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Over the past few years, Northgate has quietly become one of the best swimming programs in Class 2A.
In 2018, the boys won the school’s first WPIAL team title and, last year, a last-second victory in the 400 freestyle relay, the final event of the meet, pushed the Flames girls to their first crown.
In 2020, though Northgate is the defending girls champion, repeating may be a bit much to ask for a team that lost perhaps the best swimmer in school history in Karen Siddoway to graduation and senior Isabella Salerno, who opted not to come out for her senior year.
“We’re in a lull year because we basically lost two girls,” Northgate coach Jess McKelvey said. “We knew it was going to be a little bit of a stretch last year. We went for it and it worked out for us, for sure.”
While the girls may not be top heavy with stars, they will have quite a few qualifiers who will provide key points that will keep Northgate competitive.
“This year will be a little bit more of a reach,” McKelvey said. “We’ll still show up and do well, but we’ll show up with a lot of girls who have a lot of potential … and next year we’ll be back at it again.”
While the expectations are a touch lower for the girls this year, the boys may have enough to reclaim their title from Indiana. The Little Indians won the title by 18.5 points over the Flames a year ago.
Even so, both the boys and girls teams are building toward potential dual titles in 2021. That’s especially possible considering what is coming down the pike.
“I’ll just have some out of the park freshmen coming my way on both sides for next year,” McKelvey said. “We have always had a wonderful feeder program and, since our area is pretty small, we get a lot of interest in our area in the summer.”
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