With the caliber of swimmers that graduated in 2009, some might have thought the entire YAIAA was in for a rebuilding season.

In fact, no one had to face that more than York Suburban first-year coach Craig Brennan, whose team was going to feel that sting as much as any others.

But a funny thing happened. Kids stepped up, times dropped and because of it this weekend's YAIAA swimming and diving championships at Central York could offer some intriguing matchups.

"This looked like it could be a down year, but it doesn't have to be," Brennan said. "I am really looking forward to seeing how we do. I want to see every school be successful and look forward to cheering for them in districts and states."

Newcomers have filled the lanes admirably, which adds to the excitement of the swimming, which gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Freshmen like Erin Merkle of York Suburban, Spring Grove's Katlyn Miller, Jada Arganbright from Central and Dover's Aniella Janosky and Bree Link are high seeds in various events.

The boys have been boosted by their share of young competitors in sophomores Graham Knaub (Dallastown), Jake Snook (Central), Karl Mallorey (Dover) and Erik Wilson (Red Lion).

Another sophomore, West York's Bradley Strathmeyer is the top seed in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle.

Speaking of relatively new faces, with top seeds in senior Patrick Shannon (100 back) and junior Brandon Shaffer (200 IM), South Western is eager for its first individual YAIAA title in several years.


"I am hoping for some good things from them," Mustang coach Bill Sterner said. "We'd like to win some medals. It's been a while since I had a champion."

Of course, in addition to some close races, the YAIAA meet also gives swimmers that haven't qualified for the District 3 meet an additional chance to post times that will get them in.

"One thing we did was manage to get our allotted four swimmers into every single event," Brennan said. "We might be set with who we have going in, but that is what the county meet is for."

West York coach Jonathan Hoffman is hoping seniors Paige Strathmeyer and Maria Kinney earn one final trip to the Cumberland Valley High School for the district's Class AA meet in two weeks.

"They are really looking forward to this year," Hoffman said. "This is everybody's time to shine."

One thing is certain, there are only a few runaway favorites this year.

"It's not going to be the fastest (YAIAA) meet, but it could be the most competitive," Central coach Greg Wimmer said. "It is the culmination of what a lot of the kids have worked for all season."

Even veteran district qualifiers like Dover senior Christina Janosky and Allie Jenkins of Spring Grove can use the YAIAA meet to improve their seeds for districts.

The YAIAA diving championship gets underway at 6:30 tonight. It will be the first time the competition has been held at Central.

"I am glad we were able to host it this year. It's a good opportunity to have the whole event at our facility," Wimmer said.

Several divers, including two-time defending champ Leigh Waltz of Dallastown, will vie for the title this season.

Waltz will get her normal challenge from fellow seniors Lauren Magalski of Spring Grove and Dover's Laura Rowlands, along with underclassmen Megan Rutter (Central) and Courtney Gress (Dover).

South Western's Chris Beaghan enters the boys' diving competition with a league season-best score of 210.45.
snavaroli@ydr.com; 771-2060