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Dover welcomes new pool, return to normalcy; plus York-Adams swimmers to watch this winter

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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The pool is shown in the natorium at Dover Area High School in Dover Township, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo
Ross Spangler

The start of the 2021-2022 York-Adams League swimming season will be welcomed by many for multiple reasons.

After a year when the COVID-19 pandemic condensed schedules and limited individual berths into the postseason, the upcoming season will feature a return to normalcy.

No team is likely to appreciate that more than the Dover Eagles program.

Coach Ross Spangler’s squad had to deal with the scheduling and postseason issues, just like everyone else. Spangler’s crew, however, also had to survive a season without a home pool.

While awaiting the aquatics center at the new Dover High School to be completed, the Eagles were forced to practice late at night at the Graham Aquatics Center in York.

It was not an ideal situation for Spangler and his program, but the Eagles made the best of it.

“We had to take a bus to practice and were practicing until 8:30 at night,” Spangler said. “It was tiring in and of itself.”

Now that the brand-new facility is open for business, the extraordinary efforts made by nearly everyone in the program last year are starting to pay off.

“It is great,” Spangler said. “It’s a great pool and it’ll be a fast pool. It’s designed very well. There are still a few kinks to work out because it is a new facility, but the pool itself is very nice.”

One of the reasons that the pool figures to be faster is the new flush-gutter system that was put in place. The old pool, at what was the middle school, didn’t have that. It also wasn’t as deep as the new one.

“The design is very similar to the one they have at Spring Grove,” Spangler said. “We’re hoping to have it set up like Spring Grove has theirs, with the swimming at the one end of the pool and diving at the other end.”

There was no lack of excitement for this year’s group in anticipation of being the first ones to use the facility.

“They were all very excited to be able to finally get into the pool,” Spangler said. “The first practice that we had was actually a combination with our high school swimmers along with our age-group club swimmers during a preseason practice. We did a countdown from three and they all jumped in at the same time, which was neat to see.”

While the new facility figures to be a big upgrade from the old center, Spangler, a Dover graduate, couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic when thinking of the old complex.

“There is a lot of history that was made in that pool,” he said. “A lot of memories, and it had a special place and a special meaning to all of us, so losing it was hard. But seeing this new place kind of rejuvenated us and I know we’re all excited to move on.”

Dover will get things started at the new pool with its own invitational on Saturday.

Dover teams could be contenders: Spangler’s program should be a contender on both the boys’ and girls’ sides in York-Adams Division II.

Last year, Dover tied for the D-II girls’ crown at 4-1 with York Suburban and Susquehannock. The Dover boys took second at 4-1, behind first-place Gettysburg (5-0).

While a number of Dover standouts graduated, Spangler is excited about the depth of each of his programs.

The girls’ team, which will have to replace standout Emma Pequignot, returns a quartet of swimmers that found success a season ago. That group includes senior Kennedy Coble and junior Nora Craig, as well as sophomores Kenzington Myers and Eliza Burrage.

The boys’ team has some exciting underclassmen that could make big strides this season, but senior Austin Smith is hopeful to take a big stride toward postseason success now that the squad can return to its normal practice schedule.

Susquehannock looks strong: Susquehannock also figures to contend as one of the favorites on both sides.

The boys’ team, which was 3-2 in the division last year, returns a quartet of their own that realized success a season ago. That group is highlighted by PIAA Class 2-A silver medalist Jacob Wade. As a sophomore, Wade finished second in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 50 free at the state meet.

Susquehannock's Jacob Wade reacts after winning the final heat of the boys' 50-yard freestyle event at 21.29 during PIAA District III, Class 2-A Swimming Championships at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In addition to Wade, the duo of Tyler Wright and Jackson Hollinger also return for their sophomore campaigns. Wright excelled in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, while Hollinger stood out in the 500 free. Diver Max Pfleiger, who won the District 3 2-A title a year ago, is back for his senior season.

On the girls’ side, the Warriors return standout Kate Kalmanowicz. The sophomore excelled in the 100 fly and 100 backstroke as a freshman and figures to get even better with a season underneath her. Junior divers McKenna Porter, who won the District 3 2-A title last year, and Ryleigh Marks also return.

Suburban and Gettysburg also figure to be D-II contenders.

Division I: The Central York girls and Spring Grove and Dallastown boys figure to be the primary contenders in Division I.

The Central York girls and Dallastown boys each 5-0 in division action last year en route to crowns.

The Panthers figure to head into the season as the favorites on the girls’ side, with the talented duo of seniors Camryn Leydig and Ava Gemma. Leydig, a University of Akron recruit, stands out in the 100 back and 100 fly, while Gemma excels in the 100 breast and 200 individual medley. Last year in the state 3-A meet, Leydig took sixth in the 100 fly and eighth in the 100 back.

Central York's Camryn Leydig wins the women's 100-yard backstroke event at 58.65 during swimming action against Spring Grove at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Dallastown graduated a lot of talented senior boys a year ago, but can still rely on the duo of Thomas Smolinski and Cooper Stiles to help fill some of the void.

Spring Grove returns University of Florida recruit Daniel Gordon, along with junior Campbell Toth, in addition to Brady Hoopes, a diver. Last year in the state 3-A meet, Gordon was fourth in the 100 free and sixth in the 50 free.

Spring Grove's Daniel Gordon wins the boys 100-yard butterfly event at 53.18 during swimming action at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Ones to watch: In addition to the athletes mentioned above, there are several other returning standouts to keep an eye on this season.

Gettysburg’s duo of Hannah Brainard and Rebekah Reaver figure to make some noise again this year. Brainard, who earned PIAA medals in the 100 free (eighth) and 200 free (seventh) as a junior, is hoping to move up the medal stand at the end of this season. Reaver, a sophomore, stood out in the 100 free, among other events last year as a freshman.

Gettysburg's Hannah Brainard places second in the third heat of the girls' 200-yard freestyle event during PIAA District III, Class 2-A Swimming Championships at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

South Western’s Leah Leonard excelled in the 50 free last year as a sophomore. Red Lion junior Arabella Butera has been a force in the 100 breast and 200 IM and could achieve her goal of making states in both events this year. She was fifth in the 100 breast at the state 3-A meet last year.

Red Lion's Bella Butera wins the women's 200-yard individual medley event at 2:18.72 during swimming action against Dover at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Dallastown’s Zoe Schneider, a junior, stood out in the 100 fly and 500 free a year ago. York Suburban’s Masen Senft, a junior, will be looked on to be a leader for the Trojans, who graduated four all-stars from a year ago.

Northeastern’s Stephen Barlett, a senior, will be back to defend his District 3 3-A diving title from a year ago.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com or @ydsports. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.