2016 Swim Preview

WINCHESTER — Clarke County head coach Carol Marshall said her girls were nervous as they prepared to face Sherando in their season-opening swim meet on Dec. 1.

“They were a little intimidated by them, because they have a number of quality swimmers,” Marshall said. “They were saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to get beat.’ I told them you guys are just as good, if not better. I told them to keep their heads in there, and they came out with a little confidence after that meet.”

The Eagles defeated the Group 4A Warriors 90-80 that night at the Signal Knob Recreation Center in Strasburg, and Clarke County hasn’t stopped rolling since.


The Eagles are off to a 4-0 start in dual meets this year, defeating Bull Run District rivals William Monroe (77-27) and Strasburg (83-21) on Dec. 2, then defeating another 4A school in Millbrook 106-64 on Tuesday.

Just as importantly, the Eagles — who finished fourth at the Group 2A state meet last year — are setting themselves up for a strong postseason run.

A Clarke County team that features every key swimmer from last year as well as some talented new additions has already qualified all three of its relay teams for the state meet.

Clarke County also has qualified for three individual events at the state meet, with sophomore Maeve Lyman doing so in the 200 individual medley, the 100 breaststroke and the 50 freestyle. As a freshman, Lyman placed second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 breaststroke at the state meet.

Marshall said the combination of experience, talent and their numbers is making a big difference this season. Clarke County has 25 girls’ swimmers this year compared to 18 last year.

“We have a little bit of leeway with where we’re placing our swimmers,” Marshall said. “We can utilize our depth to our advantage. We have quality swimmers in our individual events, we have quality swimmers on our relays. We’re not trying to make people do everything. Swimmers aren’t as tired for their individual events, they’re not as tired for their relay, so we’re seeing a lot of fast swims.

“I’m real pleased with where the ladies are at this point in the season. Many of their times are very close, if not faster, than the times we finished the season with last year.”

Clarke County’s other returnee include Maeve’s older sister Natalie Lyman, a senior who earned all-state honors by taking eighth in the 100 breaststroke last year, and sophomore Stephanie Miller, who ranked third in the area in the 100 butterfly last year. Both Lymans and Miller swam on the 200 free relay team that placed fourth at the state meet last year, and Miller swam on the 400 free relay team that also took fourth.

The Eagles’ additions include junior Sinead Juday, a former home-school student who has already qualified for states in the 100 butterfly and figures to also be strong in the 200 individual medley this year; and sophomore Tess Whalen, a transfer student from Maryland who has qualified for states in the 500 free.

Maeve Lyman’s start has been the most impressive for the Eagles.

In the 100 breaststroke at the Sherando meet, she bested the Warriors’ Abigail Sears, who was first in the area in that event last year and finished 11th at the Group 4A state meet. And while she’s qualified for states in three events, Lyman has yet to swim the 100 freestyle, the event that might be her best shot at a state title.

Lyman finished first in the prelims in the 100 free at last year’s state meet before losing to Radford senior Grace Wohlford by four-tenths of a second (55.28 to 55.68) in the finals to finish second.

“Last year [Lyman] didn’t really start competing until after the Christmas break because of an injury,” Marshall said. “She’s come into this year stronger, and now she knows what she needs to do to continue to improve.”

Locally, Clarke County will have to deal with Bull Run District rival George Mason, which placed second in the state last year.

Including Lyman, six of the eight Winchester Star girls’ all-area swimmers are back from last year.

Millbrook brings back The Winchester Star’s last two Girls’ Swimmers of the Year in seniors Lindsay Fairbanks (2014-15) and Abbey Esslinger (2015-16). (Both were all-area last year). At last year’s Group 4A state meet, Esslinger took ninth in the 200 IM and 12th in the 100 butterfly, and Fairbanks placed 12th in the 200 free and 14th in the 500 free.

James Wood’s second-place finish at the Conference 21 West meet was the highest among local schools. Senior Zoe Schopick (11th in the state in the 100 butterfly last year, all-area selection) and individual regional qualifiers Lydia Sunderlin (50 free, 100 free), Kate Sunderlin (100 free) and Hannah Cavanagh (200 free) are all back.

In addition to the all-area selection Sears, Sherando also brings back Sarah Lauer, the No. 3 swimmer in the area in the 200 free, a regional qualifier in the 200 free and 500 free, and the team’s high-point scorer last year.

Handley’s returners include sophomore all-area selection Kenzi Fergus (13th in the 100 backstroke and 17th in the 500 free at last year’s state meet) and junior Meredith Watts (second in the area in the 50 free).

Woodgrove is the defending girls’ champion in Conference 21 West, and the Wolverines bring back many of the key swimmers who helped them win last year’s title by more than 100 points.

Sherando won the Conference 21 West title on the boys’ side last year as part of a wildly successful season that finished with the Warriors placing ninth at the Group 4A state meet, the best state finish in program history.

Warriors coach Joe Knight said it will be a challenge to have a similar type of season. Sherando lost two all-area swimmers and won’t have the same depth with just 13 swimmers on this year’s team.

Sherando does bring back The Winchester Star Boys’ Swimmer of the Year in senior Daniel Milburn. Milburn posted the area’s best times in four events last year (the 200 IM, 100 fly, 100 breast, and the 400/500 free) and had the area’s best finish at the Group 4A state meet, taking seventh in the 200 IM.

The Warriors also feature sophomore Mathew Pham (10th in Group 4A in the 100 breaststroke) and senior David Restrepo, the conference champion in the 100 butterfly.

Knight added that new assistant coach Krista Gass, a former swimmer at West Virginia University, has made a strong impact on both Sherando teams.

Handley will be led by sophomore Brian Tufts, a regional qualifier in the 500 free last year, and freshman Jackson Sitton, who scored the Judges’ only points at the Southwest Virginia High School Invitational in Christiansburg, which featured nearly 800 swimmers. Sitton took 14th in the 500 freestyle.

James Wood will be led by sophomores Brian Hua (third in the area and a regional qualifier in the 100 butterfly last year, regional qualifier in 100 breaststroke) and David Dorsey (regional qualifier in the 200 free and 500 free).

All-area selection and junior Patrick Northrup (17th in the state in the 500 freestyle) will lead Millbrook, which featured only six swimmers last year but has 11 this year.

Handley coach Tag Grove and Knight believe Woodgrove — which finished 12 points behind the Warriors last year at the conference meet — will be the team to beat in Conference 21 West. The Wolverines are typically strong, and they list 24 boys on this year’s roster.

In Group 2A, the Clarke County boys are also off to a strong start, but with only 10 swimmers they don’t have the depth that the girls’ team has.

The Eagles — who finished fourth in Group 2A last year — have already qualified their 200 free relay and 200 medley relay for the state meet, as well as freshman Derek Sprincis (200 free and 500 free) and Tess Whalen’s junior brother Kevin in the 50 free and 100 butterfly.

Clarke County also returns senior all-area selection Jacob David (second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free at last year’s state meet) and Sinead Judy’s sophomore brother Eamon (fifth in the 200 free and 500 free).

Locally, the Eagles will have to contend with defending 2A state champion George Mason.

The following is a glance at each area team:


Coach: Joe Knight, 12th season.

Last year: Boys: Conference 21 West meet champions and Northwestern District regular season champions, 7th in 4A West Region, 9th at Group 4A state meet; Girls: 4th in C21 West, 17th in 4A West.

Key losses: Boys: Jeremy Linaburg, Ethan Medrano, Jacob Adams. Girls: Kelsie Utz, Tori Reese, Bailey McGill.

Top returners: Boys: Daniel Milburn, Sr., David Restrepo, Sr., Mathew Pham, So., Hunter Mayo, Sr., Alex Ferguson, Sr., Greg Alan, Sr. Girls: Abigail Sears, Sr., Sarah Lauer, Sr., Hannah Starustka, So., Breanna Keefer, Jr., Anne Restrepo, So.

Top newcomers: Boys: Josh Bauer, Fr., Canaan Thompson, So., Ayman Ibrahim, Jr.; Girls: Jordyn Jones, Fr., Kyra Schultz, Fr., Sydney Damico, Fr., Gracie Twigg, Fr., Andrea Houchins, So.

Knight’s outlook: “The downside for our boys’ team is graduating the three boys that we did, and we had a very small turnout in terms of recruiting with only one freshman on the team. We still have a strong core, but we just don’t have the depth we have in prior years. We’re happy to have back Daniel Milburn. It looks like he’s in really good shape this year, and he’s grown another couple of inches. I understand his times have been coming down [through USA Swimming competition], so we’re looking for another exceptional year from Daniel.

“We have some good swimmers on the girls’ side, but we’re young and inexperienced. We like our newcomers a lot though. We lost to Clarke County in our first meet, but then they bounced back with a nice win against Millbrook. Abby Sears is a team captain and leader for us, and she’s highly motivated. She broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke last year, and now she wants to make the podium by placing in the top eight at states this year. She’s ahead of where she was at this time last year in terms on her times, so she’s pretty excited about that.”

Next meet: Today vs. Loudoun County at Jim Barnett Park, 7 p.m.

James Wood

Coach: Elizabeth Mumaw, 2nd season.

Last year: Boys: 5th in C21 West. Girls: 2nd in C21 West; 13th in 4A West.

Key losses: Boys: Jared Arkfled, Jacob Filbert, Dean Ludwig. Girls: Erin Jackson, Katherine Alaniz, Halle Esparza, Danielle Tanger.

Top returners: Boys: David Dorsey, So., Brian Hua, So., Ping Lin, Sr., Sam McCarthy, Sr., Keeyan McDonald, So., Daniel Woodrum, Jr. Girls: Zoe Schopick, Sr., Hannah Cavanagh, Sr., Taylin Crosen, So., Abbey Esparza, Jr., Gabrielle Green, Sr., Whitney Merryman, Sr., Katie Sunderlin, Sr., Lydia Sunderlin, Sr.

Top newcomers: Boys: Jonathan Addison, Fr. Girls: Abby Fergus (last on the team two years ago), Sr., Eleanor Armel, Fr., Kendall Pierce, Fr., Courtney Vreeland, Fr., Sophia Walker, Jr.

Mumaw’s outlook: “With the girls, we lost a multi-time state qualifier in Erin Jackson and some other top athletes. But Zoe is a three-time state competitor, Lydia Sunderlin has state experience from her sophomore year, and we return several regional qualifiers. I think we have a strong foundation there, and adding some young talent to that seasoned group, it’s going to be an expectation that the girls’ team remain competitive in meets and at the conference level. I think [Schopick’s] work ethic and enthusiasm is contagious for the whole team and encourages everyone else to step up to that level.

“[On the boys’ side], we lost three strong people, but we do return Dorsey, Hua and Sam McCarthy, who were regional qualifiers last year, and Daniel Woodrum, who just missed qualifying. They’re providing the backbone for our team. One thing we need to work on is versatility, because a lot of our guys are specialized [with their strokes].”

Next meet: Dec. 17 in Northwestern District mini meet at Jim Barnett Park, 7:45 a.m.



Coach: Tag Grove, 15th season.

Last year: Boys: 4th in C21 West, 17th in 4A West Region; Girls: 3rd in C21 West, 14th in 4A West.

Key losses: Boys: Carter Watts, William Yuan, Chase Stevens, Jared Tufts, Chris Will. Girls: Elizabeth Keim, Morgan Grove.

Top returners: Boys: Brian Tufts, So., Silas Bell, Jr., Ian Zygmunt, Sr., Kyle Kremer, Sr., Brady Noll, Jr. Girls: Kenzi Fergus, So,, Meredith Watts, Jr., Madison Nail, Sr., Jenna Logan, Jr., Catherine Love, Jr., Linsey Martin, Jr., Quincy Morefield, Jr., Kristin Blake, Jr., Kennedy Eagle, Sr., Catherine Keim, So., Emma Young, So.

Top newcomers: Boys: Jackson Sitton, Fr., Mercer Love, Fr. Girls: Abby Keith, Fr., Jade Rickman, Fr., Meredith Larsen, Fr., Michaela Logan, Fr.

Grove’s outlook: “That was a tough senior class to lose on the boys’ side. The guys coming up are really trying to step up and are coming on strong. We don’t have the experience we had at the beginning of last season, but in our first two meets we had kids swimming both nights who were getting the best times of their careers, and that’s really encouraging to see so many kids start the season that way. Hopefully that will continue. As far as the area, all the local boys teams are about the same as far as numbers and talent, so it’s going to be about who improves the most over the course of the season.

“I think our girls are in a good position to do well. I can pretty much go a couple deep pretty much at every event. Like the boys, they were getting personal-best times at those first two meets. They’re turning in good swims at practice and really challenging themselves to get better every day. I’m really excited, because we should be able to match up pretty well against most teams.”

Next meet: Dec. 17 in Northwestern District mini meet at Jim Barnett Park, 7:45 a.m.


Coach: Will Sigler, 5th season.

Last year: Boys: 6th in C21 West; Girls: 5th in C21 West, 8th in 4A West; 14th in Group 4A.

Key losses: Boys: Austin Devart. Girls: Taylor Linder.

Top returners: Boys: Patrick Northrup, Jr., Zach Hicks, Jr., Curtiss Fredricks, Sr., Edwin Ben, Sr., Nathan Wiens, Jr. Girls: Abbey Esslinger, Sr., Lindsay Fairbanks, Sr., Eliza Grisby, Jr., Erin Dooley, Jr., Amanda Olejarz, Jr., Kristen Smith, So.

Top newcomers: Boys: Tyler Abercrombie, Fr., Joel Sherman, Jr., Hayden Wilfong, Sr. Girls: Kaylee Barker, So., Ellie Bowman, Fr.

Sigler’s outlook: “We have a very balanced girls’ team. This year we have more swimmers who can swim different events, and that helps when making out the lineup. Abbey and Lindsay will definitely be state contenders again, Eliza Grigsby and Erin Dooley have state experience on the relays, and with the newcomers we’ve added, the energy level seems to be a little bit higher this year.

“It’s great that we added several swimmers on the boys’ side, because they’ve made our team an actual team and brought energy. [Northrup] is on track to do well again this season. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Next meet: Dec. 15 at Charlottesville, 6 p.m.

Clarke County

Coach: Carol Marshall, 15th season.

Last year: Boys: 4th at Group 2A state meet, 4th in 2A East Region; Girls: 5th at Group 2A state meet, 4th in 2A East Region.

Key losses: Boys: Blaise Guerin-Williams. Girls: None mentioned.

Top returners: Boys: Jacob David, Sr., Eamon Juday, So., Dylan Nesslerodt, Sr., Ryan Nesslerodt, So., Brady Thoreson, Jr., Chase Ervin, Jr., Josh Wallace, Sr., Mackie Martin, Sr. Girls: Maeve Lyman, So., Natalie Lyman, Sr., Stephanie Miller, So., Lauren Suling, Jr., Emily David, So., Cynthia Fairbanks, So., Anne Herndon, So., Natalie Lyman, Sr., Piper Mettenburg, Sr., Ellie Welch, Jr., Makenzie Reshetar, Jr.

Top newcomers: Boys: Kevin Whalen, Jr., Derek Sprincis, Fr. Girls: Tess Whalen, So., Camryn Reshetar, Fr., Sinead Juday, Jr.

Marshall’s outlook: “[On the boys’ side], Jacob has the potential to contend for a state title if he puts in the time in the water. I think Kevin [Whalen] swimming a 23.7 in the 50 yard free at this point is pretty fast, so he could be up there as well. I think by mid-January we’ll have him under 23 seconds when he has some people to race against, because he’s definitely a competitor. The times are all really competitive in all events with the boys, so that’s good.

“Having the depth is going to help us out the girls tremendously. At states the prelims and finals are on the same day, and not all of them are used to doing that. So with our depth, they won’t necessarily have to do four events early in the day, then four events late.”

Next meet: Today at Conference 35 mini meet at Manassas Park Community Center, 6:30 p.m.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1




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