPIAL champion 200 medley relay team.
“I’ve put the work in all season so everything should just fall into place,” Sheets said. “Regardless of how I finish, making the state meet would be the biggest priority. It has been a dream of mine to win states.”
Sheets’ twin sisters, Lainey and Libby, will headline the girls team. The freshmen will race in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke, just like their older brother. Senior Ava Mushinsky qualified in the 100 freestyle.
Coach Morgan Zweygardt couldn’t be more excited to see how her swimmers’ hard work and sacrifice have been rewarded.
“It’s a huge number that we’ve never had before,” Zweygardt said. “I’m really excited about the girls this year. They’ve been swimming better than they had in several years. It’s really exciting to take that many kids to WPIALs.”
As one of the senior leaders on the team, Sheets kept his eye on the success of his teammates. One of the swimmers Sheets was pulling for was his senior classmate and fellow leader Ryan Wukitch.
Sheets wanted Wukitch to experience WPIALs for the first time. In a dual meet against Highlands in early February, Wukitch met the automatic qualifying standard in the 200 IM to earn a trip to Trees Pool.
“I really wanted to get first-time WPIAL qualifiers, and we did that. Him getting that time really meant a lot to me, maybe more so than it did for himself. I just see how hard he works, and he’s probably the best leader on the team,” Sheets said. “I want a lot of people to experience what I did my freshman, sophomore and junior years: to compete at the highest level in high school swimming in this area and get a chance to maybe compete at the state meet.”
Rita Khoury, Emma An, Carly Colonna, Adrianna Grimm, Teresa Grimm and Kevyn Fish earned automatic bids in individual events on the girls team.
Chris Belch, Scott Watkins and Zach Sutterlin earned automatic bids in individual events on the boys team.
The boys and girls teams also will have relay teams that will look to compete in the 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley.
Zweygardt has all the trust in her swimmers to go out and perform to the best of their abilities.
“With any swimmer, no matter the age, freshman or senior, they want to do it for the team. They are always going to put pressure on themselves. My job as the coach is to remind them they’ve put in the work and they just need to let it happen,” Zweygardt said.
“I want them to have fun and race and let it play out. I want them to trust the work they’ve put in because they are an incredible, hard-working group of kids. I want them to trust the process and themselves.”
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