changed for both boys and girls,” said Warriors head coach Kara Erskine. “I know we have a good team. We have a really good team. We have a lot of new swimmers that have come on that will help reinforce the ranks, so to speak. I think depth-wise we’ll do very well, especially on the ladies side. On the men’s side, we’ve got some new swimmers that have come on that are showing some interesting signs of promise, so we’ll see how that plays out.”
As a freshman last season, Queen Anne’s Hailey Ritter collected the only firstplace finish among Eastern Shore athletes competing in the season-ending Class 3A-2A-1A State Swimming Championship Meet at the University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center. Ritter churned through the water to a time of 24.65 seconds to win the 50-yard freestyle.
Will any Shore swimmers earn gold again this year? We’ll find out. Here’s a look at this season’s outlook for the local teams.
Kent Island The Buccaneers are facing a rebuilding season after losing 14 swimmers to graduation, said head coach Jen Traver, but they are glad to have a homepractice pool.
“We are happy to finally have a home practice pool on Kent Island at Club One, which has proven to help ease the stresses of late practices,” she said.
Nine boys are on the Bucs roster, including James Yates and Ari Fisher, who qualified for the state meet last season. Yates qualified in the 100 backstroke and 100 free and Fisher in the 100 breaststroke.
“In addition, juniors Ben Ferragamo, Owen Bradford and Ethan Bradford have proven to be assets so far this season,” said Traver.
Eleven girls are on the Bucs roster led by senior Natalie Schilling (freestyle) and juniors Grace Schilling (butterfly), and Hannah Crowe (freestyle, back).
“We have four new swimmers this year, three of which are freshman that will hopefully add to the team’s strengths,” said Traver.
Queen Anne’s Head coach Maggie Harris has the largest team she’s coached with 43 student-athletes. Harris said the dynamics of her teams are changing with overall strength shifting from the Lions’ boys back to their girls.
Ritter won the regionals and states in the 50 free and was region champ in the 100 fly. She brings speed to the Lions in addition to senior captain Abby Folker and sophomore Maisie Meehan, who both contribute to sprint free events. Senior captain Tess Masters brings versatility as she swims free, back, and fly events.
“As a veteran swimmer, she [Masters] is a true leader both in practice and at meets and has helped develop a sense of pride within the members of our team,” said Harris.
Harris likes what she has seen so far from freshmen McKenzie Hemingway and Sarah Boyer. “She [Hemingway] can swim any event from the 50 free to the 500 free and will certainly compete to win hardware at regionals and states,” said Harris.
The Lions’ girls team last won a state championship in 2009.
With the Browns, Queen Anne’s boys team placed second in the 2014 state meet. Scott Walton, a member of that team, returns as a senior captain. Walton offers versatility and can swim sprint free, IM, and breast, and is a contributor in relays. His brother, Cody Walton, a sophomore, competes in distance events while Jason Thomas swims backstroke and fly events. Other boys likely to collect points are seniors Dylan Renfrow, Robert Mazingo, and Matt Lutz and freshmen swimmers Robert Pfeiffer, Ivan Goncharuk and Shane Shennen.
At the holiday break, both teams are 2-1 with wins over Kent County and Kent Island and losses to Stephen Decatur.
“I am excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds, especially for our new swimming talent to make their debut on the regional and state scenes,” said Harris. “I know we will continue to be a strong presence in our dual, district and state competitions.”
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