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Falcon swim team has plenty of new faces

The Salisbury swim team will return a good chunk of last year’s team with only two top graduates leaving in 2020. But there will also be plenty of newcomers in the pool for the Falcons this winter.

A total of seven newcomers-six freshmen and one sophomore-have joined the swim team under head coach Makenzie Sikora, a former Falcon swimmer herself. Noah Kichline is the new sophomore, while Genesis Almodovar, Allison Beckage, Gabriella DeJesus, Tula Reihman, Charlie Morton and John Tenezaca are the first-year swimmers at the high school level.

That group will be key in providing some depth after graduating both Shane Artis and Olivia Hoeing last season, the top boys and girls swimmer for the Falcons. Artis set personal best times in all four of his events at last year’s District 11 Class 2A Meet: 50-yard freestyle (25.75 seconds), 100-yard freestyle (56.70), 100-yard backstroke (1:07.05) and 500-yard freestyle (5:34.29). Hoeing also put together her best times during the postseason a year ago. She swam the 50-yard freestyle in 27.42 seconds, the 100-yard butterfly in 1:13.23 and the 200-yard freestyle in 2:17.31.

“We have a seasoned girls team with four seniors, all of which are four-year swimmers,” assistant coach Rob Costantini said. “We have a very young team overall with 11 freshmen and sophomores.

“With such a young team, experience via competition and training is what’s needed most. A few of the younger swimmers have shown promise and high potential for success.”

Costantini and Sikora, however, figure to rely heavily on the returning swimmers to pave the way. Julia Graver is the top returner on the girls’ side, picking up two fourth-place medals at last year’s district meet. She swam the 200-yard freestyle in 2:02.62 and the 100-yard backstroke in 1:03.90, both personal bests for the Falcon senior.

Senior Eliza Wiener posted season-best times last year in the 500-yard freestyle (5:52.97) and 200-yard IM (2:27.78) in districts, and is expected to swim the 100-yard backstroke more this winter. Ella DeFazio, a sophomore, is expected to have a successful season as well after taking seventh at districts last year in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:17.71).

On the boys’ side, junior Carver Moyer is the top finisher from a season ago. He swam the 50-yard freestyle in 27.66 seconds and the 100-yard freestyle in 1:00.89 at districts, both personal bests.

Costantini and Sikora believe that a number of their returners have the ability to qualify for districts this season, one that has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Julia, Eliza, Ella and Carver are our best hopes for posting district times, and we hope to have a few others qualify as well,” Costantini said. “Graver is the best hope for a top-three medal finish in her events.”

The winter sports season was put on hold shortly after practices started due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. The Falcons were scheduled to open their season on Tuesday against Whitehall after being sidelined for over three weeks due to the virus.

Once the season does get underway, Costantini and Sikora will be focused on getting the newcomers up to speed and familiarizing this young team to competitive swimming.

“Our primary goal is to put in the necessary time to develop the new swimmers, and to compete in as many meets as possible to post event times,” Costantini said. “Practice started in late November, but after three weeks all high school sports were shut down and just restarted on January 4.”

The Falcons were originally scheduled to open the season with nonleague meets against Whitehall and Blue Mountain this week. Those were both postponed and the new opening day for Salisbury swimming will be Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Saucon Valley.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Julia Graver earned two fourth-place medals at last year's District 11 Class 2A Swimming Championships.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Salisbury's Eliza Wiener swam personal best times in two individual events at last year's district championship meet.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Carver Moyer is the top returning boys swimmer on Salisbury's team this year after he posted personal best times in the 50- and 100-freestyle events at districts last year.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Salisbury sophomore Ella DeFazio finished seventh in the district in breaststroke last year during her first season on the high school team.