As the temperature starts to cool and snow begins to fall, things have started to heat up at the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center. The 2017-2018 Cathedral Prep swimming team has plans to avenge its second place finish to Grove City High School at the PIAA Class AA Championships last year. This year they plan to make history by becoming the first team in school history to capture a state title at Bucknell University, on March 14-17, 2018.
Prep will have rely on a strong senior class this season if they want to take home the crown down in Bucknell. After losing Tony Squeglia, the District 10 Class AA 200 freestyle record holder as well as a three-time state medalist down in Lewisburg last year, and Jacob Schmidt, who swam on both the silver medalist 200 freestyle relay, and fourth place 400 freestyle relay last year.
“Our team this year is built around winning relays and putting as many people into finals as possible,” said head coach Mike Doyle. “We can put multiple people into finals this year at states and pick up a lot of points, something no other team can do.”
A tough schedule lies ahead of the Ramblers. Leading the team into battle this year are seniors Calvin Behm (co-captain), Alec Thomas (co-captain),Thomas Uht (co-captain), Matthew Wegley (co-captain) and Mitch Cizmek. They will compete in two invitationals, the Prestigious Viking Invitational in Cleveland, Ohio and their own, the Cathedral Prep/Villa Maria Christmas Invitational. Their schedule features New York Powerhouse Canisius High School, and a quad meet in Pittsburgh featuring three strong WPIAL programs. Some of their biggest competition though, will come from region rival McDowell High School. McDowell, who swept the District 10 Class AAA Championships last year at the Spire Institute, is expected to give the Ramblers all they can handle. A strong core of seniors, including Ryan Snyder, Austin Intrieri, John Vieira, Jacob Fleming, and Bobby Bolmanski, who all picked up multiple gold medals last season, will lead the Trojans in scoring against Prep.
Returning for the Ramblers this year is a plethora of talent. They return all four members of the state champion 200 yard medley relay team which includes sophomore Ethan Neff, Junior Robbie Maholic, Senior Calvin Behm, and Senior Thomas Uht. In the 200 freestyle senior Alec Thomas who medaled in the event at states last year will be joined by district medalist Mitch Cizmek. The 200 Individual Medley has become a stronghold for the Ramblers as Calvin Behm, JP Stark, and Ethan Neff placed second, third, and fourth in last years district meet. In the 50 freestyle, Thomas Uht is the only returning district medalist from last year but will be joined by some younger talent like Gavin Ferry who placed in the top ten. The 100 butterfly returns three district medalists, Robbie Maholic, Matt Wegley, and Gavin Ferry who placed third, fifth, and sixth respectively. The state runner up 200 freestyle relay returns two members, Alec Thomas and Thomas Uht.
On the second day of competition the Ramblers look for Thomas Uht to set the tone in the first event of the night, the 100 freestyle where he medaled last year. In the 500 freestyle, Alec Thomas won the gold last year and was joined on the podium by Matt Wegley. Freshman Ethan Neff a state medalist in the 100 backstroke returns with Robbie Maholic who grabbed the silver medal at the District 10 meet. The 100 breastroke is another one of the events in which Preps depth can truly shine. JP Stark looks to defend his title and Calvin Behm who placed third last year will be joined by Andrew Campbell, a newcomer who can join them atop the podium this March. In the 400 freestyle relay, Alec Thomas and Thomas Uht are the only returning members, but look to sophomore Ethan Neff and Calvin Behm to fill the missing pieces.