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Highland girls swim program taking off

1/2/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — Head coach Anthony Petruzzi said the Highland High School girls swim program is growing at a nice clip in its second year as a club sport.

“All we did last year was swim in some invitationals,” he said. “This year is the first time that we have four tri-meets in the Suburban League. We will be in the Suburban League championships, and we will be in the Medina County meet and the Cloverleaf Invitational. We’ll also be in the Youngstown meet, which is a small schools meet for teams that are smaller.”

According to the coach, the club has two swimmers back from last season: senior Breanna Stacho and sophomore Katherine Janesch.

Petruzzi said Stacho has made plenty of progress during her second year swimming for the club.

“Bree, who made sectionals and almost made districts last year, hadn’t swam in a while until Highland started up the club team,” the coach said. “She’s a butterflyer and a freestyler, and she’s even better this year than she was last year. She’s real close to what the cuts were for districts in the butterfly last year, because she has trained more during the year.”

Janesch was a beginning swimmer last year, the coach said.

“Katie had just started swimming, and she has improved this year. She has been swimming straight through from September up until now,” he said. “She is a freestyle swimmer. When she started out, she was a beginner and barely even knew the strokes. Now, she can swim in a meet in all four strokes.”

The three new members of the club (with comments on each by the coach) are as follows:

  • Junior Katie Willkom: “Katie is a freestyler and a backstroker. She started swimming just to do something and didn’t realize she would end up on a high school swim team. Now, she’s taking it a lot more seriously. She’s going to all of the practices and improving and dropping her times in both of her strokes.”
  • Sophomore Mallory McCormick: “Mallory is good at everything, but her strengths are probably breaststroke and freestyle.”
  • Freshman Rachel Smith: “Rachel’s a brand new swimmer. She does the freestyle and backstroke. She’s really improving with her times.”

Petruzzi said he expects the Highland girls swim program to start growing at an exponential rate beginning next season.

“Over the last bunch of years, once kids got to about the seventh grade, they quit swimming with the club team and went into other avenues because there was no high school swimming,” he said. “Now, these kids are staying. Next year, I’ll have double digits, and we’ll probably have 12 to 14 kids swimming. The program will really grow.”

The goal, Petruzzi said, is to have enough swimmers on the team to “fill all three relays.”

“Then, we can get more kids to sectionals and get a couple to districts,” he said. “Mallory McCormick and Bree Stacho definitely have shots to make the cut for districts this year, which would be a pretty good accomplishment for only the second year of such a small team.”

The team swims at the Medina Community Recreation Center.

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