Central Mountain High School swimming ready to kick-off new season
By SHAREIK FLOWERS
MILL HALL — Central Mountain swimming had the quite the season last year.
The girls squad went 14-2, while the boys team went 6-7, but the lack of depth contributed to some of their struggles.
This year, the Wildcats look to improve from last season and has its eyes set on capturing a district championship.
Central Mountain began preparing for the 2017-18 year with a host of its swimmers participating in a preseason clinic– which extended from September until the week before Halloween. After a week-long break, the swimmers began their YMCA age-group season before the PIAA preseason commenced on November 15.
Outside of the pool, members have put in hours in the weight room.
“A lot of them have been lifting, and they’ve been working out with some trainers from different places,” CM co-coach Carol Matheney said. “When they lift, they concentrate on heavy [weights], but less repetition. During the season, they do light weight with a lot of repetition.”
Swimming is an exhausting sport on the body, causing many athletes to suffer shoulder injuries.
Because of this, Matheney is taking the necessary precautions to prevent injuries on the team.
Central Mountain’s drills are designed to keep the swimmers’ body movement more efficient, and the team is focused on not exhorting excess strength in its warmups.
“We’ve been on them with very intricate drills, and they’ve been really good at doing them,” Matheney said. “They really bought into the program.”
Central Mountain enters the new season with experience on the roster as they retained 15 letter-winners.
Highlights among that group include Olivia McGhee, who competes in the butterfly event.
Mikayla Rich returns after setting the school record in the 100-freestyle (56.4 seconds).
“We’ve never had a girl under a minute with the 100-freestyle,” Matheney said of Rich’s achievement.
Aimee Zimmerman is one of the team’s most rounded swimmers as she competes in multiple strokes.
“She is the total package,” Matheney explained of Zimmerman. “She goes wherever we need her.”
On the boys side, James Riccardo returns. He’s the team record-holder in both the butterfly and backstroke.
The coaching staff expects the girls’ toughest opponents to be Jersey Shore, Bloomsburg and Lewisburg.
The Bulldogs beat the Wildcats handily last year by 32 points.
“They’re going to be a very difficult matchup for us this year,” CM co-coach Jim Merinar said. “Jersey Shore is deeper than what we are, and their best swimmers are probably a little bit better than our best swimmers. It will be a very difficult match.”
On the boys side, Merinar believes the Wildcats’ veteranship should boost them to a win over the Bulldogs.
“We’re deeper than they are,” he said.” Our best swimmers are probably a little more experienced than theirs are.”
Along with the Bulldogs, Central Mountain’s other rival is Bellefonte. CM hosts the Red Raiders February 7, and the coaching staff anticipates both the boys and girls team to sweep Bellefonte like they did last year.
WHO’S UP FIRST?
Central Mountain opens the regular season on the road December 12 against the Danville Ironmen.
Both coaches expect a tough matchup.
“Danville comes from an area with an amazing amount of youth swimming,” Merinar said. “Their kids will be experienced, good and tough to beat.”
The girls team defeated Danville last season while the boys dropped the match.
“We’d be pleased to win the girls again, and hopefully win the boys [competition],” Merinar said. “But it’s going to take a team effort with nobody slacking off. I hope we’re ready.”
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN SWIMMING STAFF AND TEAM
Coaches: Carol Matheney and Jim Merinar.
Team Captains: Olivia McGhee, Rachel Marek, Ian Sproat and Jordy Sheets.
Returning Letter-Winners: Kelsie Buckwalter, Aimee Zimmerman, Jordy Sheets, Ian Sproat, Lizzie Bottorf, Mikayla Rich, Derek Hughes, Avery Mahoney, Shae Cole, Olivia McGhee, Rachel Marek, Leilani Smith, Emma Persun, David Orndof and James Riccardo.
Seniors: Kelsie Buckwalter, Rachel Marek, Olivia McGhee, Leilani Smith and Aimee Zimmerman,
Juniors: Lizzie Bottorf, Avery Mahoney, Elliot Nesbitt, Emma Persun and Alayna Rousey.
Sophomores: Heidi Emel, Mikayla Rich and Kaylee Weaver.
Freshmen: Morgan Bran, Callie Condo, Caitlyn Dale, McKenna Fox and Evie Rembold.
Seniors: Raahi Chapla, Shae Cole, Jordy Sheets and Ian Sproat.
Juniors: Vinnie Kopysciansky, David Orndorf and James Riccardo.
Sophomores: Derek Hughes.
Freshmen: Gunner Markart and Parker Orndorf