Boys' Swimming Preview

In his email to report his season-opening meet on Nov. 28, Sherando swimming coach Joe Knight wrote, “Clarke boys looked extremely fast for this early in the season.”

The Eagles — which placed fourth in the Class 2 state meet last year — earned an impressive 93-67 win over the Warriors that night. All three of their relays earned state-qualifying times, and junior Derek Sprincis (200-yard freestyle and 500 free) and senior Eamon Juday (50 free and 100 butterfly) earned two individual state times each.

Clarke County has followed that up with four more wins to improve to 5-0. The Eagles beat Bull Run District rivals Strasburg (92-61) and Central (89-46) last Saturday (Juday and senior Ryan Nesslerodt each added state times in the 200 free). On Wednesday they beat Strasburg (97-59) and East Rockingham (106-17). Nesslerodt added a state time in the 50 free and Sprincis had one in the 100 butterfly.

Sprincis (third in the 500 free, 6th in the 200 free at the Class 2 state meet last year), Juday (fourth in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 fly) and Nesslerodt (fifth in the 100 backstroke, sixth in the 50 free) headline a strong group that Clarke County coach Carol Marshall says should make things tough on defending Class 2 state champion and Bull Run District rival George Mason.

“We’ve got a lot of the swimmers back from our relays. We’ve got a couple sophomores who got some muscle on them between last season and this season, and they’re already pushing through the water and dropping a considerable amount of time,” said Marshall, who has nine swimmers on the team. “If they focus and continue to give the attention to detail that we’ve been working on in practice, they’re going to continue to see those improvements. I think we could give Mason a little bit of a run for their money. Make them work for that win this year.”

Sprincis, Juday and Nesslerodt were all members of The Winchester Star all-area swim team last year. Seven of the 10 people who made that team are back this season.

Sherando is coming off a second-place finish to Kettle Run in the Class 4 Northwestern District, but the Warriors graduated The Winchester Star’s Boys’ Swimmer of the Year Ayman Ibrahim and several other top swimmers from last year. The Warriors only have 11 people on the team, but they do bring back the Pham brothers. Senior Mathew and sophomore Peter both swam on the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay teams that placed 13th and 14th, respectively, at last year’s state meet.

Handley (fourth in the district last year, nine boys on the team this year) no longer has Jackson Sitton. The junior, who placed 16th in the state last year in the 200 freestyle, has transferred to James Wood. The Judges were led this weekend by freshman Henry Fowler, who took 17th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:27.07) at the 22-school Southwest Virginia High School Invitational in Christiansburg. Senior Brian Tufts added a 21st-place finish in the 200 freestyle (2:11.87).

Millbrook placed fifth in the district last year. First-year coach Priscilla Elliott expects sophomores Ben Rayburn and Timothy McCarthy to lead the way in scoring for this year’s team.

With Sitton helping it, Handley’s Grove thinks James Wood (sixth in the district last year) will show a lot of improvement based on what he knows of the Colonels swimmers who are on the Winchester Swim Team he coaches and what he’s seen from James Wood in workouts. The Colonels have 19 swimmers, and their returnees include senior Brian Hua, who placed 12th in the state last year in the 100 butterfly.

Handley, James Wood, Millbrook and Sherando will next compete in a quad at Jim Barnett Park’s War Memorial Building at 9 a.m. today. Clarke County also returns to action on today in a tri-meet involving Bull Run District rivals George Mason and Strasburg. The competition will start at 1 p.m. at the Manassas Park Community Center.

The following is a glance at each area team:


Coach: Joe Knight, 14th season.

Last year: Second in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; tied for sixth in Region 4C; 22nd in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Ayman Ibrahim, Angelo Gannon, Ridge Green, Bobby Grossman, Heston Phillips.

Key returnees: Michael Leckie, Sr.; Mathew Pham (captain) Sr., (1st in the area in the 100 breaststroke last year, 2:21.04); Josh Bauer, Jr.; Dylan Cadd, Jr.; Trevor Cram, So.; Erik Grafel, So.; Brenden Johnson, So.; Peter Pham, So. (1st in area in the 200 IM, 2:21.04, 2nd in 100 breaststroke, 1:17.08, 3rd in 100 backstroke, 1:07.07).

Key newcomers: Ashraf Ibrahim, Fr.; Ben Jensen, Fr.; Ryan Simmons, So.

Knight’s outlook: ”Mathew Pham has been spending some time in the weight room, and he looks bigger and stronger than he ever has. And then his younger brother Peter probably swam half the season last year with the flu bug. We couldn’t get a good diagnosis in terms of what was really wrong with him, but he still had a banner year. This year he appears healthy, he appears strong. We’re looking for another big year from him. Hopefully we can get both of them to the state meet. Ashraf Ibrahim [Ayman’s younger brother] is a pretty raw talent and is principally a freestyler. It’s strikingly amazing how much they look alike. He’ll probably be as tall and as strong as Ayman [6 feet, 3 inches as a senior]. We see a lot of potential in him, but he’s a work in progress.”


Coach: Tag Grove, 17th season.

Last year: Fourth in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 12th in Region 4C; tied for 31st in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Jackson Sitton (transferred to James Wood), Silas Bell, Ethan Russell, Jake Swartz.

Key returnees: Brian Tufts, Sr.; Ethan Moss, Sr.; Mercer Love, Jr.; Chris Stearns, So.

Key newcomers: Henry Fowler, Fr.; Ryan Stickley, Fr.

Grove’s outlook: ”We’re looking for Ethan Moss to step up a little bit this year and do a little bit more racing. He’s had a good start of the season so far. Our freshman boys are coming on really strong, which is really exciting to see. Ryan Stickley is doing a nice job and Henry Fowler is looking pretty good. I feel like Henry is a kid I can put in any event and he’ll do pretty well. It’s just going to be where I can end up having him where he can do well for himself and also help the team out.”


Coach: Priscilla Elliott, first season.

Last year: Fifth in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 13th in Region 4C.

Key losses: Patrick Northrup, Zach Hicks, Nathan Wiens, Joel Sherman.

Key returnees: Ben Rayburn, So.; Tim McCarthy, So.; Brennan Dooley (captain), Jr.; Michael Olejarz (captain), Jr.

Key newcomers: Aidan Post, Fr.


Elliott’s outlook: “Our boys’ team is much smaller [10 swimmers compared to the 18 on the Millbrook girls’ team], but we do have a lot of heart and a lot of dedication. We’ve got a couple of boys who are in position to win events and make it to states. Ben Rayburn is our top male swimmer. He’s really competitive and good at all four strokes.”

James Wood

Coach: Alan Cavanagh, second season.

Last year: Sixth in Class 4 Northwestern District meet; 11th in Region 4C; 27th in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Daniel Woodrum.

Key returnees: Brian Hua, Sr. (1st in the area in the 100-meter butterfly, 1:00.43, 2nd in 100 backstroke, 1:05.78); David Dorsey, Sr.

Key newcomers: Jackson Sitton, Jr. (transferred from Handley).

Cavanagh’s outlook: “Jackson has been a good addition. I think David Dorsey will have a strong year. He wants to concentrate on the 200 free this year and not do the 400. I think he’ll be fine. He’s obviously a great relay anchor. Adam Stautzenbach and Todd Schneider starting swimming last year and dropped 20 seconds off their [100-meter races], and they’re starting off close to where they finished last year.”

Clarke County

Coach: Carol Marshall, 17th season.

Last year: Second in Bull Run District meet; 3rd in Region 2A-2B; 4th in Class 2 state.

Key losses: Kevin Whalen (now swimming for NCAA Division III Bridgewater College), Chase Ervin.

Key returnees: Eamon Juday, Sr. (2nd in the area in the 200-meter individual medley, 2:24.97, 3rd in 100 freestyle, 56.62); Ryan Nesslerodt, Sr., (1st in the 100 backstroke 1:03.77, 3rd in 50 free, 25.67); Cooper Lowell, So.; Mateo Smith, Sr.; Derek Sprincis, Jr. (1st in the 400 freestyle, 4:33.40, 3rd in the 200 free, 2:04.34).

Key newcomers: Liam Whalen Fr.; Danny Lyman, Jr.

Marshall’s outlook: “Kevin’s little brother Liam has stepped up to help carry that torch. He’s had some good swims. He won the 100 free and took second in the 200 IM [against Sherando]. Eamon Juday came out really strong [against Sherando] with a 23.49 [in the 50 free]. We’re usually in the upper 25s first meet out, so he was ready to throw it down. He got in a good mindset for that race. Cooper came on really strong at the end of last year and has started really well. Danny Lyman has jumped in and done a really good job. Derek pulled out a huge number for his split [52 seconds] in the 400 free relay [against Sherando], which is usually something we see from him at the end of the season. The fact that he threw that down was an amazing race to watch.”

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