Oct. 9 - BETHANY, W. Va. - Larger rosters and a better atmosphere can be used to describe the Bethany men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams since head coach David Dow took over as coach. When Dow started three years ago, the team consisted of seven swimmers as compared to this season where the team boasts a total of 20 between the men’s and women’s sides.
“When I first took over as head coach, our team was small so we were not able to fill out complete lineups at meets, so it made it hard to be as competitive as I thought we could be,” commented Dow. “This year we have 20 swimmers on our team which makes a great atmosphere at practice and during meets.”
The 2013 version of the Bethany men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will consist of ten boys and ten girls. The top returner on the men’s side is sophomore Brandon Martell (Sharon, Pa./Sharon). Martell earned Second Team All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference last season after finishing fifth in the three meter diving event and sixth in the one meter diving event. “Martell is our lone returner for us on the men’s side this year. He will provide leadership for us to our younger swimmers and help them mature,” said Dow.
The rest of the men’s roster will consist of nine freshmen. “Our men’s team this season is extremely young but they have a lot of potential,” commented Dow. “A lot of our swimmers already have times that would score at PAC’s. We have a lot of guys that can swim all events and so we will be able to fill entire lineups and achieve more wins than we had last season.”
The women’s team this season will also consist of ten athletes. The top returners for the Bison are junior Marina Baker (Winchester, Va./Sherando) and sophomores Taylor Jacobs (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) and Alexi Pyles (Los Angeles, Calif./GHCHS).
Baker had a breakout year for the Bison last season, as she broke seven school records and swam in all five record breaking relays. “Marina was great for us last season. I knew she had the potential to be extremely good and break a lot of records, but how quickly she improved was a huge surprise,” remarked Dow. “Baker will be one of our captains this season because she steps up in pressure situations and enjoys tough competition.”
Jacobs and Pyle also had impressive freshman seasons for Bethany, as both swam in all five record- breaking relays last season. Pyles earned PAC swimmer of the week honors and broke the school record in the 100 butterfly. Jacobs set the school record in the 200 freestyle, but it was broken again by Baker.
Dow had these comments about the two freshman record breakers; “Pyles and Jacobs both had excellent freshman seasons last year for us. They both performed at a high level and swam in all five of our record setting relays. They both worked hard over the summer and I am excited to see what they can do with a season of swimming at the collegiate level under their belts.”
Senior Kayla Spinelli (Maplewood, N.J./Columbia), junior Katie Woeckener (Hickory, N.C./St. Stephens) and sophomore Nicole Pack (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) will also be relied upon to provide leadership and depth for the team.
Joining Dow on the pool deck will be two new assistants, Sara Reass and Michael Sorrentino. Reass returns to her alma-mater where she was a four-year member of the Bison swimming and diving team. During her time with the program, Reass was twice a captain and was named team MVP in three different seasons.
Sorrentino joins the Bethany swimming and diving coaching squad after completing a successful four-year swimming career at SUNY Cortland. At Cortland, Sorrentino was a seven–time SUNYAC Championship finalist, placing in the 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley, and 200 butterfly.
“Mike and Sara have done a great job so far and are a big reason why this team has made a large step forward this season and will continue to do so for years to come,” remarked Dow about his two new assists. “Both of them had great swimming careers and they will continue to be an asset to this entire team with their knowledge of the sport.”
Bethany opens the 2013-14 campaign on Saturday, October 12 when it travels to Penn State-Altoona for a dual meet.