With her sophomore swimming season coming to a close this week, York Suburban's Jenna Hufnagle said her initial campaign for the Trojans has been an eye opening experience.
With that being said, representing her school has been a blast.
"It's been awesome. It's so much like a family," said Hufnagle, who only competed in club swimming last year. "I never knew what a team could do on taper and I never knew what someone individually could do for a taper."
Because of it, Hufnagle is a part of the York Suburban contingent that makes the annual trek to Lewisburg for the PIAA Class AA swimming and diving championships.
She's one of several first-timers for Suburban at the state meet, which begins with Class AA competition today and Thursday. The Class AAA events will then hit the Bucknell University pool on Friday and Saturday.
The Trojans have an interesting mix of experience levels — both young and old — on their 2014-15 roster.
"We factor that into what we are doing," Suburban coach Craig Brennan said. "Every new swimmer at states has a captain in their room so they can help them along the way and keep their cool when it's a very anxious meet. Some of the kids have been there four years, so they can explain what it's like and their experience of being there."
Fresh off the District 3 Class AA girls' team title, Hufnagle credited veteran teammates Anna Schmittle, Carson Gross and Megan Hunt with helping her all season.
"I know Carson and Anna really hammered me midseason about coming to practice, doing my best, even as tired as we all felt," Hufnagle said. "When I didn't perform my best, they always supported me and cared for me like a team. It was very inspirational."
Gross, a junior, is the top seed in the 200 freestyle, and is fourth in the 500 free. The sophomore Hunt will also swim in the 200, but will be dangerous in the 100 breaststroke on Thursday, where she enters as the sixth seed.
The elder statesman Schmittle, a senior, will swim in the 50 and 100 free races, along with Madie Devaney in the 50. Hufnagle will be in a individual event as well, in the 100 backstroke.
Plus, the Trojan girls will have all three relays swimming and are seeded in the top four in each, with sophomore Cara Zortman and freshman Keelie Walker playing instrumental roles.
Of course, the Trojan boys' team has junior Matt Spinello, who returns to Bucknell for a third time, along with senior Diego Herrera. The duo will be joined by sophomore Karl Schmittle and freshman Aidan Fryar, each of whom are making their PIAA debuts.
"After last year, I didn't know how we'd pull together a relay because we lost half a relay," Spinello said. "I was surprised how this year came together. We did really well. We've got a lot of underclassmen so there's a lot of room for the team to continue doing well."
Spinello, who will also swim in the 100 free, is seeded fourth in the 100 butterfly. He said he is even more ready for this meet.
"This year a lot of the nerves are gone. Last year I was really nervous before a lot of the races. I didn't get much sleep up there," he said. "I feel like I belong more. Last year I was ranked 10th I think and this year I am in the top-four. I think I can bring home more medals. I think there's room to go faster. Think I can drop half a second to get under 51."
Fryar has made incredible strides during his rookie campaign. He enters Wednesday at the fifth seed in the 50 free, and is also in the 100 free. Karl Schmittle will compete in the butterfly and the foursome will be in both freestyle relays.
Brennan is hoping both of his squads are able to carry the positive momentum over from a stellar district meet.
"We had a good week of work before districts. Between districts and states, my challenge to them was find a way to get better. I think we've had a better week of work now," he said. "That bodes well. It's a good sign."
Other YAIAA schools that will have at least one swimmer at states include: West York, Gettysburg, Dover and Northeastern in AA. On Friday and Saturday, the AAA swimmers hit the water, with Dallastown, Central York, New Oxford, Red Lion and Spring Grove competing.
District champions Spencer Hill (100 butterfly) and Noah Brockway (100 backstroke) of Dallastown will take on the rest of state in the ultra-competitive Class AAA.
The 2015 PIAA swimming and diving championships
At Kinney Natatorium, Bucknell University
Class AA Wednesday and Thursday; Class AAA Friday and Saturday
Local participants: Girls - Carson Gross, Megan Hunt, Anna Schmittle, Madie Devaney, Jenna Hufnagle, Cara Zortman, Keelie Walker (York Suburban). Maelyn Elder, Taylor Hoover, Madi Stoner, Claudia Keller, Erica Sarver in diving (West York). Madison Nalls (Eastern York*). Lindsey Pope in diving (Northeastern). Boys - Diego Herrera, Matt Spinello, Karl Schmittle, Aidan Fryar (York Suburban). Derek Ondrizek, Logan Hyde (Gettysburg). Robert Jones (Biglerville*). Casey Marshall, Dover. Ben Spangler, Greg Landis, West York.
Class AAA Friday and Saturday
Local participants: Girls - Anna Hess, Jena Woods, Mikaelie Gonzalez, Erica Wise (Dallastown). Courtney Schaefer (Red Lion). Emily Jenkins (Spring Grove). Regan Chalk (New Oxford). Boys - Noah Brockway, Spencer Hill, Logan Brockway, Grant Wertz, Jake Stoner (Dallastown). Alec Peckmann, Erik Peckmann, Jesse Tate, Will Hartzell (Central York). Dylan North (Red Lion).
*Denotes non-swim school
For more informations and a breakout of events: http://www.yorkblog.com/varsity