PHS, South converge on Penguin Invite

PARKERSBURG – It was the year 2000. Parkersburg High had established itself as one of the top swimming programs in West Virginia, but it lacked a way to showcase its talents to the local community.

That’s when coach Linda Alt decided it was time for the Big Reds to conduct a major swimming meet. Thus was born the PHS Penguin Invitational at the Parkersburg YMCA.

The 2014 version of the meet will be conducted there today with a star-studded field from around the Mountain State being joined by Gallia Academy.

Other West Virginia schools joining the host Big Reds include Parkersburg South, Wheeling Park, Williamstown, Bridgeport, Clarksburg Notre Dame, Buckhannon-Upshur, Fairmont Senior, North Marion, Liberty, Doddridge County, Lincoln, Point Pleasant, Wheeling Central, Philip Barbour and Robert C. Byrd.

Action at the YMCA’s eight-lane pool is set to begin at 1:50 p.m.

Alt, who plans to retire at the end of this season, expects the Big Red girls to win the meet while the boys race should come down to PHS, South, Bridgeport and Wheeling Park, the teams with the biggest rosters, as well as Notre Dame, which lacks quantity but possesses quality.

The two Parkersburg boys squads have gone back and forth this season, with each claiming major meet titles. PHS will be hampered today without the services of Nathan Burd and Peyton Hughes, but the Big Reds still have both the quantity and quality to make a title run.

Alt’s assistant, Terry Nisewarner, expects Sean Snider to compete in the freestyle distance races, the 200 and 500, which he has dominated all season. Preston Padden, Parkersburg’s top freestyle sprinter, may also try the breaststroke today. Snider and Padden give PHS strong relay teams. Others who are stepping up for PHS include Anthony Kist, Nic Cheuvront, and Stevie Cottrell.

Parkersburg South’s boys are led by Garrett Fink, Garrett DePergola, Kinzie Bailey, Joe Miller, Lane Burton and several other swimmers capable of adding to the Patriots’ point total.

“South is really our competition,” Nisewarner said. “They are really deep.”

The PHS girls are looking to win all three relay races. The Big Reds are led by Tara Foster, Hannah Wareheim, Jen Standley, Lexi Haislop, Claire Collett and Laura Maloney.