Swim Preview: No Clear District Favorites as Parity Reigns Among Local Schools

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The Bay Rivers District is wide open this season. (file photo)
The Bay Rivers District is wide open this season. (File Photo)

The Historic Triangle saw a good deal of swimming success last year as the Jamestown girls took home the Group 4A state championship and the Grafton boys won the Group 4A state title.

Both Jamestown and Grafton return talented swimmers who allowed them to succeed at the state level, but the addition of Lafayette into Group 4A could make for a hyper-competitive season.

Of the Group 3A teams, Tabb appears to be the team to beat of the bunch. The Tigers return most of the talent that allowed them to finish top-five in the Group 4A state meet last season.

Warhill and York will have strong individual swimmers, but should not be expected to compete for team titles at the state level.

The lone Group 2A school, Bruton figures to be able to compete with the top Bay Rivers District teams in addition to the Group 2A schools in the postseason. With little turnover from last season, Bruton will be a force to be reckoned with come the postseason.

With the 2015-16 swim season officially underway as Grafton and Jamestown went head-to-head on Tuesday, things seem to be shaping up for an exciting season.

Below are previews for each Historic Triangle swim team competing in the Bay Rivers District.

Group 4A

Head Coach: Amy Hunter
2015 Classification: 4A Conference 18
Players to Watch: Jacqueline Tinneny (sophomore), Emily Vogt (junior), Jonathan Spires (senior), Kilian Nebe (senior)

Season Outlook: Despite a new head coach, Grafton should once again be one of the district favorites. The Grafton boys swim team returns plenty of talent from last year’s Group 4A state championship team. Led by Spires, who helped the Clippers win four individual state titles last year, the Clippers once again look to be the team to beat in the Bay Rivers District. Nebe, a senior, swam on two state-championship relay teams last year and will be one of Grafton’s top swimmers to watch this year. On the girls side, Jacqueline Tinneny is coming off an individual state title in the 100-meter breaststroke that included a meet record. While Tinneny will be Grafton’s biggest scoring threat, Vogt got much-needed experience in the state meet last year and will be improved in the individual medley and freestyle.


Head Coach: Harold Baker
2015 Classification: 4A Conference 18
Players to Watch: Jenna Beattie (senior), Jessica Beattie (senior), Conor Flannery (senior), Chris Kostelni (freshman)

Season Outlook: Lafayette is coming off a pair of top-three finishes in the Group 3A state meet last season, but will have to replace plenty of talent on the boys side. Sisters Jenna Beattie and Jessica Beattie return to lead the Lafayette girls team that finished third in the state meet. Jenna, a Virginia Tech commit, will continue to be a force in the 200 and 500 freestyle, while Jessica will be strong once again in the individual medley and breaststroke. Also back for the girls is McKinzie Turner, who won an individual state title in the 100 breaststroke last year. The boys will have to deal with losing Carter Kale, Brett Huckstep and Deke Lueker. Flannery, who swam on two state-champion relays last season, will return as the most experienced swimmer on the boys side. Kostelni, while a freshman, is expected to be a promising swimmer for the Rams this year.


Head Coach: Molly Sandling
2015 Classification: 4A Conference 18
Players to Watch: Abby Larson (sophomore), Joelle Vereb (junior), Colin Wright (senior), Taylor Watson (junior)

Season Outlook: The Jamestown girls are coming off their second consecutive state championship and appear to have enough firepower to repeat as state champions. The Eagles return Larson, who won a state title in the 50-meter freestyle as a freshman, and Vereb, who took home a state title in the 100-meter butterfly. Jamestown also brings back Margaret Williams, who won the 100-meter freestyle in the state meet. With so much returning talent, Jamestown’s girls are going to be the team to beat in the Bay Rivers District this season. The Jamestown boys, while not as well-stocked as last year, still return plenty of talent. Leading the way for the Eagles will be Wright, who won a state title in the 50-meter freestyle last year. Swimmers like Watson, senior Ben Van Tasel and junior Corey Shideler round out what once again looks to be a strong Jamestown roster.

Group 3A

Head Coach: Ian McCormick
2015 Classification: 3A Conference 25
Players to Watch: Morgan Whaley (sophomore), Megan Watkins (junior), Zach Wallace (senior), Colin Allison (senior)

Season Outlook: Ian McCormick takes over as the new coach of Warhill’s swim team after his wife Sarah McCormick coached both teams last season. Coming off appearances in the state tournament, both Warhill’s boys and girls teams appear poised to build off last season with more experience and depth. The girls team is returning all of its top swimmers from last season, including four state qualifiers. Whaley and Watkins will lead the way, but expect big contributions from sophomores Kate Watkins and Faith Tyranski, both of whom competed in the state meet last year. The boys team returns a strong trio of swimmers in Wallace, Allison and Kristian Hansen. Wallace and Allison both reached the state meet last year, while Hansen will be improved in the sprint freestyle. The Lions will likely be state-bound again with their increased depth this year.


Head Coach: Mike Sinclair and Bridget Neely
2015 Classification: 3A Conference 27
Players to Watch: Madison Boyd (senior), Julia Geskey (senior), Colby Brown (senior), Tanner Norris (senior)

Season Outlook: Fresh off a pair of top-five finishes in last year’s Group 4A state meet, Tabb’s boys and girls swim teams are looking to take a step up this year. Boyd and Geskey, both backstroke swimmers, will lead the Tabb girls team this year after both had solid performances in the state meet. Senior Lauren Stover will be a useful contributor in the breaststroke, while returning juniors Kate Colgan and Hailey Toledo will provide depth. On the boys side, Brown and Norris, both freestyle swimmers, will lead the way for a Tabb team that took fifth place in the state meet last season. Sophomores Chris Verastek and C.J. Omweg are expected to contribute heavily this season, as is junior Jacob Kaminer. With state experience throughout both the boys and girls rosters, Tabb figures to be in the picture during the state meet at the end of the year.


Head Coach: Courtney Kelley
2015 Classification: 3A Conference 27
Players to Watch: Alex Slayton (sophomore), Danika Katzer (sophomore), Parker Harp (junior), Stephen Kuster (senior)

Season Outlook: York’s girls team has enough talent and depth to take a step up from last year’s 10th-place finish in the Group 3A state meet. Slayton, the reigning 50-meter freestyle state champion, and Katzer both return as the strongest two swimmers for York this season. Both swimmers are preparing to compete in the Winter Junior Nationals and should be top-tier swimmers locally. The Falcons also return senior Makenzie Katzer in the breaststroke and sophomore Elana Evans in the backstroke, butterfly and freestyle. The Falcons are not as deep on the boys side, returning Harp and Kuster as the top two swimmers. Throwing Kyle Mastracci into the mix, the York boys will likely have stronger finishes individually than as a team.

Group 2A

Head Coach: Richard Long
2015 Classification: 2A Conference 33
Players to Watch: Caroline DeJager (senior), Jenny Schuster (junior), Evan Lynch (sophomore), Trevor LeForge (senior)

Season Outlook: Bruton’s boys and girls swim teams each earned top-four finishes in the Group 2A state meet last year and the Panthers appear poised to make a similar splash this season. The Bruton girls are led by DeJager, a Virginia Tech commit, who is a versatile swimmer in the breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley. Schuster is a key asset in the freestyle and individual medley. Adding in sophomore swimmers Hannah Cole and Caroline Helwig, Bruton’s girls will be very competitive. Leading the boys are Lynch and LeForge, each of whom won individual state championships last season. With another year under his belt after a successful freshman campaign, Lynch should be in a position to take home another state championship. Brothers John and Joey Morrow provide depth for the Panthers in what should be a very good Bruton team.