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Open season for winter athletes

For several WPIAL schools, football, volleyball and soccer are still the main focus of the athletics landscape.

But for most high schools in southwestern Pennsylvania, Friday brought a change from fall to winter: Basketball, wrestling and swimming seasons officially opened with the first day of practice.

“It’s been a while, but I can’t believe it is November already,” Connellsville swim coach Ashley Yelinek said. “I’m excited to get going.”

Yelinek’s main focus in the first few days of practice is getting her athletes acclimated to their surroundings and prepared for the long season ahead.

“Really, a lot of the swimmers have been out of the water for a while, so we just want them to get the feel of the water again,” she said. “We try to go over good techniques so that we can use that when we get into heavier conditioning and training. We can use this time to build a good foundation.”

Patrick Klocek, who is entering his seventh season as Geibel girls basketball coach, knows the beginning of each season brings unique challenges. However, the goals remain the same.

“Expectations don’t change from year to year,” he said. “What we are capable of doing may be different, but where we want to go doesn’t change.”

Conditioning sessions, coupled with the initial practices, help lay the groundwork for the coming year, and Klocek is happy to be back on the court.

“I like going to practice,” Klocek said. “I like it as much as the games.”

Southmoreland wrestling coach Mike May is entering his fourth season. Even though he has done it before, he admitted there are a few butterflies when starting a new season.

“You always get a little anxious because you don’t know what to expect,” he said. “But so far, so good.”

May acknowledged that, for his first time with the Scotties, it appears the team will be able to field a full lineup.

“The first two weeks are about technique and conditioning,” he said. “I hit conditioning pretty hard because you can’t win if you’re not in shape.”

Under WPIAL rules, basketball, wrestling and swimming teams can hold their first scrimmages Nov. 26. The first game date is Dec. 10.


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