FALL sports preview: Washtenaw County's high school girls swimming and diving teams at a glance
AnnArbor.com's fourth of 10 fall sports previews takes a look at Washtenaw County's girls swimming and diving teams
Lexie Beemer (jr.), Skyline: The reigning Division 3 state champion in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.71), Beemer is Skyline’s most seasoned state swimmer. She also placed fifth in the state in the 200 IM (2:14.37) and swam legs in Skyline’s second-place 200 medley and third-place 200 freestyle relay teams.
Stephanie Boyle (sr.), Saline: Last season Boyle placed third the 100 breaststroke (1:05.97) and fifth in the 200 IM (2:08.24) at the Division 1 state finals, helping Saline win its first team state championship. Additionally, Boyle helped the Hornets’ 400 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay take second and third, respectively, at states.
Hannah Cowley (sr.), Pioneer: Cowley defended her two state titles by claiming the 200 freestyle (1:51.75) and 100 freestyle (:51.55) races last fall - her 100 time eclipsing the automatic All-American standard. She was also part of two state championship relays.
Anna DeMonte (jr.), Huron: Last year’s coaches association Division 1 Swimmer of the Year, as well as AnnArbor.com’s Swimmer of the Year, DeMonte set a state record in the 200 IM at the D1 state finals (2:00.72). She was a state champ in the 100 butterfly, as well. Both events earned her automatic All-American nods.
Meghan Woods (sr.), Huron: Woods, named last year’s AnnArbor.com Diver of the Year, took fifth at last season’s D1 state championships. She took runner-up at the SEC Red Championships and the MISCA meet to Temperance Bedford’s Cheyenne Cousineau.
CHELSEA BULLDOGS The Bulldogs are led by what coach Dave Jolly calls “a pretty powerful senior group.” Chelsea will need strong performances from those seniors and the rest of the Bulldogs’ 17 some swimmers to try to knock Dexter off its SEC White throne, where the Dreadnaughts have sat for the past 12 years.
Coach: Dave Jolly (19th year) Last season: The Bulldogs placed ninth at the Division 3 state finals and were runners-up in the SEC White to Dexter. Key returners: Claudia Bravo (sr.), Lauren Dark (sr., D), Jaclyn Murphy (sr.), Hanna Olsen (sr.). Key newcomers: Katie Eisley (so.). Strength: Senior leadership and experienced, solid swimmers in every event. Weakness: The backstroke. Chelsea touts depth in every other event. Outlook: The Bulldogs are gunning to get back to a top-3 finish at the state championships and win the SEC White. With a senior-heavy lineup, Chelsea has the promise to do so. Coach Jolly says: “We have good camaraderie. No drama, which is sort of nice. I haven’t had a girls team in awhile with no drama. It’s been nice.”
DEXTER DREADNAUGHTS Like clockwork, the Dreadnaughts have hauled in a dozen straight conference Southeastern Conference trophies and the team lost just one senior to graduation from last year’s title team. This year’s team will be led by seniors such as Casey Edwards, a Division 2 state runner-up in the 100 butterfly.
Coach: Cory Bergen (15th year) Last season: The Dreadnaughts went 12-2 in dual meets on their way to winning the SEC White title and finished eighth at the Division 2 state finals. Key returners: Casey Edwards (sr.), Morgan Eisele (sr.), Paige Garwood (sr.), Lisa Krompton (sr.), Bridget Morgan (so.), Laura Steavenson (sr.). Key newcomers: Sabrina Lomax (fr.), Taylor Schilling (fr.), Laura Stanton (fr.). Strength: Experienced senior class. Dexter returns all but one of its scorers from last year’s state meet. Weakness: Underclassmen depth. Outlook: Dexter is undoubtedly the favorite to repeat as SEC White champs and should climb up the Division 2 state finals standings. Coach Bergen says: “The underclassmen have to pick up the slack to give us that depth, and start to move into the top spots. I see some promise. I think we have a long way to go. We have until November, and we’re going to need that time.”
HURON RIVER RATS Bringing back AnnArbor.com’s Swimmer and Diver of the Year, Anna DeMonte (also the state coaches association’s Division 1 Swimmer of the Year) and Meghan Woods, bodes well for the 2010 River Rats. The question is, can Huron surround its top talent with complementary pieces? If the River Rats can find enough depth, they will be right on the tails of Pioneer and Saline.
Coach: Jenni Wilkening (10th year) Last season: The River Rats posted a 10-7 dual meet record, their best since 2001. Huron went on to finish fourth in the SEC Red championships and fifth at the D1 finals. Key returners: Anna DeMonte (jr.), Elizabeth Gelb (sr.), Annie Tamblyn (jr.), Meghan Woods (sr., D). Key newcomers: Samadhi Kiridena (fr.). Strength: The River Rats bring back a bevy of talent, including MHSAA Dream Team selection and reigning AnnArbor.com Swimmer of the Year Anna DeMonte, and AnnArbor.com Diver of the Year Meghan Woods. Weakness: One area of concern for Huron is its lack of scoring-depth in conference meets, where rivals Pioneer and Saline will have plenty of swimmers to go around. Outlook: With a slew of vital upperclassmen back in the fold, the River Rats are looking to climb the ranks of the SEC Red and at the state championships. Their biggest challengers will be league rivals Pioneer and Saline. Coach Wilkening says: “(Expectations are) to get better, continually develop as a team and create smarter swimmers and divers.”
LINCOLN RAILSPLITTERS There’s nowhere to go but up for the Railsplitters and first-year coach Adam Cook, who swam for years at Eastern Michigan University. Lincoln’s numbers, 20-25, are up from years past, which isn’t a bad place to start.
Coach: Adam Cook (1st year) Last season: Lincoln had zero wins within the SEC White, finishing at the bottom of the division. Key returners: Kaitlyn Boughton (sr.), Corrinne Murch (sr.), Shelby Robinette (jr.), Johannah Sacer (sr.), Danielle Serracciolo (sr.), Tawni Tucker (jr.). Key newcomers: Abby Lange (fr.), Alex Wade (fr.). Strength: Balance of upperclassmen and underclassmen. Weakness: Experience and diving. The Railsplitters didn’t have any divers last year. This year, a few newcomers are hitting the boards. Outlook: The Railsplitters are trying to build their confidence in a tough league. Although another winless season may be on the horizon, Lincoln should be inching closer to the win column this season. Coach Cook says: “We just really want to improve upon last year and make sure everybody’s at practice and dedicated and ready to for every meet. Everybody’s working really hard.”
MILAN BIG REDS Milan brings back all but three girls from last season’s Huron League championship squad. Six of those swimmers competed in the Division 3 state finals. Leading the Big Reds will be junior Heather Kiger, a state champ in the 100 butterfly who also swam a leg of Milan’s state-title 200 freestyle relay.
Coach: Dan Heikka (7th year) Last season: Milan finished 11-2 in dual meets, winning the Huron League. The Big Reds went on to place seventh at the Division 3 state finals. Key returners: Lauren Cook (so.), Heather Kiger (jr.), Anna Hargrove (jr.), Emily Weber (sr.). Key newcomers: Samantha Leacher (so.), Emily Pinter (jr.), Sam Stokes (fr.). Strength: Depth. Milan is a solid three-deep in every event. Weakness: State-level experience. Only a handful of Milan girls have participated in the state meet. Outlook: The Big Reds are frontrunners to repeat as Huron League champs and should be back in the thick of a top-five finish at state. Coach Heikka says: “The team kind of runs itself at this point. The girls show up and they work hard. It’s a fun time. I had six girls at the state meet last year. I plan on having a lot more than that this year.”
PIONEER PIONEERS It’s no surprise who the Pioneers have on their radar: Saline, last year’s SEC Red and Division 1 state champs. It was, in fact, the first time in nine years Pioneer didn’t take the state crown. Coach Dennis Hill enters his 38th year with a team full of seasoned seniors who have a bevy of state final races under their collective belts - like senior Hanna Cowley, who has raced in 12...and has won them all.
Coach: Dennis Hill (38th year) Last season: The Pioneers placed second behind Saline in the SEC Red championships and took fourth at the D1 finals. Key returners: Olivia Barrow (jr.), Hanna Cowley (sr.), Paige Kostishak (sr.), Julie Lovejoy (sr.), Molly Shanley (sr.), Emily Stalmack (sr.). Key newcomers: Too soon to say. Strength: Seniors. The Pioneers’ top six swimmers, who each competed at state, are all seniors. Weakness: Relative depth. Most coaches would trade coach Hill for his roster in a second, but its not as deep as the juggernaut program has grown accustomed to. Outlook: This fall has the makings of Pioneer and Saline once again battling - and Huron making a push - for the top spot in the SEC Red. The trend should continue at the state finals. Coach Hill notes that Holland West Ottawa, which finished third at states, will be strong this season, too. Coach Hill: “We have a lot of kids that are going to have to step up. We’re going to be OK. We’re shooting for the top-four in the state.”
SALINE HORNETS Todd Brunty and the Hornets march into 2010 fresh off an unprecedented season. In 2009, Saline captured the program’s first Division 1 state championship, coming on the heels of an SEC Red title. Saline returns nearly its entire lineup and is looking to repeat the same accomplishments this fall.
Coach: Todd Brunty (4th year) Last season: The Hornets had a perfect 15-0 dual meet record and were SEC Red and Division 1 state champs. Key returners: Stephanie Boyle (sr.), Stephanie Bundas (sr.), Nikki Flynn (jr.), Maddy Frost (so.), Nicole Ozminkowski (sr.). Key newcomers: Hannah Lau (fr.), Kate Rogers (fr.), Serena Yan (fr.). Strength: Depth. And Saline’s numbers only continue to grow. Weakness: There aren’t too many weak spots in a defending state champ whose lineup hasn’t changed much. Outlook: There’s no doubt that the Hornets are eyeing league- and state-title repeats. Coach Brunty says: “We want to build upon last year’s success; continue to grow as a team and as young ladies.”
SKYLINE EAGLES Reigning third-place finishers in the D3 state finals, Skyline will be tested this season as it moves into Division 2. With a core of sophomore and junior state qualifiers returning, the Eagles are seeking to add to the list of top-tier swimming programs in Washtenaw County.
Coach: Maureen Isaac (3rd year) Last season: The second-year Eagles finished with a 5-7 dual meet record before taking fifth in the SEC Red. Skyline went on to place third in the Division 3 state meet. Key returners: Lexie Beemer (jr.), Rebecca Dickey (so.), Elena Ghormly (jr., D) Kim Graziano (so.), Stassia McGlothlin (so.), Ashleigh Shanley (so.). Key newcomers: Shannon Cowley (fr.). Strength: Skyline has a bevy of experience in the breaststroke, including five state qualifiers. Weakness: Being in only their third year of existence, the Eagles don’t tout the numbers of bigger SEC squads such as Pioneer, Saline and Huron. Outlook: Competing in Division 2 will give Skyline stiffer competition, which will help the Eagles in the long run and push for potentially another top-three state finish. The Eagles will also be a more competitive SEC Red opponent. Coach Isaac says: “We have many athletes ready to show big improvements and provide needed depth. We plan to have all of our previous qualifiers make it to the state meet again this year as we move to Division 2.”
YPSILANTI PHOENIX Ypsilanti competed for the first time in the SEC last season, finishing just above winless Lincoln in the White Division standings. The Phoenix only have 20 swimmers to date and are hoping their experience can help carry them to contention with opponents.
Coach: Eric Stanczyk (3rd year) Last season: The Phoenix finished fifth out of six teams in the SEC White Division. Key returners: Karen Bates (jr.), Samantha Goven (jr.), Kelly Keelon (sr.), Elana Nanney (jr.). Key newcomers: Alexis Long (fr.), Sally Smith (fr.). Strength: Team unity. Ypsilanti is a small group of 20, but according to Stanczyk they’re a close-knit group of juniors and seniors. Weakness: Numbers. Competing with only 20 swimmers doesn’t bode well against the significantly bigger SEC teams. Outlook: Ypsilanti is aiming to move up from the lower-level of the SEC White standings. Coach Stanczyk says: “Swimming at Ypsi is not a big sport, but the girls that come out are interested and they’ve been swimming together for awhile. We just want to have an enjoyable season.”