Only one area swimmer scored points at last year’s Class 4 state meet, but the odds are pretty good that Winchester-Frederick County should make more of an impact at SwimRVA in Richmond this year.
James Wood senior Jackson Sitton — The Winchester Star Boys’ Swimmer of the Year for the 2018-19 season — was the one person who scored points last year, taking ninth in the 200 freestyle and 14th in the 500 free. Sitton had the area’s fastest times in the 200-meter free (1:57.67) and the 400-meter free (4:19.06).
Sitton — who has signed with NCAA Division III Lynchburg — could finish in the top eight and earn an all-state medal this year, and Colonel freshman Paul Warnagiris might do the same. Warnagiris’ best times include a 1:02.39 in the 100-yard breast and a 2:01.41 in the 200-yard IM in two separate meets in March. Each of those times would have earned him points at last year’s Class 4 state meet.
“[Warnagiris] has worked really hard with Winchester Swim Team,” said first-year Colonels head coach Jessica Barr, who is an assistant with WST. “It’s exciting to see him kind of take on this new role as a high school swimmer. And the other kids, even though he’s a freshman, you can tell they look up to him and want to really get where he is. When he’s working hard, it really impacts the rest of the lane that he’s in.”
Sitton and Warnagiris will look to help James Wood improve on its fourth-placing showing at last year’s Class 4 Northwestern District meet. Sherando coach Joe Knight believes that locally, a Colonels squad that has also added talented freshmen Andrew Thompson and Trent Rakowski will probably be the team to beat. Kettle Run is the defending district champion.
Sherando (third in the district last year) boasts a couple of particularly strong swimmers in junior Peter Pham (21st in Class 4 in the 100 free, area’s fastest meter time in 55.72; 23rd in the 50 free, No. 3 area time of 25.63) and junior Trevor Cram, who ranked third in the area in the 100-meter breast (1:14.89).
Handley senior Mercer Love is the only returning Judge who placed in the top four at last year’s district meet, taking third in the 100 backstroke. Handley placed fifth at last year’s district meet.
Millbrook (sixth in the district meet) also features three swimmers who each had top-four finishes at last year’s district meet — senior Timothy McCarthy (second in the 100 backstroke), sophomore Aidan Post (second in the 500 freestyle) and junior Ben Rayburn (fourth in 100 butterfly).
The Clarke County boys are in the same position that the girls are in terms of Class 2 state standing — with the departure of Maggie Walker and George Mason to Class 3, the third-place Eagles are the top returning team state finisher in Class 2.
The Eagle boys had a couple of people unexpectedly not come out for the team. But Clarke County has a slightly larger team than the girls (10 compared to five) and Eagles coach Carol Marshall believes her boys can fare well at the state meet.
Clarke County will be led by senior Derek Sprincis, who earned all-state honors in the 500 free (third, No. 2 area time in the 400-meter free of 4:26.50) and 200 IM (fourth, top area time of 2:20.25 in meters). Sophomore Liam Whalen was fifth in the 200 free (third fastest area 200-meter time, 2:08.75) to earn all-state honors and ninth in the state in the 500 free. Senior Logan Chaillet, Whalen and Sprincis were each on the 200 free relay team that placed fourth in Class 2 last year.
The following is a glance at each area team:
SherandoCoach: Joe Knight, 15th season.
Last year: 3rd in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 9th in Region 4C.
Key losses: Michael Leckie, Mathew Pham.
Key returnees: Josh Bauer, Sr.; Dylan Cadd, Sr.; Trevor Cram, Jr.; Erik Grafel, Jr.; Ashraf Ibrahim, So.; Ben Jensen, So.; Brenden Johnson, Jr.; Peter Pham, Jr.; Ryan Simmons, Jr.
Key newcomers: Ryan Murphy, Jr.; Ben Stange, So.; Brady Spiker, Jr.; Derrian Britt, Jr.
Knight’s outlook: “Peter Pham is going to lead the pack and be a captain for us this year. He’s been working hard, training hard. Although he made it to the state meet last year, he didn’t qualify for the finals in either of his events. I know he’s highly motivated and has the capability of doing that this year. Trevor Cram had really good district and regional meets last year. I think he’s starting to realize how good he can be. He’s been working pretty hard. He has an outside chance to maybe qualify for states as well. But we really lack experience and the depth that some of the other teams are going to have this year. We were successful in recruiting about four or five new boys onto the team, but they’re very inexperienced swimmers. It’s going to be a learning experience for a lot of the boys, but what we’ve seen in the pool we really like so far in terms of the overall enthusiasm, energy and the hard work the newcomers have put into the program.”
First competition: Dec. 7 at Central at Signal Knob Recreation Center
James WoodCoach: Jessica Barr, 1st season.
Last year: 4th in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 8th in Region 4C; 21st in Class 4 state.
Key losses: Brian Hua, David Dorsey.
Key returnees: Jackson Sitton, Sr., Brendan Cassidy, Jr.
Key newcomers: Paul Warnagiris, Fr.; Andrew Thompson, Fr.; Trent Rakowski, Fr.
Barr’s outlook: “I think it’s a great group of kids [boys and girls]. They all have very evident drive to get better even if they’ve been with the team since they were freshmen and are now seniors, or newcomers that are still not even sure what all the four strokes are. I’ve been very impressed with the level of effort they’ve been giving both in the pool and out. With the addition of Paul, Andrew and Trent, I’m hoping we can qualify a competitive state relay. Andrew specializes in fly, and the effort he’s given has been impressive so far. Hopefully, he can get to states in that. Trent I think wants to specialize in breaststroke, but that might change. I think he can be competitive in all four strokes and we’ll probably put him in the IM quite frequently.”
First competition: Friday vs. Handley, Riverside at Jim Barnett Park
HandleyCoach: Tag Grove, 18th season.
Last year: 5th in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 13th in Region 4C.
Key losses: Brian Tufts, Ethan Moss.
Key returnees: Mercer Love, Sr.; Chris Stearns, Jr.; Henry Fowler, So.; Ryan Stickley, So.
Key newcomers: Brendan Love, So.
Grove’s outlook: “We’re inexperienced [for boys and girls]. So for the first time, we’re not lifting as a team. They can do it now at the beginning, but when you’re doing it week after week it really gets to be a lot when January and February rolls around, and they get worn down. Maybe this time next year it will be something we bring back in, but for now, I just want them to focus on their time here. We’re going to focus on individual improvement and not so much the record at the end of the season. If our veterans want to make it to states, they’ll have to continue to work hard.”
First competition: Friday vs. James Wood, Riverside at Jim Barnett Park
MillbrookCoach: Priscilla Elliott, 2nd season.
Last year: 6th in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 11th in Region 4C.
Key losses: None.
Key returnees: Ben Rayburn, Jr.; Tim McCarthy, Jr.; Brennan Dooley, Sr.; Michael Olejarz, Sr.; Aidan Post, So.; Nathan Ready, Jr.; Ricardo Valentin Serpa, So.
Key newcomers: Nicolas Barreda, Fr.
Elliott’s outlook: ”I think the boys are going to have a really great season. I think that Ben Rayburn is going to be a big deal this year. I think he’ll do really well in the 100 fly. We’d like to send a couple of our male swimmers to states, and I’d love to see a men’s relay qualify for regionals. I think our 200 free relay will be the strongest.”
First competition: Friday at Manassas Park Community Center
Clarke CountyCoach: Carol Marshall, 18th season.
Last year: 2nd in Bull Run District and Region 2B meets; 3rd in Class 2 state.
Key losses: Eamon Juday, Ryan Nesslerodt, Mateo Smith.
Key returnees: Derek Sprincis, Sr.; Logan Chaillet, Jr.; Cooper Lowell, Jr.; Liam Whalen, So.
Key newcomers: Dylan Rosenbaum, Fr.; Hudson Sauers, Fr.; Lucas Welch, Fr.
Marshall’s outlook: “I think Derek is going to finish out his senior year rather strong. He’s looking pretty solid in the water right now. Liam Whalen is swimming awfully well right now, and I think he’s going to a top contender [at the state meet]. Cooper’s put on some muscle over the summer and he’s going pretty strong through the water right now. It might be a better year for him as well. We’re going to have to be a little bit patient with our freshmen, but Lucas Welch is showing some promise in breaststroke. We just have to work on his timing to help get his speed up a little bit. The boys have the potential to do some damage at the state meet because the roster is twice as large as the girls.”
First competition: Thursday vs. Broadway, Spotswood, Turner Ashby at Signal Knob Recreation Center