PARKERSBURG -For the second week in a row, Parkersburg will be the site of a major high school swim meet.
Last Saturday, the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg served as the host for the Patriot Invitational, sponsored by Parkersburg South. Today, 16 swim teams from across the Mountain State will converge on the Parkersburg YMCA for the Parkersburg High School Penguin Invitational.
In addition to the host Big Reds and their crosstown rival South, other participating teams include Williamstown, Doddridge County, Clarksburg Notre Dame, Liberty, Bridgeport, East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior, Huntington, Wheeling Park, Point Pleasant, Wheeling Central, Buckhannon-Upshur, Philip Barbour and Robert C. Byrd.
Warmups get under way at 11:40 a.m. with the first event scheduled to go off at 1:50 p.m.
PHS coach Linda Alt is extending a special invitation to members of the public to stop by the YMCA and support the swimmers. The Big Reds will be recognizing their senior members today. Those being honored include Jacqueline Braham, Eric Eisenmann, Sowji Mukkamala, Kyra Harrington, Wes Azinger and Alexa Standley.
PHS is coming off a strong performance at last Saturday's HYCAT Invitational at Capital High School, where both Big Reds teams placed second to George Washington. That was particularly impressive for the Big Red boys, who pulled off that feat despite being without stars Preston Padden and Sean Snider, both of whom will be back in the lineup today. They will be joined by several others who can contribute, including Nic Cheuvront, Peyton Hughes, Eisenmann, Jack Terosky, Stephen Cottrell and Anthony Kist.
Parkersburg's boys will expect strong challenges from Parkersburg South -which won the Patriot Invitational last Saturday -and Bridgeport, a perennial West Virginia power.
South is led by Garrett Fink, Corey Johnson, Kinzie Bailey, Lane Burton, Garrett DePergola, Casey Dye, Chase Dye and Ryan Pritchard
The Big Red girls have beaten every team they have faced this season with the exception of George Washington. PHS wants to see how it does against Wheeling Park, which won the Patriot Invitational title by more than 100 points.
Leading the Big Reds are Claire Collette, Sarah Snider, Hannah Wareheim, Alexa Standley, Jen Standley, Tara Foster, Sarah Sisson, Lacey Dulaney, Braham, Shalyn Baylor and Sowji Mukkamala. South is led by Emily Gersper, Rachel Kirk, Anna Pasternak, Ryan Hesselrode and Emily Lowden. Williamstown is led by Kristianna Weppler, Sarah DeBolt, Katie McDuffy and Chelsey Butler.
What makes the Big Reds strong are their relay teams. Relays are scored as twice the points as individual events and PHS possesses both the talent and depth not only to be competitive in each relay, but often to field two teams that score in the same event.
Swimming is the first of West Virginia's winter sports to crown state champions. In fact, the state swim meet will take place in less than a month.
We'll get a good indication today of which teams will be among the contenders when the state's best gather at the West Virginia University Natatorium Feb. 14 and 15.