Joe Smith, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports, University

Morgantown, University swim teams ready to start season

MORGANTOWN — The first meet of the season may not be the most important, but it can go a long way in setting the tone.

Morgantown High and University both look to evaluate where they stand as both schools open the season with the Mohawk Invitational, at noon today at the WVU Natatorium.

“It’s an important meet because it’s a home meet and everyone wants to do well, but this meet let’s us know where we are starting, and where and how to improve,” University coach Joanna White said. “I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on this meet.

Morgantown’s first-year coach Lisa Henline will look for her team, which returns 17 swimmers from last season’s squad, to hit the pool with a competitive edge to start the year.

“We’re excited to open the season at home,” she said. “We want the team to come out competitive — with any meet it is exciting to compete, but with tomorrow’s meet it would be great to come out strong at home.”

The Hawks, historically, field a small unit, and this year will prove no different. White will look to her senior leaders and a group of battle-tested underclassman to lead the way. Perhaps the biggest asset the group will have is teamwork — the group has built a bond, with much of this year’s roster returning from a state-meet experienced squad.

“Most of our members have swimming knowledge and some experience, and we have a supportive team with teammates that work well with each other. Our strength is our ability to work together and work hard,” White said.

“I’m excited to see what the seniors do this season. Some of these swimmers I’ve been with since middle school track. It’s been an exciting experience to watch them grow through the years.”

The Mohigans return less experience than their cross-town rivals, but Henline found herself thrilled with the growth she’s seen in preseason training, and expects her squad to have big things in store.

“Our team has shown so much growth already, and we’re excited to see how they perform in their first competition,” she said. “We have many swimmers with goals this season to make it to the state meet and we will do our best to make sure they succeed.”