Whitehall head swimming coach Pete Rile wants to win every meet this season, but he will take some moral victories along the way.
The Zephyrs recently dropped a 98-72 decision on the girls' side and a 122-44 decision on the boys' side to Liberty. Rile knew his club would be very competitive in the meet, but his team did make some valuable strokes toward the future.
This winter, Whitehall's swimming program appears to be ready to take the next step on both their boys' and girls' fronts.
Veteran coach Pete Rile will have 23 girls back in the fold, several of them being either district or state qualifiers.
Even though the boys' team only has eight swimmers back, seven of them are returning from last year's squad.
Over the past few months, Dave Weitzman received a friendly reminder on the benefits of coaching a high school girls' soccer team.
Weitzman, who last coached at the high school level in the 2000-01 season, was the recipient along with his players on one of the more memorable rides in the annals of Whitehall girls' soccer. It was just another in a magical string of seasons over the past few years in which the Zephyrs have reached the postseason.
During any other season, Northampton head hockey coach Brian Ruff might welcome a two-week layoff.
But this season's respite didn't exactly fall on an appropriate period. Ruff's team is off to a fast start in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League. The Konkrete Kids began this week's play with an unblemished 5-0 record and tied with Parkland (5-0) atop the league standings. They haven't played since they blitzed Liberty, 9-1, Nov. 3.
Sitting atop the standings of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) over the past few weeks, Northampton apparently has shaken off all the rust from an uncharacteristic 2013-14 season in which they finished with an overall 6-7-2 record.
The perennial champions have regained their winning ways as they were undefeated in the first five games of the season and likely will be a contender for the LVSHL crown this winter.
There wasn't a lot of time for the Whitehall girls soccer team to celebrate after winning the District 11 title last week.
Head girls' soccer coach Dave Weitzman admittedly didn't know much about Elizabethtown, his team's first-round opponent in the opening round of the PIAA state playoffs that began Tuesday. Even though they lost 5-1 (see story on page A10) Weitzman had little doubt the girls would be prepared.
Playing a team a fourth time in a season and seeking a first win in the process can certainly continue to generate a sense of familiarity as well as an ever-impending challenge.
In the last meeting before the District 11 semis between Whitehall and Parkland, the latter team defeated the Zephyrs, 3-2, on a series of penalty kicks in a match that was truly a contest of character and mettle. Earlier in the regular season, Parkland shutout Whitehall, 1-0, and 3-0, in two previous contests.
Photis Zagraphou recently ended his senior soccer season at Whitehall with a sense of frustration and satisfaction.
The senior captain wasn't satisfied with the fact that he missed six games this season due to a concussion, a period he believed was crucial to his team's success as they dropped five of the six contests in the process.
On the other hand, Zagraphou is excited about the face that the program is on the upswing despite missing district playoffs this season as well as the overall nature of the sport on the high school level.
For Tony Kleckner, it is all about soccer.
A junior on the Whitehall boys' soccer team, Kleckner has been surrounded and engulfed by soccer since he was first able to play the game at the age of five.
This season, however, Kleckner was ready to take his game to another level with the Zephyrs, who, despite missing the district playoffs, discovered a sense of new life under first-year head coach Chris Bastidas.
Before the season began, first-year Whitehall head girls soccer coach Dave Weitzman thought it would be a long shot that his squad would have 16 wins.
Fortunately, that long shot gradually transformed itself in a district playoff spot as well as an entry into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (EPC) championship game.
With their 1-0 win over Emmaus Tuesday night, the Zephyrs advanced to the title tilt and play Parkland Thursday night. Whitehall entered the game with an overall 164 record.