Girls swimming: 2012-13 team-by-team preview

Ocean City High School’s Melanie Wilezol wins a 200-meter freestyle race last season. Wilezol and the Red Raiders seek their third straight conference title.

Cape-Atlantic League

American Conference

Absegami (2-6) returns 2011-12 first-team Press All-Star sophomore Emily Barnard. The Braves will be young again. However, Karly LoSasso and Tina Murphy are now seniors and will provide leadership.

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Atlantic City (8-3) seems likely to be back to its winning form of the 2009-2010 season. As freshmen, Colleen Callahan, Ayana Cox, Melissa Toy, Dominique Voso and Elvia Alvarez, now seniors, helped the Vikings capture their first conference and South Jersey Public A titles. The five leaders hope to repeat those accomplishments with the help of top freshmen Amber Glenn, Carley Sless and Roman Barber. Rachel Kessler, Allison Naoum, Andrea Gudino, Katie Lund and Carly Egrie will add depth in the outside lanes.

Egg Harbor Township (4-5) lost two-time, first-team Press All-Star Shannon Howarth, but the Eagles still return several dominant swimmers along with some key underclassmen. Lauren Woodward, Mary Ingersol and Kelly Catania are now seniors. Sophomore Victoria Evans leads the underclassmen, including freshmen Kirsten Rontos, Bailey Howarth and Agnes McDonough and sophomores Brittany Ngo and Alex Bossi. And junior Kelsey Beloff also returns.

Mainland Regional (12-2) took a minor hit at the top of its lineup, but the Mustangs return five Press All-Stars, including first-teamer Sydney Boswell. Boswell and fellow senior captain Michaela Tighe will lead the squad, which includes 10 freshmen. Mainland, which reached the South Jersey Public A final the past two seasons, returns juniors Morgan Walls, Rylie Devine, Casey Butrus and Liz O'Sullivan. Sophomores Samantha Boswell and Megan Bralski also are back.

Millville (2-10) has the numbers but lacks experience. Seniors Amanda Dods, Caitlin Potter, Jamie Parent, Jessica Pettit and Patti Conlow will provide leadership, along with junior Abbey Cossaboon.

Oakcrest (5-5) reached the first S.J. Public B final in program history last winter before falling to Haddonfield. The Falcons graduated three top swimmers but have several returnees to keep them competitive, including seniors Danielle LaPergola, Jessica Hutter and Ashley Juzwiak. Sophomores Taylor Phy, Amber Juzwiak, Danielle Scardino and Logan Day also return, while freshman D'Anna Sydow is the team's top newcomer. Coach Scott Montgomery expects another playoff run despite all the roster changes.

Vineland (7-3) was hit hard by graduation but maintained a solid junior and senior core, led by returning first-team Press All-Star Rachel Bernhardt and fellow senior Courtney Middleton. Third-year coach Mike Schneider (19-5) says his team's success will depend on younger swimmers stepping up. Their help will be crucial as the Fighting Clan hope to contend for the conference title, which they haven't won since 2006. Junior Sarah Bennett and sophomores Katie Conrow and Adrienne Ruberti are among Vineland's key returnees. Schneider expects freshmen Emma Hood and Melanie Milam to score points right away.

National Conference

Cape May Tech (1-4) showed improvement from its winless 2010-2011 season. The Hawks graduated top sprinters Morgan Casey, Rachel Zarycky and Raffaella Soriano. Elizabeth Farmer has a shoulder injury but may be ready to compete by January. Sophomore Leah Kelleher and juniors Susan Bluhm, Kayla Olsen, Johanna DeFeo, and Ashlynn Senico should contribute right away. Freshman Jaclyn Gehring, Cape May Tech standout Trevor Gehring's younger sister, shows promise.

Cedar Creek (0-5) will compete in the CAL for the first time after swimming as an independent last season. Sophomore Andrea Battistelli, a transfer from Our Lady of Mercy Academy, is a strong addition to the Pirates. Juniors Bethany Opie, Rosalie Hood and Julia Ferris are key returnees.

Holy Spirit (5-5) reached the S.J. Non-Public B quarterfinals, where it lost to Bishop Eustace, last year. The Spartans lost Press honorable mention selection Kristen Borrone to graduation. Seniors Celia Morrison and Emily Giegerich return, along with juniors Cayleigh McCusker, Caroline Brady, Catie Vesper and Claire McLenna. Sophomore Cathy Nguyen also is back.

Middle Township (4-4) reached the postseason for the first time in program history and set a team record for wins last season. The Panthers lost three seniors to graduation but hope to stay competitive again this season. Seniors Audrey Dingler, Lexi Mairone, Meredith Faulkner and Alix Thomas will lead, along with juniors Maddie Anagnou and Amanda Bartha. Laura Dingler, Audrey's younger sister, is Middle's top prospect.

Ocean City (11-4) aims to win its third straight conference title under its third coach in as many years. Former Holy Spirit swimmer and 2007 graduate Katie Merz takes over as coach. The Red Raiders return three first-team Press All-Stars - senior Melanie Wilezol and juniors Noel Styer and Rachel Chain. Sophomores Erin Myers and Gabby Breazale also are back to help bolster the Red Raiders' chances.

Our Lady of Mercy Academy (4-6) coach Michael Grabowy says his team has a fighting chance to be competitive with some of the larger schools. The Villagers' top scorers are Morgan Falasca, Dana Fatcher, Amber Rains, Lauren Borck and Rebecca Hesser. OLMA restarted its diving program this season, which will be led by Rachel Goloff and Kayla Prato. Grabowy said the Villagers haven't had a diving program in about 15 years.

Shore Conference

B South

Barnegat (0-8) returns a strong core and a large number of dedicated newcomers, a combination that could put a few wins on the board. The Bengals are excited for the possibilities the new season brings. Taylor Teliszewski, Danielle Keller, Catie Hoops. Marissa Stadtmauer and Gretchen Mitchell are key returnees. Key newcomers include Laura Lawrance, Jessica Hespe, Celia Richie and Amy Bruno.

Lacey Township (4-7) will build around sophomores Leeanna Cass, Brianna Burke and Helana Franz. The trio sparked the Lions' last season and has gotten stronger. Cass was a second-team Press All-star in 2011-12. Second year coach Aaron Fritz says his team will be competitive in B South and that Central Regional is the team to beat.

A South

Southern Regional (7-3) coach Bill Entrikin is looking for his 50th win in his seventh year as coach. Entrikin has a 45-18 career record. The Rams will rely on their depth to get involved in the division race, which they last won in 2008. Conditioning could be an issue because Southern lost its home pool (St. Francis Community Center in Long Beach Township) to Hurricane Sandy. But Entrikin said that isn't going to stop his swimmers from competing at the highest level.

Tri-County Conference

Royal Division

Cumberland Regional (2-7) has a young team under second-year coach Lauren Blose. However, the Colts are loaded with depth, including two of their top four relay teams from last year. Blose noted Clearview Regional, Woodstown, Gloucester County Institute of Technology and Gloucester Catholic as the top teams in the division. Cumberland has one senior, 10 juniors, four sophomores and 14 freshmen, and Blose says they have a great opportunity to continue to grow together toward both short- and long-term goals.

Kelly Ashe, For The Press

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