Pittston Area’s swimming team has gone through a few changes from the 2012-13 season. And now a push to get back to the top has begun.
On the girls side, Pittston Area brings back some fire power, but also has to deal with the loss of a few really solid swimmers.
Junior Mia Nardone returns and was a silver medal winner at the District 2 Class AA meet a year ago, and she finished fourth in the 200 Individual Medley. She went on to place 30th in at the PIAA championships in the 100 butterfly.
And while Coach Amy Hazlet doesn’t know exactly what event Nardone will compete in come districts, she does know that it can be any event in front of her.
“Mia Nardone will absolutely continue to dominate the district,” Hazlet said. “She’s our most versatile swimmer and can swim in any event and win. She is extremely dedicated to the sport of swimming.
“She’s much stronger this year and she rises to the occasion every time she swims.”
Nardone will be alongside some veteran faces, all who have experience at the District level.
Sophomores Kate Musto, Kassity Roche, Cassie Wilczewski, Adison Hazlet can provide the depth Hazlet is looking for. Roche fared well a year ago in at Districts. She had a top-20 finish in the 200 individual medley and a top-30 spot in the 100 fly.
“They were all solid swimmers for me last year and they improved over the last year,” the coach said. “They love to compete.”
This team is young, but experienced.
“We’re not as strong as we have been in the past, but I’m hoping my new swimmers will step up into those spots and provide us the depth we had in the past,” Hazlet said. “We’ll have to fight for those positions.”
The Patriots will rely heavily on junior Sierra Williams for their diving, along with junior Lauren Dragon. Williams, who is also a gymnast, had a top-10 finish last season at districts and looks to get back there this season.
“She’s a tremendous gymnast,” Hazlet said. “She really came into her own last year and missed states by a half point. Already this year she is showing those improvements.”
Senior Antoinette Antonacci, Pittston’s No. 1 breaststroker, returns as well. A versatile swimmer that can help the Patriots in many events, including free style and the individual medley. Irene Magdon will also be back for the Patriots.
Pittston’s depth will come from a batch of freshmen looking to make an impression. Arianna Boccardi, Katrina Dillon, Mackenzie Connors, Erin Senese and Jordan Zbegner all have experience in the pool. Hazlet hopes they can take it to the next level.
“They will provide depth for us this year,” Hazlet said. “They are getting more yardage and intensity. A little bit more attention to detail as to starts and turns.”
The Patriots relay teams will take a little bit of a hit this season with the loss of sprinter Tiffany Smith, who is now swimming for Marywood University.
“That’s a huge loss and I’m searching for someone to help us out there,” Hazlet said.
Pittston Area finished 8th overall at Districts. That was with a pair of freshman and three sophomores. This year, the Patriots will ride that experience and try to take it to the next level.
Pittston Area’s boys team, who only compete individually throughout the season, will welcome back a pair of juniors, including the heart and soul of the team both in and out of the water.
Brandon Winters had a sixth-place finish at districts in the 50 freestyle and a fifth-place finish in the 100 backstroke a year ago. Michael Barney, who Hazlet said is improving every day, earned sixth place in the diving.
“(Winters) is the leader of my team,” Hazlet said. “He is the nicest, caring, hardworking kid we have. He takes care of everything for me and the kids really look up to him.”
Winters was voted captain as a sophomore and now as a junior. He will be competing in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, along with the 100 backstroke. He was a medal last year in two events.
Looking to make a district run on the boys side will be senior Scott Sayer, along with first-year sophomores Vince Shea and Eric Fritz.
This is an interesting year for Hazlet. The Patriots have 44 swimmers out of the team this year. Of those 44, 20 of them have never swum competitively before.
She admits that most of her practice is back to square one. However, by the midpoint in the season, she expects some of those swimmers to step up in a key role. She gets a lot of help from her experienced swimmers as well.
The team has only five seniors. But the Patriots have 11 juniors and 11 freshmen. There are 18 sophomores.
“The new kids won’t contribute much right now but toward the end the the season they will,” Hazlet said. “My returning swimmers are awesome and they take the time to help those new kids and it’s a family approach to help the new kids learn how to swim.”