Quaker Valley swimmers hitting peak as WPIAL meet approaches

Sunday, February 13, 2022 | 11:01 AM

The Quaker Valley girls swim team opened the 2021-22 season with a nonsection loss at Northgate. Since then, the Quakers won six of seven meets to go to 6-2 overall.

“The season has gone well and we are happy with where the teams are at right now,” coach John Nemeth said. “Like every other team, covid has affected us throughout the season, but the kids have continued to train and race hard which is all we can ask for.

“The girls were coming off a WPIAL runner-up finish last year, so there was some pressure on them to perform and they’ve stepped up.”

QV sophomore Emily Connors has achieved WPIAL qualifying cut times in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle events and 100 butterfly. She broke her own school record in the butterfly event with a 57.76 time at the recent MAC swim championships.

“Emily has been such a tough swimmer for us this year,” said Nemeth, who is assisted by Rose Stidsen (swimming) and Vernon Yenik (diving). “She’s racing well and steps up anytime we need her to.”

Connors swam a leg on QV’s record-setting 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays last season.

She placed third in the 100 butterfly (58.96) and fifth in the 100 freestyle (53.55) at last year’s WPIAL meet and landed at-large bids to the state finals where she corralled ninth place in the 100 fly.

This year, Connors has paced the girls squad in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 backstroke, 100 fly and 200 IM, and is aiming for a strong finish to her sophomore season.

“My swim season is going pretty well,” Connors said. “Our girls team is doing well also. A lot of the girls dropped times at the Moon meet.

“I have been focusing on the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly. Margaret (Getty), Paige (Juliano) and I are all qualified for WPIALs, as well as the girls 200 medley relay.”

Getty and Juliano, both freshmen, have achieved A cut times in the 500 freestyle.

“Margaret and Paige have contributed across the board for us in their first year on the team,” Nemeth said. “Both girls should find their way onto one or two relays as well as individual events at WPIALs.”

Along with the 500 free, Getty is the team’s top competitor in the 50 backstroke.

“I would say my main goal this year was originally to qualify for WPIALs and I achieved that,” she said. “Now, I hope to keep dropping time and do the very best that I can.

“I think the girls team has done an amazing job. I feel every girl on the team has been swimming to the best of their abilities even though covid has given us a few setbacks. We have been working so hard and it’s definitely been paying off.”

Getty started swimming as a youngster during the summer months at the Woodland pool. From there, she went on to swim in the winter at the YMCA for the Sewickley Sea Dragons. She currently is a member of Steel City Aquatics for USA Swimming.

While the 500 free is her best event, Getty, who participates in chorus and band at QV, also sparkles in the water in the 100 fly, 200 free and 200 IM.

“The QVSA team has been so welcoming and kind to me,” she said. “Coach John and Coach Rose have been so amazing in supporting me to do my best and to work hard. It has definitely been an amazing first year on the team and I can’t wait for the next three.”

Two other team leaders for the Quakers, who stood at 4-1 in Section 2-2A, are junior Ella Fuener and senior Amanda Kerrish.

“Ella is another one who is racing well,” Nemeth said, “but we’ve been excited about how hard she is training; it’ll pay off down the road. Amanda is our only senior and didn’t swim last year, but she’s been such a good addition. She works hard and does everything we ask.”

QV was the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up last season and won WPIAL titles in the 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Fuener, Connors and sophomore Rena Gilligan competed in the 200 medley relay. Fuener and Connors also were 400 freestyle participants.

Other top freshman swimmers on the squad this year include Kwilai Karto, Louisa Webster and Mia Fusco.

“Kwilai has shown massive improvements as a freshman,” Nemeth said, “especially in the sprint free. She is (ranked as) the No. 4 girl in the 50 now.”

Three of the team’s diving specialists, Ruby Oliffe, Ruby Krotine and Katie Blackmer, have clinched berths in the WPIAL meet. Oliffe and Krotine are freshmen; Blackmer is a sophomore.

Gia Kuyler, another freshman diver, is hoping to make an impact before the end of the season.

Under WPIAL guidelines, Quaker Valley provides cooperative sponsorship with Sewickley Academy in swimming and diving.

Sewickley Academy swims with us,” Nemeth said. “We have a cooperative partnership with them since neither of us have our own facility.”

Connors believes it is great that two small swim squads are able to compete as one team.

“The WPIAL recognizes it as a cooperative team between Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy,” she said. “Both schools are in the Sewickley zip code and neither school has a home pool.”

A small group of Sewickley Academy students have joined the QV swimmers and divers. The QVSA athletes practice and compete at the Sewickley Valley YMCA.

Kerrish and junior Kaitlyn Hayden from SA are members of the girls team.

There is a handful of athletes from SA on the boys team, including juniors Ashton Ragoowansi and John Shillingsburg, sophomore Wesley Riddle and freshman Jonathan Cheng.

Quaker Valley’s boys team was 4-4 overall and 3-2 in section action at the beginning of February.

“The boys have made huge strides since last year which has been great,” Nemeth said.

Two of the Quakers’ leading swimmers are Alex Wagner, a versatile junior and WPIAL qualifier a year ago, and Ragoowansi.

“Alex continues to be a guy we can put into a variety of events,” Nemeth said. “He has four strong strokes and his freestyle has looked great this year.

“Ashton is such a great competitor and he continues to improve.”

Two top freshman prospects are Ryan Steinfurth and Thomas Fuener.

“Ryan and Thomas have contributed since the start of the season in a variety of events,” Nemeth said.

Steinforth is strongest in the 500 free and the two backstroke events. Fuener is a freestyle and butterfly competitor.

Sophomore Wes Riddle also has been consistent in the freestyle events.

“Wes has really improved in the sprint free this year,” Nemeth said. “He is a strong competitor and really wants to improve.”

Spencer Wiehe, a junior, hopes to qualify for WPIALs in any of several events, including the 200 and 500 free, 50 and 100 back or the 100 fly.

SWIM NOTES: The QVSA girls team, with 353 total points, took first place at the MAC swim championships held in early February at West Allegheny High School.

All three QVSA relay units finished first and achieved A cut times.

In individual highlights, Connors won the 100 fly while Gilligan placed second in the 100 breast and third in the 200 IM.

Krotine and Blackmer finished first and third in the diving competition.

The QVSA boys team secured sixth place at the MAC event with 187 total points.

The 200 medley and 400 freestyle relayers both placed third while Fuener ended up second in the 100 fly and third in the 200 free.


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