By: Tim Birney | | January 14, 2021 | Photo courtesy Chris Manning


ATHENS — Coming off NTL championship seasons, both Athens swim teams return a host of District 4 qualifiers, and look to be very competitive in 2021.

“We have some solid swimmers on the boys and girls team — several district qualifiers, who are normally year-round swimmers,” said Athens boys coach Mark Keister.  

“We do have a couple of swimmers who were top-10 point-earners and district qualifiers that decided not to come out this season.  

“The remaining swimmers are getting a good amount of attention and working hard to catch up in this ‘short’ season,” added Keister.

The boys were 7-3 last season, and return seniors Lucas Aquilio, Zac Gowin, Mason Henderson, and Joe Toscano, who were all District 4 qualifiers, as well as juniors Reuven Gifeisman, and sophomores Chris DeForest and Ethan Denlinger — also District qualifiers.

The newcomers are senior Asher Ellis and freshman Joe Blood.

“Asher (Ellis) is a good athlete,” said Keister. “He’ll likely swim freestyle and breaststroke.”

The Lady Wildcats also return a slew of District qualifiers, led by sophomore Taegan Williams.

“(Taegan) broke the 500 free school-record at Districts,” said Keister. “She has the potential to break additional records this year.”

Also returning are seniors Kaitlin Kisner and Raven Gardner, sophomore Mea Abbott, Taylar Fisher, and Allison Thoman, and well as senior divers Emma Roe, who finished fourth at Districts, and Katie Lynch.

The Lady Wildcats also have a long list of newcomers, including sophomore Meltem VanHelder, and freshmen Macaria Benjamin, Grace Cobb, Rebecca Gifeisman, Emily Henderson,
Madelyn Jones, Isabella Potter and Emily Marshall.

“Our newcomers have good potential that may produce a couple district qualifiers,” Keister said.

Keister is also excited there will be a postseason.

“We got word recently that we will have secured a district championship meet site this year and plans for States,” he said.

“We will again compete at Bloomsburg for diving — boys and girls split morning and afternoon as normal — and Williamsport High School for swimming, but the boys and girls meet will be separate days.

“Another new thing is a virtual swim meet.  We will be able to compete with any team in the Commonwealth,” added Keister.

Athens opens the season today at Towanda.


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020). Southern Tier Sports Report is set to launch in 2021.