The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford men’s and women’s swimming team will begin their 2017-18 seasons on Saturday at the Paul C. Duke III Aquatic Center, hosting the Panther Relays.
This event kicks off the five-month season that features 10 different meets and the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championships on Feb. 14-17.
The Panther Relays is a team-oriented meet comprised of only relays and will have mixed-gender events, the only meet of its kind all season.
Among the teams competing will be Penn State-Altoona, Franciscan, Jamestown Community College and Genesee Community College.
“I am extremely excited for this year’s teams,” Head Coach Douglas Alban said of the men’s team. “We have a lot of talent, and a lot of depth in our talent.”
The Panthers welcome many newcomers who will make immediate impacts this season, most notably improving the Panthers’ relay teams.
“Our A-relays are all returning, but we brought in so many fast swimmers, that our A-relays from last year are now our B-relays, and our A-relays are now made up by our newcomers,” Alban said.
Of the team’s five incoming freshmen, Bradford native Jared Schwab, Kersey, Pa., native and Benjamin Koss stand out as top sprinters for Alban’s squad.
“They will join Nicholas Boyd on the shorter relays,” Alban explained. “Those teams will be moving pretty fast. I can see all five of our school relay records going down this year, which is really exciting.”
Kevin Wang and Justin Aharrah are the other two freshmen on the roster.
“Kevin is going to build some depth in breaststroke, and Justin surprises me every day in practice as he’s just a real go-getter,” Alban said.
For long distance events, Alban will look to junior Carey Behm and the versatile Boyd.
“Boyd is a good example of what this team is looking to do,” Alban said. “Everyone is looking toward events they can take on in order to help the team. We have a very unselfish group.”
Devin Kerr and Noah Frederick join Boyd as the sophomores on the roster. Behm, Lucas Cerchiaro and Devyn Condon are the juniors for the Panthers while Corey Koss, Chandler Nickel and Jayden Pire are the team’s three seniors.
“There’s a lot of excitement around every single person on the roster,” Alban concluded. “With our conference going with both A and B relays at the AMCC meet, this team’s depth is going to make it a lot of fun.”
“Our women’s team is hard working and they’re committed to each other,” Alban said. “That’s been our theme at the beginning of the season, and they all surprise me more and more every day.”
Wright finished fifth in the 100-breaststroke with a time of 1:15.94 and fourth in the 200-breaststroke at 2:43.97 at the 2016 AMCC Championships.
“Jillian is coming off a massive year last year,” Alban said. “She saw some huge time drops, and hopefully she can take down some school records this year.”
The team has five newcomers on its roster of six, including three freshmen: Danica Andrews, Britney Ciorra and Lilyth Moreno.
Junior Beyleigh Duda joined the team in the spring last season and Kayla Broad joins the team as a sophomore this season. Both will add some quality depth to the team.
“Just like the rest of the girls, these two are in there every day doing exactly what I ask of them and really working to help this team out,” Alban said.
Despite a small roster size, Alban believes the team’s attitude and work ethic will be enough to carry them through competitions successfully.
“These girls are just so committed to hard work,” Alban concluded. “They’re buying into the program, which is very exciting. It’s what last year’s team did and they saw some huge time drops. They’re excited to be here, and I think they all see the potential in themselves and the team as a whole moving forward.”