The Youngstown State University swimming and diving team is ready to get back to action as the Penguins begin the second half of their season with a meet against Cleveland State University and Wright State University on Saturday.
The Penguins experienced success in the first half of their season, both as a team and individually.
YSU was victorious in three of its four dual meets, picking up wins against Niagara University, Butler University and Saint Francis University.
Head diving coach Nick Gavolas said the first half of the season went fairly well.
“We had a few injuries for the divers, but when they were healthy, they were good,” Gavolas said.
The team recently returned from Puerto Rico, where they were on a 10-day training trip. Gavolas said he expects his team to come back from the two-month break improved and ready to go.
“We’re getting healthier, and we’re looking to make a run toward the conference tourney,” Gavolas said.
Gavolas speaks highly of the talent that is on his team and applauds his girls for using their talents to the best of their abilities.
He also admitted that there isn’t just one girl that sticks out as having more of an impact than the others, but rather three that have all had success.
“We’re pretty well split,” Gavolas said. “The three that are healthy, [Casey Hill, Tricia Vallinger and Rebecca Stafford], are all sharing the limelight, which bodes well for conference.”
Gavolas also said that he has high expectations for those three divers for the postseason.
“I’m expecting to put those three girls in the top eight and really hope to see them all get in the top five,” Gavolas said. “That’s the plan.”
Gavolas added that his girls have been training — both in the pool and running — and that soon they will get back to lifting weights.
“We do scoring during practice to let them know where they’re at,” he said. “When you dive, you’re really competing against yourself, not others.”
On the swimming side of things, head coach Matt Anderson said he is pleased with how the season started and noted that all of the girls are ahead of their times from last year.
“The biggest difference this year has been their competitiveness,” Anderson said. “They don’t want to lose.”
Looking ahead to the second part of the season, Anderson said these next few weeks would be crucial in finding out where the team stands.
Anderson is hoping to at least split this Saturday’s meet against CSU and WSU.
“Everything we look for is where we place in our [Horizon League] championship meet,” Anderson said.
Anderson, like Gavolas, said that his group of swimmers has pretty good consistency across the board, but noted that sophomore Ashley Dow, junior Therese Stevens and senior Sam Roberts have all stepped up this season.
Anderson said the layoff from competition dating back to Nov. 18 has both a positive and negative impact.
“They lose some of their competitive edge, but, at the same time, they are hungry to get back at it and get the payoff,” Anderson said.
“They’re feeling confident in what they can do as a group.”