BY MATT VAN WAGENEN
The Lady Barons got a boost after several athletes returned from studying abroad in Austria and rejoined the ranks of the women’s swimming and diving and women’s basketball teams.
Returning from Austria in December for the women’s swimming and diving team were juniors Aimee Vunovich and Allie Kelly, and for the women’s basketball team, sophomore Monica Dawyot. The return of these athletes has already had a significant impact on their respective programs.
“The adjustment has been smooth due to their openness coming into this semester,” swimming and diving head coach Rebecca Recznik said. “They came onto the team without any preconceived ideas of how the team or season would be.”
Despite potential difficulties in returning to an existing roster after not swimming for a semester, Recznik was impressed with how the girls have jumped right in and boosted team morale.
“It takes a lot of patience and commitment in order to try to catch up to the rest of the team in their training,” Recznik said. “Both Allie and Aimee have been applying themselves with intensity, with excitement, and without hesitation.”
Vunovich and Kelly have both played roles in pushing their teammates in relay events since they have been back. Vunovich was part of the 200-yard medley relay that broke the school record at the last home meet of the season with a time of 2:01.22.
“During swim camp, the first two weeks of training of the spring season, the team started to really bond with each other,” Recznik said. “You can see how the combination of intense training and team unity has been positively impacting all of the girls’ times.”
Although the boost has been significant for the swimming and diving team, a new policy has been implemented stating that any swimmer or diver, starting this year’s season, will be required to take a year off from competition when they go to Austria.
“The reason for this is that the swimming and diving season is long and covers most of the fall and half of the spring semesters,” Recznik said. “It is difficult for everyone on the team to adjust to new faces, attitudes, etc. when people come back from or leave for the Austria Program.”
However, Recznik added that the ladies who previously committed to the program and planned to go to Austria before the new policy was enacted are being Grandfathered into it.
Also garnering benefits of athletes being back from Austria is the women’s basketball team. Head coach, Suzy Delaney, has been impressed with sophomore forward Monica Daywot and her ability to flow seamlessly right back into her groove with the team.
“We’re very happy to have her back,” said Delaney. “She’s jumped right in and has picked up where she left off last year.”
With this year adding seven new athletes to the Lady Barons basketball team, Monica has continued to perform well with new teammates and has made an immediate impact, Delaney said.
Both teams are in the midst of giving all they have left in the end of their seasons as they vie to make it in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The swimmers and divers are preparing for the AMCC championships and the basketball team is pushing forward to make the playoffs.