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Johnson Motors - 877-816-0659
Clearfield swim teams return slew of letterwinners for 2012-13
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
HYDE - Clearfield swimming and diving head coach Jackie Morrison sees it every year.
In every one of her previous 23 years, she's had a select few who have trained in the offseason and others who didn't.
Year No. 24 is no different for Morrison, but that doesn't taper the expectations she has for this year's team.
The Lady Bison, who claimed both the Mountain League and District 6-9 regional crowns a season ago, return nine letterwinners to this year's team and hope to build on their recent success.
The boys, on the other hand, also have nine lettermen back, but the small size of the roster presents its share of positives and negatives to contend with.
"They're getting better every day - everybody across the board," said Morrison. "Some aren't quite ready for competition yet, ... but they'll learn and be ready by early- to mid-January for competition, and others are going to have to contribute from the get go.
"We are venturing into the unknown with a lot of these kids. We're going to use December to identify our strengths and weaknesses, in January we'll correct them and then the focus is going to be all team and individual (in February). We want to peak then. We're not too concerned with peaking prior to championship meets, whenever it is and wherever it is."
Morrison has 40 athletes total on her roster and the Lady Bison comprise a majority of it.
Clearfield has 27 girls on the team, including some with returning state qualifying credentials.
Leading the list of returnees for Morrison is diver Jessica Shomo, who placed fourth at last year's state meet.
Also back after garnering a trip to Bucknell University are Krystal Wriglesworth, Lauren Conrad, Hannah Kirsch, Kara Thorp and Courtney Smith - all of whom qualified on different relay teams.
"Obviously, we're expecting huge things from our divers - in particular from Jessica, who might be vying for a state title," Morrison said. "We're expecting her to be on the podium again. There's some pressure there, but she's a pressure kid. I think she's somebody that seeks it out (because) she thrives on it.
"The numbers are good and my top string has a lot of potential. There are three people I can swim in each event and my top two are going to be pretty good (in every event). I don't know who's going to make third string. The top two ... there's some speed there.
"There is still a lot of room for improvement. If they improve like we expect them to, we'll be contenders in championship meets."
Also earning letters on the girls' side a year ago were Misty Knapik, Morgan Young and Jade Barrett.
"The ladies have good numbers," said Morrison. "We have depth, but we have inexperienced depth. We're going all the way from teaching basic swimming skills in one lane all the way up to people that might excel at the Division II level at college.
"We've got six lanes of 10 ability levels. That's the challenge - how to get 10 ability levels in six lanes. It's been an interesting dynamic."
The Bison also have some returning qualifiers from a year ago, but with only 13 athletes on the squad it makes it tough to gauge what kind of success they will have.
Morrison welcomes back state returnees in Wyatt Flanagan, who qualified individually and on a relay, Michael Spencer and Kyle Thompson - each of whom advanced on relays.
In addition to those three, Ricky Clark, Dylan Swisher, Dale Confer, Matt Rippey, Preston Sheeder and Alex Shugarts all earned their letters.
"We have 11 dedicated swimmers, and the divers have to help us in the relays," Morrison said. "That's the smallest number I've ever fielded in 24 years, but it looks pretty strong across the board. I think they're all going to be contributors and not by default. I think they'll contribute in spite of what the other team shows us.
"I think if they run into a team with quality depth that they'll struggle in that dual meet. We can't control that ... we'll do what we have to do. If that's why we falter in a swim meet, then that's why we falter in a swim meet. I don't want it to be because we didn't perform."
With a lot of youth and inexperience on the team, Morrison is expecting the 10 seniors to help bring the underclassmen along, whether vocally or by example.
"With the inexperience and youth (on the roster), we're really going to relay on (the seniors) to be leaders in the pool," said Morrison. "They have to be leaders at practice, in the locker room and on deck. They've got to teach and show these kids the ropes and not assume these kids know what this sport is all about.
"They're going to have to be teachers. They're going to have to be coaches. They're going to have to be mentors. We really need it sorely because it's going to be a long season if they don't."
Clearfield opens its season on Friday against Central at Penn State Altoona.
The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m.

*Ricky Clark, *Dylan Swisher.
*Dale Confer, *Wyatt Flanagan, Alec Freeman, *Matthew Rippey, *Kyle Thompson.
*Preston Sheeder, *Alex Shugarts, *Michael Spencer.
Chase Johnson, Brandon McGarry, Nick Veihdeffer.

Ashleigh Eggers, *Misty Knapik, Kirsten Muirhead, *Jessica Shomo, *Courtney Smith, Devan Sponsler, Abby Strouse, *Krystal Wriglesworth.
*Jade Barrett, *Lauren Conrad, *Hannah Kirsch, Gabby Naddeo, *Kara Thorp, Cassidy Turner.
Tia Lombardo, Leonie Masnick, Jessica Matten, *Morgan Young.
Rebecca Farmery, Alison Hansen, Emily Hoover, Claire Mikesell, Eva Miller, Raeleigh Redden, Charlene Strunk, Veronica Welker, Amanda Williams.
*Denotes returning letterwinner.

7-vs. Central at Penn State Altoona; 13-Central Mountain, Penns Valley; 15-at Kinney Natatorium Invitational, Bucknell University, 11 a.m.; 19-Tyrone.
2-Bellefonte; 5-Arctic Swim Classic, 11 a.m.; 11-vs. Huntingdon at Juniata College; 14-DuBois; 17-at Brookville; 21-St. Marys; 25-at Bradford, 4 p.m.
4-at DuBois; 7-Brookville; 11-at St. Marys; 15-Bradford.
13-14-at State Meet, Kinney Natatorium, Bucknell University.
All meets begin at 6 p.m. unless noted.
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