Hampton swimmers to bring competitive fire to WPIAL meet

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Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Swimmers by their nature are super competitive, both in practice when challenging teammates and at meets against other schools.

The Hampton swim team has added another outlet in which to stoke that competitive fire — the video game Fortnite.

“Before the high school season would start, we would play three nights a week,” said sophomore Lainey Sheets. “It’s just something I think is cool. It’s just another way for us to hang out and relax. We’re fiercely competitive.”

The Talbots will look to continue that competitive fire as they prepare for the WPIAL swimming championships Feb. 29 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

“I’ve had hard workers in the past, but as a whole, this is the hardest working group of kids I’ve ever had,” said coach Morgan Zweygardt. “They’re ready to see what the hard work is going to bring them here at the end of the year. They’re excited.”

The girls team finished 9-4 overall and 6-1 in Section 3-2A, while the boys were 7-5-1 overall and 5-2 in the section.

Speed and skill are not lacking on this talented Hampton roster that includes one of the best young swimmers in Sheets.

She came into the season holding school records in the 100 backstroke (56.05) and the 200 IM (2:06.08). She broke two more records with a 1:57.63 in the 100 butterfly and a 1:54.24 in the 200 free.

“She’s really competitive. She always expects better of herself. She doesn’t want anything to go wrong and she always wants to do everything as right as possible,” said Zweygardt.

After placing second in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 IM at last year’s WPIAL meet, Sheets can’t wait to see if she can top those results.

“I put a lot of expectations on myself,” said Sheets. “My parents wish I didn’t get as worked up about things, but that’s just who I am. It’s just my nature to be super competitive. Sometimes it works in my favor, other times it doesn’t, but I think it’s a good thing to have.”

She will compete in the 100 back, the 200 IM, the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay at WPIALs this year.

Joining Sheets at WPIALs will be her twin sister Libby and juniors Kevyn Fish and Maya Daugherty.

“We had all season to prepare. I think we’re ready,” said Sheets. “We’re focused. Everyone works extremely hard. I have no doubt that we’ll get there and perform.”

Both Sheets sisters, Fish and Daugherty will look to best their sixth-place finish from last year in the 400 free relay and qualify once again for the PIAAs, as well as attempt a repeat or better of their fifth-place finish in the 200 medley relay.

“Position wise in the 400 relay, we’re still working out the order,” said Fish. “We’ve tried it a couple of ways this year still haven’t locked it in yet. I’m sure coach Morgan will set an order that strengthens the overall group.”

On the boys side of things, the team did very well despite having only nine swimmers.

“Everyone stepped up and did everything they could. We had some boys who didn’t qualify last year who have completely stepped up and filled the holes we needed. I’m insanely proud of them,” said Zweygardt.

“We put in a lot of work this season. There are some things we just can’t make happen, but we still put in the work and give it our all,” said Zach Sutterlin, the only senior on the boys team.

“I think we’re in a good spot to have some good times and placements at WPIALs,” he added.

Sutterlin will swim in the 100 breast and all three of the boys relays (200 medley, 200 free and 400 free).

Juniors Chris Belch and Scott Watkins join Sutterlin as the returning trio of PIAA qualifying swimmers for Hampton that will look for a great showing at WPIALs.

“We still have a lot of older guys who are coming back with WPIAL experience, but we also have a lot of younger swimmers who qualified for the first time,” said Belch.

Belch will be swimming in the 100 back and 100 fly where he finished fifth and fourth, respectively, last year.

Hampton’s competition in the WPIAL 2A championships is some of the stiffest.

Mt. Pleasant has some really talented swimmers and Kiski will definitely be tough,” said Zweygardt. “I think Freeport is also very talented. Northgate can’t be discounted, neither can Indiana.”

The Talbots are not so much concerned with their opposition, but are focused more on what they can do to be successful.

“They need to keep their eyes on their goals and embrace everything else that’s coming up,” said Zweygardt. “It can be stressful, but they just need to have confidence in what they’ve done and what they’re doing and everything should fall into place.”

And as long as they keep that competitive fire burning within them both in and out of the pool, the competition may be the ones feeling the burn.

“It’s going to be tough and you never know what can happen,” said Sheets. “But I always love a good competition.”

Hampton qualifiers

Here is a list of events Hampton swimmers have qualified for the WPIAL meet in.

Girls

200 medley relay (Libby Sheets, Maya Daugherty, Lainey Sheets, Kevyn Fish)

200 free relay (Maddy Bruce, Sofia Welsh, Daniela Khoury, Carl Colonna)

400 free relay (Lainey Sheets, Kevyn Fish, Libby Sheets, Maya Daugherty)

Lainey Sheets (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 IM)

Kevyn Fish (100 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 200 IM)

Libby Sheets (100 back, 200 free, 200 IM)

Carly Colonna (100 fly, 200 IM, 500 free)

Maya Daugherty (100 breast, 200 IM)

Daniela Khoury (200 IM)

Sofia Welsh (100 back)

Boys

200 medley relay (Chris Belch, Zach Sutterlin, Connor Sutterlin, Scott Watkins)

200 free relay (Zach Sutterlin, Wil Cramer, Evan Adler, Sebastian Villalba)

400 free relay (Chris Belch, Connor Sutterlin, Zach Sutterlin, Scott Watkins)

Chris Belch (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, 200 IM)

Connor Sutterlin (100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 IM)

Wil Cramer (100 breast, 100 fly, 100 free, 200 free, 200 IM)

Scott Watkins (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 200 IM)

Zach Sutterlin (100 breast, 200 IM)

Evan Adler (100 fly)

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