YATESVILLE — Replacing two valedictorians and two former District 2 champions were just two challenges the Pittston Area’s swim team faced heading into the 2015-16 season. The other, however, was the fact that the Pittston Area pool was out of commission.
The Patriots hadn’t practiced in the John McHale Aquatic Center all season because of a chemical malfunction. Pittston Area traveled to Wyoming Area to practice, which cut pool time almost in half.
Wednesday, Nov. 25 was the first time the swimmers got in the pool at Pittston Area. Now, it’s time to get to work, coach Amy Hazlet said.
The Patriots will have to replace former district champions Mia Nardone and Brandon Winters. Both Nardone and Winters won their respective 100 backstroke events at last year’s District 2 championships. District 2 diving champion Sierra Williams also graduated.
That doesn’t mean the Patriots are without a strong nucleus of swimmers.
The Patriots will be relying on seniors Adison Hazlet, Kate Musto, Erica Colon and Kassity Roche. Along with Arianna Boccardi and Erin Senese, Pittston Area’s core is solid, coach Hazlet said.
“We don’t have Mia and Brandon to take those guaranteed first places,” she said. “We’ve always had some depth and hopefully our seconds and thirds will take place of those firsts.”
Three out of four swimmers of last year’s school record-breaking 200 medley team are back: Adison Hazlet, Senese and Boccardi. Nardone swam the backstroke portion of the medley and helped break the 27-year school record last season. Hazlet expects that group of swimmers to step up.
“I’m hoping each can drop a little time and someone take Mia’s backstroke time to drop down enough that we come out with the same time,” Hazlet said. “I feel confident in that.”
Adison Hazlet is the team’s top breastroker, while Musto is the top backstroker. Colon is a swimmer that can fill a lot of gaps for the team, along with Roche.
“I see a lot of the sophomores and juniors stepping up,” Hazlet said. “They’ve been working hard in practice and they’ve been more intense, mature and focused.”
Behind Williams in last year’s district diving championship was Abby Norwillo. Norwillo secured a silver last season at the District 2 championships. Norwillo returns to the pool for Pittston Area this season and Hazlet said the sophomore looks better than ever.
The Pittston Area boys will not field a team for the second straight season due to declining numbers. The Patriots only have seven swimmers this season.
Although the Patriots cannot compete as a team, the swimmers can compete individually and work toward a District 2 medal this season.
Seniors Eric Fritz and Nick Petrucci will be leading the individual charge all season long. Fellow senior Vince Shea was hurt during soccer season and is expected to be back late in the year.
Up until last year, Pittston Area competed in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3. For many years, the Patriots were winning championships left and right. Last year, however, a bump up to Division 1 left them facing stiff competition each time they entered the pool.
“I love the fact that we competed at a high level,” Hazlet said. “I think that helped us going into districts. We had to compete any meet.”
The Patriots open the season with a matchup against Holy Redeemer at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8 in Yatesville.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick