Roster numbers down but excitement remains high for Hampton boys swim season

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Saturday, December 16, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Hampton swimming coach Morgan Zweygardt can count on two hands the number of boys on her roster this season.

Two years removed from winning back-to-back WPIAL Class 2A titles, the Talbots are in rebuilding mode with just nine swimmers. It is the leanest roster in Zweygardt’s eight seasons, and it might not get much better next year.

“We have a small team this year,” Zweygardt said. “This year and next year, we have kind of small classes. But then we have a really big seventh-grade class. It ebbs and flows. … I’m looking to see them all improve and step up where they can.”

The Talbots, who graduated multiple WPIAL medalist and Division I Queens (N.C.) College recruit Ben Sheets, will rely on a trio of PIAA qualifiers, senior Zachary Sutterlin and juniors Chris Belch and Scott Watkins, and a handful of promising freshmen.

“The team is definitely coming together,” Belch said. “We have a lot of new guys on the team, and it looks like they really want to put a good effort forward and make big strides as a team.”

Belch, who last month helped lead the Hampton cross country team to its first PIAA Class 2A title, placed fourth in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 100 backstroke at last year’s WPIAL championships and placed top 12 in the state in both events.

“I definitely want to see how far I can go this season,” Belch said.

Sutterlin, the lone senior on the roster, took eighth in the WPIAL 100 breaststroke last season and joined Belch and freestyler Watkins on the state-qualifying 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

“They’ve been training really hard, so I’m excited to see what they can give us this season,” Zweygardt said of the returning upperclassmen. “(Watkins) has upped his training from years prior, so I’m really excited to see what he can do.”

A pair of freshmen, Connor Sutterlin and Evan Adler, are expected to fill in the final spot on the relays for the Talbots. Sutterlin, Zachary’s younger brother, is a versatile swimmer who competes in the 200 IM, breaststroke and butterfly.

“He really has four strong strokes,” Zweygardt said. “All of his siblings are breaststrokers. That’s his weakest stroke, but it’s still not bad. We’ll have to see where we think he will do really well in the WPIAL.”

Adler handles butterfly, breaststroke and sprint freestyle events.

“He’s just progressively gotten better,” Zweygardt said. “He trains really hard, and he has a beautiful butterfly.”

Another newcomer fresh off the gold-medal cross country season, freshman Josh Wukitch, will be handling double duty as a swimmer and the team’s only diver in the Talbots’ Section 3-2A meets.

“With the team being a bit smaller than it has been in previous years, there are some challenges that come along with that,” Zachary Sutterlin said. “But I still think we can make some things happen. We are all really dedicated and supportive of each other.”

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