Aquatic facilities around the region are filled with team chants and spirited performances as the 2013-14 high school swimming season is underway. Old faces have moved on, new faces are on the scene, plus more teams are in the pipeline as, for the first time, club teams from several Henrico County schools will begin participating as swimming draws closer to becoming what it has been in Hanover County for some time now, a full-participatory Central Region sport.
What’s in store for the new campaign? We began to catch a glimpse of what could be this week as teams dived into action.
For head coach Karen Seeber and the Atlee Raiders, the key is replacing stellar seniors, from Jesse Burnley, now starring as a freshman at George Mason, to the student leadership heart and soul of the program, Caitlin Sargeant.
Back to lead the charge on the boys side is Wyatt Grubb, who performed in four races in the Raiders’ meet opener with Maggie Walker Governor’s School and Goochland on Thursday at Randolph-Macon’s Brock Center. Grubb won the 100 Backstroke in 57.26, placed second in the 200 Individual Medley in 1:59.82, and was the anchor leg in the 400 Freestyle Relay who lost .28 of a second to Maggie Walker.
Chris Isabelle, who ran the second leg of that relay, won the 100 Freestyle in 54.69, besting his next competitor by nearly five seconds, and also won the 50 Freestyle in 23.90, bettering his seed time by over half a second.
On the girls side, Michele Mackey returns, winner of the 100 Butterfly Thursday in 1:02.91. Mackey was second in the 100 Breaststroke in 1:17.47. Another name of note is Mica Baker, who narrowly lost the 50 Freestyle at 27.00 by .06, and was second in the 100 Backstroke in 1:09.72. Morgan Steiner, who won the 500 Freestyle, is key to their endurance success.
Other swimmers of note ready to make their mark for Atlee include Will Schroeder, Ben Whisnant, Madison Grubb, Thomas Curley, Erin Meeker, and 14-year olds Ryan Reutti and Emily Seay.
For Patrick Henry, lots of experience returns for head coach Bob Flanagan. Those swimmers helped the Patriots get by rival Lee-Davis in Friday’s season opener 198-142.
The boys are anchored by Thomas Perkins and Ted Schubert, both part of the 200 Medley Relay team that opened the Lee-Davis meet with a 15-second win (1:45.46). Perkins also won the 200 Freestyle in 1:53.53 and 100 Butterfly in 58.10. Schubert was victorious in the 200 IM at 2:00.06 and the 100 Backstroke in 53.87, besting his seed time by .41.
Senior Kyle Koren was tops in the 50 Freestyle in 24.59 and the 100 Freestyle in 56.25, just ahead of teammate Clay Neal in 57.65. Sophomore Dalton Nash will be a factor in 500 Freestyle competition, winning his first meet Friday in 5:55.38.
On the girls side, Meade Reihl is ready for action in the 50 Freestyle, victorious Friday in 28.32, and the 100 breaststroke, winning in 1:20.97, while sophomore Jamie Doyle is set to make her mark, winning the 200 IM in 2:39.22. Allyson Flinn, another sophomore, brings youth to the distance races as does Nash. She won the Girls 500 Freestyle Friday in 6:59.75.
Putting Reihl and fellow junior Madeline Montgomery with freshmen Madison Brown and Marielle Robinson proved to be a winning combination in the 200 Freestyle Relay, winning in exactly two minutes flat.
More youth to be served for the Patriot girls is found in the 100 Backstroke, with sophomore Josi Riederer winning (1:19.47) and freshman Samantha Shuler not far behind (1:21.16).
The Patriots cruised to the second team victory Saturday at the Ashland YMCA over Goochland to improve to 2-0.
For Lee-Davis, the girls look to Mary-Kate Mulvaney for senior leadership. Mulvaney anchored the winning 200 Medley Relay team (2:16.25) and was second in the 50 Freestyle (29.60).
The next generation is led by freshman Meryl Carlton, a part, along with Mulvaney, of the 400 Freestyle Relay winners (4:31.88), as well as second in the 100 Breaststroke (1:23.19) and 200 IM (2:43.28).
Fellow freshman Morgan Boyle turned heads with victories in the 200 Freestyle in 2:25.16 and the 100 Butterfly (1:20.09). Boyle, Carlton, and others will look to fill the void left by graduating Central Region Swimmer of the Year Jennifer Vieni, now at James Madison.
On the boys side, senior Trevor Durbin will be joined by a plethora of young talent, including juniors Van Pearce and Scott Simmons, freshman Tyler Carneal, The group doesn’t enjoy some of the depth of our county schools, but will hope to grow that as the year, and the meets, roll on.
Hanover, fresh off their opener last week versus Colonial Heights, faced Atlee last night at Randolph-Macon. The Hawks lose several to graduation, but return lots of experience, including Sarah Browning, Katrina Gauntt, Lanning Blaser, Chase Blackburn, Shane Henry, Matt Lara, Holly Loving, Kayla McClure and Angelina Piccolomini.
There are plenty of new faces for head coach Stuart Bernstein, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Hawks. Chris Fagan, Tommy Newton, Seth Gulas and Jack Iglehart are names to watch for the boys, while Mattie Grant, Maria Ionova, and Brittany Johnson look to make their mark for the girls.
The Hawks are, for now, in a unique situation, being the only school in Conference 20 with a swimming team. Glen Allen and J.R. Tucker hope to change that soon as they form club teams for this season. Still, Bernstein has his goals.
“Among the teams we swim, I would like to see us win at least half of our meets and have a good showing at Kecoughtan,” Bernstein noted.
The Kecoughtan Invitational, scheduled for Jan. 11 in Newport News, is the top regular-season meet for Central Region teams each season, and an opportunity to see future state championship competition talent from other parts of the state.
All four county schools will participate at Kecoughtan 30 days from now.