By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
There are a few questions that hang in the air as the dawn of a new York-Adams League swimming season is nearly upon us.
Could this be the year that West York wins the school’s first division title ever?
Can Northeastern senior Niki Price add a few more gold medals to her impressive haul from last year’s PIAA event?
Is there a team out there that can challenge either of Dallastown squads in Division I?
Finally, can the Dover girls rebound from the losses of talented swimmers Aniella Janosky, Bree Link and diver Morgan Stambaugh?
Those questions, and perhaps several others, figure to get answered during the upcoming season — one that the York-Adams coaches expect to be an outstanding one.
Following is a preview look at each division, with last year’s division records noted in parenthesis.
Division I boys: The Wildcats have almost always been at the top the league standings on both sides since the 1990s.
That strong run doesn’t figure to end anytime soon. Dallastown coach Rich Howley fields another extremely talented group that captured division crowns a year ago.
There are five key returners for the Dallastown (4-0) boys, highlighted by senior Trevor Hine. Fellow seniors Mason Tate, Ashton Hansel and Corey Stauffer also return, along with junior Noah Brockway and sophomore Spencer Hill.
Hine took home four golds (200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 200 individual medley and 500 free) at the league event last season and followed that up with a gold in the 200 IM at districts. He also finished a close second at districts in the 500 free.
Hansel took home gold in the 50 free a year ago at the league meet. He finished fourth in the 100 free as well.
Tate claimed first at the league event in the 100 back and second in the IM.
Stauffer also took home four golds from the York-Adams event — the 100 free and 200 free as well the 200 and 400 free relays.
Howley, though, has confidence that other Wildcats will also step up to make an impact this year.
“Every swimmer and diver has an opportunity to be in a top 10,” he said.
Central York (3-1), South Western (2-2), Spring Grove (1-3) and Red Lion (0-4) will all try to topple the Wildcats.
“Our boys will need to have swimmers step up in both the backstroke and the IM,” said Spring Grove coach Peggy Kile.
South Western will have a new leader. Bill Sterner retired after last season. He had been the only head coach in the history of the Mustangs’ program. Sterner’s longtime assistant, Ray Evelan, will take over.
Division I girls: The return of Alyssa Bixler, along with teammates Erica Wise, Lauren Cooksey, Julia Casolo and Justina Thornley, make the Wildcats (4-0) favorites once more.
Bixler, a Penn State University recruit, made states in both the 100 free (10th place) and 100 back (14th place) a year ago. She also led the Wildcats’ 200 medley relay to a state berth.
“Our boys and girls will shoot for the moon,” Howley said. ‘Even if we miss, we will be among the stars.”
Spring Grove (3-1), Central York (2-2), Red Lion (1-3) and South Western (0-4) will all be looking to improve upon last year’s results, with the hopes of knocking off the Wildcats.
“We are hoping for a great season from the girls’ team,” said Kile. “We have a great core of girls that have been swimming together for many seasons.”
Division II boys: There could be a lot of drama for the boys’ crown this year. West York (3-2) is hoping to capture a division crown by knocking off York Suburban (5-0).
The Bulldogs, who finished tied for second with Susquehannock (3-2) and Northeastern (3-2) a year ago, return the talented quartet of David Foery, Reed French, Dayne Brindle and Ben Spangler.
Brindle was a standout in the 100 butterfly, while Foery earned top finishes in the 100 free and 200 free at the league event a year ago. French was fifth at the York-Adams meet in the 500 free, while Spangler was strong in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
“There’s a lot of parity between the teams in Division II,” Dover coach Rich Janosky said. “West York is back, but so is York Suburban and others.”
Suburban will counter with the 1-2 combo of seniors Will Massey and John Spinello.
Massey finished fifth at the league event in the 100 back and sixth in the 100 fly. Spinello had top finishes in both the 50 free and 100 breast at districts.
Both Massey and Spinello were key components of the gold-medal winning 200 medley relay squad at districts. Massey was also an anchor on the 400 free relay squad that took third a year ago at districts.
“We have a good group of returning swimmers sprinkled with freshmen and new swimmers,” Suburban coach Craig Brennan said. “But there are many opportunities for kids to step up and lead our team by voice and example. As a coach, that is what I look forward to most of all, is to see who will take advantage of their opportunities in front of them.”
Susquehannock, Northeastern, Dover (1-4) and New Oxford (0-5) will look to step up and challenge the Bulldogs and Trojans.
“I’m really excited about the boys’ team and how they will compete in Division II this year,” Northeastern coach Dan Schaeberle said. “Last year we had a really young team and we were really inexperienced with a lot of new swimmers. Fortunately we did not lose a lot to graduation, so we get most of those swimmers back. But we are still missing that extra swimmer in events like the 100 fly and 200 IM.”
Division II girls: Dover (5-0) figures to again be the favorite, even after losing three key swimmers to graduation.
Janosky will have the trio of Summer Dacheux, Nicole Smith and Rachel Spaulding back to form a strong core.
Dacheux finished second at the league meet in the 100 back and ninth in the 100 fly last year as a junior. Smith took fourth in both the 100 free and 200 free at the York-Adams meet, while Spaulding was third in both the 200 free and 500 free.
Perhaps the biggest strength from the returning core will be on the relays. That has Janosky excited.
“The versatility of many of our swimmers to swim different events is important,” Janosky said. “But our relays may be our biggest strength.”
Schaeberle is hoping his Bobcats (3-2) will battle the Eagles atop the standings. In addition to the return of Price, a Penn State recruit who won the gold at the PIAA Class AAA championships in the 100 fly and was fifth in the 100 breast, Schaeberle feels others are ready to take the next step.
“We gained two new swimmers that should step right in and perform well,” he said. “We have a lot of girls that can swim all four strokes, and that just adds depth in events like the 100 fly and the 200 IM. That will allow me to move Niki around in different events throughout the season.”
York Suburban (4-1) also figures to be in the mix.
“I feel that both Dover and Suburban have strong girls’ teams,” Brennan said. “Both have top-end speed and a depth.”
Susquehannock (2-3), New Oxford (1-4) and West York (0-5) will look to improve to challenge in the division.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.