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#PrepTalkPreview: Girls swimming – The tradition continues for the Sapios of OP

2016 team champions: Orchard Park (Section VI), Sacred Heart (All-Catholic).

2016 underclassmen Section VI champions: 100 free - Allie Stockwell-10 (Jamestown), 100 back - Riley Drummond-11 (Fredonia-Dunkirk-Forestville-Silver Creek), 100 breast - Isabel Sapio-10 (Orchard Park).

Sister act: Don't feel too sorry for Orchard Park coach Bret Novilitis. He may have lost the Prep Talk Athlete of the Year in girls swimming for 2016 in Olivia Sapio. But he can just call on another Sapio to replace her.

"We still have Isabel," Novilitis said. "She's been a state qualifier for the last couple of years."

Coaches who deal with sisters passing through high school have to make one less introduction to parents when the younger sibling arrives. Novilitis said it's fun coaching sisters, but it's not as if one is a carbon copy of the other.

"There are so different," he said about the Sapios. "Isabel has different strengths in her swimming. They have much different personalties. They really are two different kids."

Novilitis has had a few sisters compete on the same team in recent years. One time, he noticed sibling rivalry pop up.

"The Sapios used to push each other," the coach said. "One time, they were both in the same race. We really needed the points, and Isabel really wanted to beat her sister. She really poured it on. She didn't win, but she finished second, so we went one-two instead of one-three."

What's up in Class A: Orchard Park almost always has plenty of talent, no matter who leaves. You should be hearing about swimmers such as Halle Dueringer, Emma Riccio, Sarah Conley, Marissa Carrig and Beatrice Choroser this year.

Clarence figures to be one of the best teams. Emma Colson should be the favorite in the 200 free come championship time, and Macrae Haluszczak may make some noise in the 100 fly. Lancaster and Frontier have come on in recent years, and one of them might be ready to crash the OP-Clarence party. Molly Hewett and Michaela Morgus are promising swimmers for the Legends, while Michelina Bautz looks like a future star. Lockport has a superb swimmer in Katie Pollock and the area's top returning diver in Julia LaRose, so the Lions just need to develop some depth around her.

Small schools: In Class B, Fredonia-Dunkirk had some graduation losses but keeps Riley Drummond. Alexis Trietley of Olean was third in the 200 free in sectionals while in seventh grade. East Aurora is the biggest school in Class C. The Blue Devils have the Brinkers, Emma and Mary, plus Mary Dunbar and Shelby MacSwan.

Motivation: Nardin is the usual power in the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association, but last season Sacred Heart broke through to win a championship - its first since 1991. You can bet that last year's results will be mentioned to the Gators every so often this season.

The Sharks will be tough to knock off. Abby Halsdorfer and Claire Mastrandrea were state qualifiers, and are both back this season. Mastrandea was part of a 200 Medley Relay team that also made it to states, as were Lily Dimmig and Savannah Revelas. But Nardin has a fleet of freshmen ready to make some waves - Rachel Martin, Nichole Marchese, Maria Kubiak and Veronica Bargnesi - to go with senior Julia Martin.

Elsewhere, senior Angelyn Johnson has one more year to show her talents at Mount St. Mary's. The freestyle standout leads the relays and sprint events. Buffalo Seminary is young but has a couple of top sophomores in Erin Tesluk, the defending All-Catholic champion at the 200 IM, and Jessica Napier.

Format: A total of 45 schools are scheduled to field teams in Section VI this year. They are broken into three classes of 15 schools each.

Fredonia/Dunkirk-Forestville-Silver Creek is scheduled to add yet another school to its list -- Brocton. Seven teams in Section VI feature combined school districts.

Save the date: Clarence and Orchard Park usually are the top rivals. If that's the case this time around, the annual meeting should be a good one. This year's renewal takes place at Orchard Park on Oct. 10. Nardin and Sacred Heart match up on Oct. 3 and 24 at the Buffalo State Pool.

Championship time: The Section VI swimming championships will be held on Nov. 1 and 3 at Erie Community College's Burt Flickinger Center, with diving slated for Maryvale High School in-between. The All-Catholic Meet is at ECC's Burt Flickinger Center on Nov. 2. The best swimmers move on to the states, which will be held at Ithaca College on Nov. 16-18.

Who's going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Pollock looks like a favorite, but Sapio of Orchard Park is very capable of keeping the award in the family. Colson might jump into the picture too.

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