December 12, 2008

Bloomsburg University 2008-09 Women's Swimming Preview

BLOOMSBURG- The Bloomsburg University women's swimming team enters the 2008-09 season under the leadership of new head coach Stu Marvin. Marvin takes over for legendary coach Dave River when he retired last spring after 23 successful seasons. BU's men's coach for the past five years, R.J Wojtylak, remains on staff as an assistant coach for both teams.

The Huskies have some big shoes to fill as last season's standout, Dianna Smith, has graduated. Allison Reed (Selinsgrove/Selinsgrove), who was expected to be the Huskies top returnee, will miss the season due to injury. The losses have caused Marvin to re-assess the team goals.

"It's a big challenge," said Marvin. "We are doing our best to maintain the level of excellence that Coach Rider set for this program. His teams had NCAA qualifiers nearly every year and we want to continue that tradition. We were counting on having Reed, but we will just have to adjust. I like our talent and I like our future."

Bloomsburg will count on senior captains Sara Hippeli (Quakertown/Quakertown), Liz Tesoro (Quakertown/Quakertown) and Reed to provide leadership for a young squad. "We are counting on them to be strong leaders while also turning in great performances."

Bloomsburg will not be short on numbers though as 26 swimmers will compete on the women's team.

Sprint and Stroke Events

The loss of Reed will hit the Huskies hardest in the sprint events, which will likely be their youngest position. Sophomore Nichole Chinninci (Vineland, NJ/Vineland) looks to build on a strong freshman season and will compete in the 50-free and 100-free. Also contributing in the 50-free and 100-free will be Tesoro and sophomore Laura McNair (Duncansville/Holidaysburg). Freshmen Kathryn Young (Yardley/Pennsburg) and Kelsey Husk (Sellersville/Lansdale Catholic), along with junior Ashley Carsia (Sugarloaf/Hazleton Area) will round out the sprints.

Freshman Sarah Grawe (Stafford, VA/North Stafford) could be the best all-around talent on the team. Grawe took first place against Edinboro in the 200-back and third place in the 100-back earlier this season. She also is the fastest 100 freestyler, can pop a great 50 and will contribute in the 200 IM. Tesoro, sophomore Emily Stiles (Lansdale/North Penn), junior Ashley Carroll (Mohnton/Schuylkill Valley) and senior Stacey Henry (Bessemer/Kennedy Catholic) will factor in the backstroke events as well.

In the butterfly it will be Tesoro and Hippeli controlling the 100, while junior Amy Usciak (Lancaster/Hempfield) will provide experience and sound leadership in the 200. She will get help from sophomores Michelle Wesh (Pittsgrove, NJ/OLMA), and Danielle Wrecsics (Coppersburg/Pallisades) along with junior Katie Leibig (Saylorsburg/Stroudsburg Area).

The breaststroke events will be lead by freshman Brittany McNeil (Oxford/Oxford Area), with the help of junior Kellie Ayres (Gilbertsville/Bowyertown), sophomore Lisa Ferrigno (West Chester/Bishop Shanahan), Wrecsics and freshman Kelly Duggan (Chalfont/Central Bucks West).

Distance and Individual Medley

Hippeli and Miranda Steel (Hillsborough, NJ/ Hillsborough) will lead the Huskies in the distance events. Hippelli finished fifth in the 1650-free and eighth in the 500-free at the PSAC Championships last season. Steel could swim as many as four events for Bloomsburg. "Miranda will be vital to our success as a team. We look to her to score a lot of points for us," said Marvin.

Brianne Globig (New Kensington/Plum) and Emily Stiles (Lansdale/North Penn) will also contribute in the distance events. Stiles finished in the top ten in the 1000-free at least season's PSAC Championships. Grawe, McNeil, Ferrigno, Ayres, Carroll and senior Britnie Spaunhorst (Lake Ariel/Wallenpaupack) will all contribute in the 200-IM. McNeil took first place against Mansfield earlier this season with a time of 2:17.43. Ferrigno, Stiles, Carroll, Wesh, Ayres and Wrecsics will compete in the 400-IM for the Huskies.

Relays

A host of swimmers will make up the relays, from the sprint medley and free, to the tougher 800 free relay. Look for the seniors to carry the heaviest load with the help of some fast freshmen and sophomores. Bloomsburg swept the relay events at the Bloomsburg Relays to kick-off the 2008 campaign.

Outlook

The PSAC will be a tough draw this season. The two conference heavyweights, Clarion and West Chester, look to maintain their dominance. Still, Marvin thinks there is plenty to build on this season. "I think we can certainly be competitive. The top teams in this conference are at such a high level that it makes it tough. We are trying to advance our reputation as a program to the point where we can really challenge those teams," Marvin added. Marvin's experience and approach should produce positive results.

"We finished fifth last season, only 50 points out of fourth," said the first year coach. "However, we lost a lot of points with the graduation of Smith and the injury to Reed. If we can move up to fourth I think that would be a big plus for this program."