PARKERSBURG -The 10-team Patriot Invitational Swim Meet will get under way at noon today at the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club with a star-studded field on tap.
The Parkersburg South boys brings a 47-2 mark into the competition and thus must be considered one of the favorites. The Patriots only losses are to Linsly and Bridgeport, the latter one of the favorites to win the state championship next month in Morgantown.
Coach Steve Lutz's squad isn't big in numbers -the roster is only a dozen deep -but every team member contributes. It's the Patriots depth that makes them so strong as South often is able to place two relay teams in the same event.
Leading the way for the Patriots are captains Garrett DePergola, Joe Miller and Corey Johnson as well as freshman sensation Garrett Fink. That quartet not only is scoring in individual races, but also is making South strong in the relay events. Add in Lane Burton, captain Ryan Pritchard and Kinzie Smith and the Patriots have enough talent and depth to be competitive in any meet they attend.
Others making a contribution to the South cause include Casey Dye, Chase Dye, Brady Starcher, Even Clark and Zach Marion.
"We are getting points from all 12 swimmers,'' said Lutz, who founded the swim program and has been its only head coach. "They are versatile and we are able to change our lineup and try different things each week.''
South's girls team is young but not only is gaining experience but also is showing improvement each time it takes to the water. Anna Pasternak has assumed a leadership role and is bringing along younger swimmers such as freshmen Emily Gersper and Rachel Kirk. Junior Ryan Hesslerode has made great strides and can score in any meet.
Providing the opposition today will be Wheeling Park, a 45-strong team that will compete for both the boys and girls titles; John Marshall and Weir, who will join Wheeling Park and South at the OVAC meet; Marietta, which has increased its numbers and talent level; Spring Valley, which has a strong boys team; Woodrow Wilson, a solid Mountain State Athletic Conference program; first year team Point Pleasant, and Little Kanawha Conference squads Doddridge County and Williamstown.
South will use the meet to recognize its seniors -Ryan Pritchard, Corey Johnson, Chase Dye, Casey Dye and Clayton Tichy.
Action begins at noon.