With five straight PIAA boys District 6 Class AA titles, Bellefonte swimming is looking to make it six in 2017.
The losses of state qualifiers Finn Nixdorf and Chance Foster to graduation will make it tough for the Red Raiders, but coach Laura Randazzo is optimistic.
“This season I see the team making great strides,” Randazzo said. “We have a good number of experienced and novice swimmers, so it brings a good balance and sense of camaraderie to the team.”
Returners such as senior Dmitry Wall, juniors Brian Feldman and Zach Malinich, and sophomores Ian Lowery and Zeb Smoyer are ready to fill the gaps. Both Feldman and Lowery were state qualifiers in the 200 medley and 200 free relays. Feldman finished fourth at districts in both the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke and is the second-best returner in both events.
Casey Corso, Ethan Ebeling and Luciano Mazzotta will be three freshmen looking to make an impact in the pool this season.
“I see them all as impactful freshman in that they have all been putting in a lot of hard work and have come a long way in such a short time as both a swimmer and a student-athlete,” Randazzo said. “They all exhibit a drive to improve and utilize the opportunities presented at practice to take the pointers and suggestions given by their coaches and apply them to their sets.”
The Lady Red Raiders will look to make an impact as well.
Leading them will be sophomore captains Zoey Cole and Hannah Thomas. Cole finished fourth last year in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle at the district meet as a freshman.
The 400 free relay team, which finished third at districts, loses only one leg.
However, Bellefonte will not have any new freshmen girls on their this year.
“While we do not have any female freshmen this year,” said Randazzo, “we do have a sophomore who I see is motivated and hardworking and has the drive to improve.”
Other experienced swimmers such as Esther Ebeling, Alyssa Brezler, Caroline Helms, Madeline Hernandez and Clarissa Haak round out the young Bellefonte team that hopes to make a splash this season.
Head coach: Laura Randazzo (second season)
Assistant coaches: Jordan Eccher, Elise Merrill, Matthew Horner, Miranda Fedor
Key losses: Josh Brungart, Finn Nixdorf, Chance Foster, Miranda Fedor, Kaliee Klimeck, Rebecca Harter
Returning letterwinners: Dmitry Wall, Brian Feldman, Zach Malinich, Ian Lowery, Zeb Smoyer, Esther Ebeling, Zoey Cole, Alyssa Brezler, Caroline Helms, Hannah Thomas, Madeline Hernandez, Clarissa Haak