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Prep boys swimming and diving: Spartans look to improve on last year's finish

After a number of athletes posted strong showings at the sectional meet last year, coach Bill Punyko hopes the team can improve and surprise a few teams this season.

Male swimming freestyle.
Superior’s Paolo Pagnucci swims to a second place finish in the 200 yard Individual Medley during the Spartans meet with Mesabi East on Tuesday, Jan. 11, in Superior. Pagnucci is among the veterans looking to improve
Jed Carlson / 2022 File / Superior Telegram
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Head coach: Bill Punyko

Assistant coaches: Kate Long.

Returning athletes: Eli Benson, Nolan Bird, Evan DeMars, Joe Duzell, Colin Hill, Abe Hirvela, Connor Kittleson, Will Monroe, Paolo Pagnucci, Arthur Pfeil, Danny Schnell and Wyld Wittkopf.

New faces to watch: Sterling Duncan, Oso Fish, Peyton Franta, Landon Hosclaw, Carter Hurlow, Keegan Mandrinich, David Melander, Jayden Olson, Dancha Strauch, Ethan Trapp, Hugo Wittkopt, Trevor Peterson and Noah Krieg.

What are some areas of strength for the team?

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"Nolan Bird, Eli Benson, Paolo Pagnucci, Joe Duzell, Arthur Pfeil and Evan DeMars all placed at the sectional championship meet last year, and we're looking to improve our positions. I'm also looking for some surprises from a number of returning and new swimmers as well," coach Bill Punyko said.

What will be the team's biggest challenge this season?

"Moving into the Lake Superior Conference, all teams from Minnesota can have middle schoolers compete at the varsity level. WIAA forbids that from happening, which prevents us from recruiting and retaining athletes. You will see teenagers compete at the national and international levels in swimming and diving, yet the WIAA feels that middle schoolers aren't mature enough. This is absolutely foolish and limits their development," Punyko said.

Coach's assessment

"The SHS swim and dive team is on an upward swing for the next few years with the underclassmen coming into their own and the increased numbers of new swimmers," Punyko said. "I'm excited for this season, and we may surprise a few teams in the area."

MORE PREP SPORTS COVERAGE:
All three players scored their 1,000th career points on Tuesday night.

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