Big Reds’ Penguin Invite set for today

Event was cancelled last season due to weather

Photo by Ron Johnston Parkersburg High School’s Grace Cox competes in a triangular swim meet earlier this season for the Big Reds, who are having their annual Penguin Invitational today at the YMCA of Parkersburg.

PARKERSBURG — Mother Nature was not kind to the Parkersburg High School swim team this time last year.

Big Red head coach Terry Nisewarner is hoping things will go smoothly with the weather as the annual Penguin Invitational is set to get underway at 10:30 a.m. today at the YMCA of Parkersburg.

“We didn’t have the meet last year,” Nisewarner stated.

“We had a four-team makeup the next Friday so we could have a senior night basically, but it wasn’t the Penguin.”

Aside from Fairmont Senior not being in the field, some of the best swim teams in the Mountain State will be on hand.

The PHS girls, who are trying to repeat as state champs, should be challenged by the likes of Bridgeport, George Washington, 2017 state champion Wheeling Park as well as Parkersburg South and Morgantown.

George Washington’s boys are the two-time defending state champs while Nisewarner’s Big Red boys have brought home consecutive state runner-up honors each of the past two winters from the West Virginia University Natatorium.

Expected to join those programs in the field are Buckhannon-Upshur, Chapmanville, Doddridge County, East Fairmont, Grafton, Huntington, Liberty (Harrison), Lincoln, Logan, Man, Notre Dame, Robert C. Byrd, Spring Valley and Wheeling Central.

“It’s going to be a stacked meet,” added Nisewarner if everyone shows up with the potential threat of Mother Nature rearing its ugly head once again in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“If I had to guess, other than the state meet this is probably going to be the fastest meet of the season based on the teams that are coming with the top four or five teams on the boys and girls side. I think a lot of teams you will see will be in the top five at state.”

PHS will honor all of its seniors today as well as foreign exchange student Victoria Arroyo-Calvo.

“We’ve done all right. We are still working out some kinks and little things,” admitted Nisewarner, whose squad features 12th-graders in Aidan Azinger, Logan Bock, Joel Butcher, Brady Colvin, David Fruner, David Snider, Cody VanAllen, AJ Vann, Haddae Allen, Olivia Collett, Brooke Marshall, Sydney Mills, Olivia Ramsay and Mariah Sands.

Coach Nisewarner noted with where the meet falls in the season that his swimmers are, “a little tired now endurance-wise and we’re getting them ready for the championship meets.

“They are getting there. They’ve been a good group, making strides and getting better. We always have these stretches during the season where we get a little tired, but by the time it’s championship time they are usually ready to roll.”