Returning a pair of all-stars, including the two-time defending YAIAA girls' diving champion, is one of several reasons for optimism at Northeastern heading into the 2012-13 swimming season.
Becca Gross, a senior who will dive at Rutgers University next season, earns the Bobcats valuable points during every meet that includes diving. Gross likely would have a pair of District 3 Class AA titles if not for Trinity's Ashley Butcher.
Still, two silver medals in one of the PIAA's most competitive districts is impressive, and because the Northeastern girls bumped up to AAA, Gross might have a shot at the elusive gold in the spring.
But there is more to this team, including the return of fellow all-star Renae Luckenbaugh, the arrival of some key freshmen and the addition of talented club swimmer Niki Price. Because of it, the Bobcats are looking to improve on their 3-2 Division II record and 3-5 overall mark from 2011-12.
Can Northeastern challenge the likes of Dover and York Suburban? Dan Schaeberle, who is entering his 10th season at the Bobcat helm, hopes so, although he is realistic.
"I think we can compete against them. Unfortunately, like in the boys last year, we don't have the depth in the stroke events," Schaeberle said.
Although depth could be an issue against the established YAIAA powers, with the addition of Price, Northeastern will win its share of events during the dual-meet season. The junior is already paying dividends on both the girls' and boys' teams.
"She probably could medal in every event at states. She has a good shot at winning any event she is going to take a look at," Schaeberle said.
"In practice, she swims with three boys, and those three boys have improved so much. They are swimming times at practice they were not doing. It's because of her. She has upped the level of everybody in the pool."
Here's a look at some by-the-numbers facts from around the YAIAA swimming league.
Years it had been since Dover had beaten Dallastown in a girls' meet, a streak that ended Thursday in the first meet between the two schools in three years.
According to Eagles coach Rich Janosky, it was a victory that will resonate with his squad the rest of the season.
"We really looked forward to this year and having the opportunity to swim them," the coach said. "I just can't be more proud with how mature they were and how they followed through. I don't know if our own school knows how special it is to beat a Dallastown."
Not only do the Eagles return standouts Rachel Spaulding, Nicole Smith, Bree Link, Summer Dacheux, Mia Becker and Aniella Janosky, but Dover also has depth that is crucial in big meets.
"The other girls stepped up. We had another three or four that went to the next level," said Rich Janosky, who started his 24th season as Eagles coach. "What I like about this year's squad is we are pretty good in all the strokes. We have a solid group of girls who are consistent in all 12 events."
Combined juniors (11) and sophomores (12) on the talented Dallastown boys' team, including reigning Division I Swimmer of the Year Trevor Hine, who won three silver medals at the District 3 Class AAA championships as a sophomore.
After posting a 10-0 record last season, the Wildcats boys are already off to a great start in the new campaign. But more impressively, they're fresh off finishing first out of 18 teams at Saturday's Bucknell Invitational.
Braxton Erne, Corey Stauffer, Steven Paine, Noah Brockway and D.J. Boyer came up huge helping Dallastown win both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays at Bucknell.
While there have been some terrific boys' teams in the YAIAA, this Wildcats squad might be the deepest the league has seen.
Career wins for South Western coach Bill Sterner, who is in his 40th season at the Mustangs helm.