Big numbers and key returners should add up to numerous victories for the Liberty Hurricanes swim team this season.
"We're real excited with what we have going. We were just talking about how good our team looks," said Liberty coach Reik Foust.
Foust is joined by assistant Jeff Matyus for another season, and, for his first year, assistant Evan Kocon, a Liberty grad and former Hurricane swimmer will join the coaching staff.
"I'm happy with the staff and happy with the returning kids. We have a lot to look forward to this year," Foust said.
It didn't take long for Freedom swim coach Reik Foust to see what the Patriots are made of.
Hired in October and coming from Southern Lehigh, which is a 2A team, Foust already has high expectations after just a few weeks of practices.
"Practices have been incredible so far. The kids have shown up and swam beyond my expectations, and I'm planning to keep pushing them. I'm excited to see what they can do," Foust said.
Key returners for the girls team are Helen Hsu, Carly DelFranco, Brooke Munion, and Molly Magnan.
Coach Ron Garza wants to bring girls basketball back to the Freedom Patriots.
Garza was named Freedom's new head coach in October, and although he has had limited time with his varsity players, Garza brings discipline, stability, and experience to the Patriots in 2012.
"I've been around the game my whole life," Garza said.
Most recently, Garza coached Freedom's freshmen from 2006-2007 and the junior varsity squad from 2007-2011.
Garza is also bringing back assistant coaches, Rich Matyus and Jim Roth, who assisted Jerry Calabrese from 2007-2011.
The Liberty Hurricanes have gaps to fill, but have plenty of players from which to choose as the 2012 girls basketball season begins this weekend.
Entering her third season as head coach, Amy Yencho is still looking to fill open spots left by graduates Jody Chickey, CJ Hilliard, and JJ Hilliard.
"They're up for grabs. I have a bunch of returning seniors with limited playing time, so any of them could have the opportunity to step into one of three roles," Yencho said.
Liberty junior Mike Horvath didn't mind playing three baseball games in one afternoon during the recent Elite Championship Tournament Baseball (ECTB) tournament at ECTB Stadium in Allentown last month.
The 16-year-old took the initiative to arrange the 10-team tournament during the weekend of Oct. 13-14. Horvath organized the team mainly composed of Liberty teammates, organized fundraising, and also tried his hand at managing the 14-player squad. ECTB has several tournaments throughout the year along the entire east coast from Massachusetts to Maryland.
Low in numbers but high in quality, Bethlehem Catholic's girls basketball team will rely on size and experience for the 2012 season.
Key returners for the Hawks are senior forward/center, Bridget Smith, junior guard, Janelle Robinson, sophomore guard, Nicole Lacherza, and sophomore forward/guard, Kalista Walters.
Other seniors include forwards, Cecilia Perez, Ashley Brader, and Rachel Mulicka.
"We return six girls to our entire program. Our numbers are not what I'd like them to be, but we have some quality kids and 16 freshmen," said Coach Bill Lanscek.
Brandon Hall isn't ready to pronounce that this wrestling season will be one of Freedom's best campaigns in a long time. He'd rather have you check back in the middle of March to make that distinction.
The Patriots enter this winter with hype and momentum, but as Hall enters his third year as head coach of the program, he also approaches the heightened expectations with tempered optimism.
Mike Frew would prefer to have his Bethlehem Catholic basketball team fly under the radar.
After a 5-17 season a year ago, coupled with being lumped in the Lehigh Valley Conference's East division alongside Liberty, Freedom and Easton, flying under the radar is right where the Golden Hawks find themselves in the midst of the 2012 season.
But as Frew enters his second season at Becahi, a cautious optimism is noticeable from a program that has enjoyed many good years, only to fall on hard times most recently.
Freedom's basketball team will have similar staples from last year's team, but if there's one thing that the program doesn't want to have from a year agoit's an empty trophy case.
After a 21-5 season a year ago that ended in a gut wrenching 47-45 loss to Parkland in the District 11 4A quarterfinals, the Patriots were left without an LVC title or a district title in one of their best seasons ever.
Now the Patriots hope to be back in contention on both ends with a team that returns starting senior big men Derike Chiclana (C-6'4) and Nyreef Jackson (F-6'3).
Last year, Liberty's wrestling team went the entire season without taking a second of injury time.
It's a statistic that doesn't show up often, but one that got the attention of Penn State head coach and arguably the greatest collegiate wrestler of all-time, Cael Sanderson.
Sanderson retweeted the National Wrestling Coaches Association's original message last March on also posted it on his Facebook site. From an outsider's perspective, gaining recognition from one of the most respected wrestling idols is, well, pretty cool.