By Lisa Byers
One of the main objectives for Meadville in its swim meets against McDowell, Villa Maria and Cathedral Prep is to get an idea of where each individual swimmer stands against some of District 10’s elite prior to championship season.
But on Thursday night, the focus was more on individual progress, particularly for a large group of first-year swimmers that head coach Pete Coppelli hopes will have an impact on the Bulldogs for the next several years. Already, those swimmers are showing a great mark of improvement.
Sophomore Evan Vanyo is a prime example.
Vanyo, prior to this season, had never swam competitively, and admits to pretty much limiting himself to the doggie paddle recreationally. In the first competitive meet of his life, which came against Mercyhurst Prep on Dec. 12, Vanyo swam the 100 butterfly, then the 500 freestyle, followed by a leg in the 200 freestyle relay.
“In his first meet,” Coppelli said. “That would scare even the experienced swimmer to do that. I asked him, ‘You must have swum elsewhere before.’ He said, ‘No. I just learned this year at practice.’”
Against Cathedral Prep last night, Vanyo swam a leg in the 200 medley relay, the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. He swam two of those events on Tuesday against McDowell and dropped time considerably since then.
Vanyo finished the IM in 3:16.80 against McDowell. Against the Ramblers, he hit the wall at 3:11.70. He dropped five seconds off his time in the 100 butterfly as well.
“Coach (Don) Erdley has been working with the newer swimmers,” Coppelli said. “He had them over at the shallow end and taught them all the basic drills and progressed them up to a little more challenging drills. And they are looking really good. It’s fun.”
Meadville has a total of 10 first-year swimmers with relatively no swimming experience in addition to a number of freshmen who have come up through the Meadville YMCA swim program. And each and every one of those 10 first-year swimmers that Coppelli pulled from the pool following the Bulldogs’ dual meet against Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex’s George J. Barco Aquatic Center are excited about their new endeavors and very much looking forward to their futures with the Meadville swim program.
“We’re doing pretty good,” said Kelsey Gill, a junior from Cochranton Junior/Senior High School. “We’re going up against the best schools and it makes us push ourselves even harder. We’ve become more competitive and practices are really helping out with our swimming.
“I know I have gotten a lot better, and I can probably speak for the whole team that we have gotten better.”
“I know I have and I hope I can continue getting better and better,” freshman Charles Tate said.
The young Bulldogs did suffer another setback last night.
Cathedral Prep won the boys meet 143-40, while Villa Maria took the girls meet 118-65. Individually, though, Meadville did have some great performances.
The Meadville girls won five events. Mackenzie Webber was part of three of those victories. She won the 50 yard freestyle (25.29) and 100 yard freestyle (57.64) and was part of the Bulldogs’ winning 200 yard freestyle relay team (1:46.42).
Alysha Kelyman took first in the 200 yard IM (2:32.46) and Maggie Murphree won the 100 yard breaststroke (1:12.78).
In a matchup of returning District 10 medalists in the 100 yard freestyle, defending Class AAA champion Heather Sternby (1:05.79) finished second to Class AA fourth-place finishers Abby Quinn (1:03.69).
On the boys side, Kerwin Moreland had a second and third place finish to lead the Bulldogs. He placed second in the 200 yard freestyle (1:56.09) and third in the 500 yard freestyle (5:21.85).