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Coming off a second-place finish at the Region 3 Championship, Elizabethtown took a big hit with the graduation.
Two of the Panthers’ top point-scorers, Andrew Simmons and Matt Johnson, are gone. They swam on the team’s winning 400 freestyle relay and second-place 200 medley relay at region and finished 15th in both at State.
Andrew Simmons also won the 500 free and placed third in the 200 free at region and 23rd in the 500 free and 28th in the 200 free at State. Johnson was fifth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 butterfly at region.
“Those two scored big for us and did big in the relays. So that’s going to be not as good,” said Panthers coach Mavi Sampaio. “But the boys that we have are getting faster so they’re going to score more than last year.”
Elizabethtown has just 10 boys’ swimmers this season. Junior returnee Chase Simmons and sophomore Thomas Deaton headline that group. They swam on the two aforementioned relays last year. Chase Simmons was third in the 200 individual medley and third in the 100 breast at region and 23rd in the 100 breaststroke and 27th in the 200 IM at State, while Deaton was third in the 50 free and the 100 free at region.
They had two different summer approaches. Deaton swam for the Dolphins, while Chase Simmons took the summer off so he can be fresh late in the season.
“(Thomas) is even better. He’s improved,” Sampaio said. “He didn’t stop swimming and swam throughout the summer and has looked great in practice.”
Sampaio also said freshman Isaac Lewis (free, IM and breast) has improved from last season, as has eighth-grader Phillip Hayes and freshman Spencer Daniels, who will both swim freestyle and breaststroke events. Lewis placed eighth in the 200 free at region last year.
They’re joined by freshmen Tyson Brown, Seth Anderson and Conner Kindred and seventh-grader Tristan McKie.
NORTH HARDIn/CENTRAL HARDIN/JOHN HARDIN. North Hardin coach Sharon Garcia hopes North Hardin’s 200 medley relay could contend for a top region finish and State berth.
But she’s still trying to figure out who goes where in first.
Junior Derek Sparkling, freshmen Roderick Harris and Dalton Mitchell, along with Eric Martinez, have ahold of the spots but sophomore Zac Carr and junior Jacob Holt are also pushing for their way in.
Garcia had to pull a butterflier up for the relay and went with Mitchell. Meanwhile, Martinez lost his freestyle spot in the relay to Harris and for now will swim backstroke.
Last year was Harris’ first year swimming. He’s shown promise this year already, dropping times from last year’s regional time in the 100 back and senior night time in the 200 free at Saturday’s Elizabethtown Invitational.
“He’s really good in backstroke and the 100 backstroke. I started putting him in the 200 freestyle,” Garcia said. “He shows a lot of potential.”
Sophomore twins Mason and Grayson Riggs should help push Central Hardin. Two Dolphins swimmers, they’ll be the key cogs on the team’s 200 medley and 200 free and 400 free relays and are both strong swimmers in the fly and breaststroke.
“They have a lot of drive and great talent,” Garcia said.
Junior Tim Whitehouse, a football player, will compete in the freestyle and fly. Garcia said he is a wonderful sprinter. Freshman and cross country runner Christian Wright will mainly compete in backstroke and freestyle events. Freshman Zachary Pugh is also coming on.
Garcia thinks another Bellware will impact the John Hardin Bulldogs. She expects major contributions from eighth-grader J.J. Bellware, just like she does from freshman sister Katherine. In the Elizabethtown Invitational, J.J. Bellware dropped 5 seconds off his time in both the 200 and 500 free events.
However, after having relays for the first time in three years last season, John Hardin doesn’t have enough boys for a relay this season.
FORT KNOX. The Eagles are going through a complete rebuild.
Fort Knox only has six swimmers, including just one returnee in eighth-grader Logan Franklin.
Freshmen Deandre Brown and seventh-graders Nathaniel Brisette, Clinton Burkhalter and Ethan Dawber are new to the program, while senior Christopher Normand transferred from Texas and swam varsity three years there.
Sosa said Normand comes in as a 200 free swimmer and could also swim middle distances.
He was pleased with Brown, who had a 33-second time drop in the 50 free during a preseason meet.
Sosa’s goal is get the athletes to develop and grow. He did last year with Franklin, who had never swum before.
“It’s their first year to really experience the sport. I really all want them to experience it, really get a good feel for it, then the training will really start. I’ve got them for four months, then region and state,” Sosa said. “I’m spending four months trying to teach them the four basic strokes, get some endurance in and understand what the sport is about. Then they can experience region and see it’s what like to qualify for State and then get an understanding.”
MEADE COUNTY. Strong relays will be the key for the Green Wave. Meade County had two relays – the 200 free and 400 free – advance to State last year and could’ve had a third, the 200 medley, had it not been disqualified for an early start. The 200 free relay finished 15th, while the 400 free relay placed 21st at State.
Three of the four swimmers off those State relays return, including seniors T.J. Osborne and Nick Thoma and junior Aaron Bauer.
Any one of the other three returning swimmers – freshman Cody Jobe or juniors Mac Montgomery or Andrew Popham – could fill the last spot.
They’re already having success. In the Elizabethtown Invitational, the 200 medley and 400 free relays recorded times which would’ve put them in last year’s State meet.
“They’re just fast – super-coachable kids and they’re just fast,” said Meade County coach Andy Mills.
Mills said the team should be very competitive in the 50 and 100 free events, really strong in the backstroke and relatively competitive in the butterfly this year.
Senior Kippy Caro, sophomores Shaye Eden, Wyatt Carroll, Jeremy Chambers and Logan Ennis and seventh-grader Michael Thoma fill out the 12-member roster.
Meade County also has two new assistant coaches who were former swimmers – 2009 graduate Troy Jobe and 2008 graduate Katie Webb.
John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or email@example.com.