Elyria Catholic Panthers succeeding, despite low numbers (Swimming notes)

The number of swimmers weren’t the only thing down for the Elyria Catholic girls swim team Saturday.

Times in the pool were also trimmed down as the Panthers took seventh out of 15 teams at the Rocket Relays despite only having 12 girls on the roster.

The team of Karlie Sustersic, Shelby Snow, Mikayla Molnar and Kaya Wearsch posted the third-fastest time in the meet’s first race — 200 medley relay — with a time of 2:02.00.

In the 400 yard medley relay, Jenna O’Dell, Molnar, Wearsch and Sustersic also placed third in 4:40.64, beating the seed time of 5:15.09.

The seed time is the fastest time the swimmer(s) posted in the past for that particular event.

Elyria Catholic’s best finish came in the 200 butterfly relay, which the team of O’Dell, Molnar, Sustersic and Snow placed second behind Rocky River in 1:59.35.

Not bad for a team that’s had to make an adjustment to first-year coach Rich Szczepinski, not to mention having one of its lowest turnouts in program history. The Panthers have 18 swimmers total, with just six for the boys.

Elyria Catholic had 43 swimmers during the 2008-09 season with 26 girls and 17 boys. Last year it had 33 swimmers (18 girls, 15 boys).

The girls’ team had 29 members in 2004-05, which was the most it ever had. In 2008-09, 17 swimmers made up the boys’ team, which was its largest turnout.

Early statement

In a tough West Shore Conference with the likes of Bay and Rocky River, Avon made a splash at the Rocket Relays with a top-3 finish from both teams.

The boys tied for third with 54 points while the girls took second with 66 points, beating out back-to-back WSC champion Bay by four points.

Eagles coach Sarah Anders said the team blew her expectations “out of the water.”

“They swam fantastic,” said Anders on Saturday. “We’ve been swimming a lot smarter in practice and it really just paid off, a lot of best times for this early in the season. We’re coming a long way and we’re excited to see where the season goes.”

The Avon girls took first in both the 200 backstroke and 200 breaststroke relays.

The team of Erin Pettigrew, Zanny Sauter, Carly Croyle and Rachel Stark finished the backstroke in 2:01.51, just beating out the Pirates’ time of 2:02.70.

“I was so psyched when we beat them because I think it’s really going to show people that we can come close to Bay’s and River’s standards,” Pettigrew said.

In the breaststroke, Alyssa Sauter, Hope Balser, Teresa Bell and Rachel Poyle beat the Pirates with a time of 2:24.89. Avon beat out Rocky River by nearly four seconds.

Good start for Demons

Westlake also enjoyed success Saturday with the boys tying for third and girls tying for fourth.

Collin Hughes, Jake Bechtel, Joe Knurek and Alex Lamorgese set a new record in the 200 butterfly relay. The four swam it in 1:46.92, beating the previous mark of 1:47.94 set by Avon Lake last season.

The boys are trying to avenge last season’s runner-up finish to Amherst in the SWC championship for the second straight year, while the girls are looking to take back the title from Brecksville, who denied the Demons their eight straight conference championship.

@PaulBarney18

Last Updated: 12/6/2012 7:43:06 PM EST

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