The Franklin Regional boys swimming team looks strong, while the girls face a season without their top returning performer.
Senior Abbie Ramey, a Cleveland State recruit, decided not to compete after finishing fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 100 breaststroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championship meet last season. She was on two relay teams that placed in the top five.
Seniors Laura DiNunzio and Baylee Horvath are among returning swimmers.
DiNunzio placed in two events individually and in the 400 freestyle relay that was fifth, and Horvath earned a bronze medal in the 200 freestyle relay.
“I am looking forward to a great season,” DiNunzio said. “(We) will support each other at every meet and work hard.
“We have an amazing coaching staff.”
Junior Evelyn Siler, sophomore Ava Spinola and senior divers Julia Perry and Elissa Novelli competed at WPIALs.
Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro said the Panthers have a nice freshman class.
The boys welcome back seniors Patrick Cavanaugh (eighth in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke) and Mason Fishell (eighth in 1-meter diving).
Other returning swimmers are seniors Axel Schon and Aidan Spinola; juniors Drew Harris, Marshall Mao, Eli Holm and Jacob Bailey; and sophomores Anthony Piraino and Max Wang.
Cavanaugh and Holm were part of the 400 freestyle relay that placed eighth.
“(We have) very solid depth,” said Santoro, who also guides the boys.
Cavanaugh said the goal is to get a few relays to states. Cavanaugh was the only Panther to qualify for the PIAA championship last season.
Fishell, who also swims, looks beyond the clock.
“While I have big goals that I expect our boys to reach athletically, I have a big goal for our team to be as close as we can and enjoy the season as much as we can,” he said. “I love this team (and) want (it) to be the (closest) team in the state, even if we’re not the fastest.”
Both squads are slated to kick off the season Dec. 11 in nonsection action at Kiski Area. Their Section 3-AAA openers are Jan. 3 at Shaler.
The girls placed sixth and the boys 11th in the WPIAL last season.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.