By Steven Kochersperger
A new high school swim season has arrived for the Mount Vernon Wildcat swimming and diving teams. As always, hopes run high for the season and the coaches and athletes are ready to compete.
Coming into this new season, the Wildcats girls swim team is ranked fifth overall in the state polls and the boys are looking to have a break out season themselves. Wildcat coach Larry Zoller, who has coached the team for 22 seasons, has high expectations and hopes for this year’s teams.
“Last year we had one of the best girls teams in Mount Vernon history,” Zoller said. “This year’s team looks to be great too and we have several really good swimmers who are new to the program replacing those we lost.”
Last year’s girls team featured six All Americans and a team that finished seventh in the state finals meet, the best placement in the state finals in school history. This year the girls’ team believes it can reach the same heights as last year. The goals for this year’s team are to win the Big Eight Conference, win the sectional, and place in the top six in the state swim meet.
In order to achieve these goals the Wildcat girls team will need their two senior swimmers to lead the way. Those seniors, Taylor Cullman and Kelsey Turner, are seasoned veterans who are ready to make their senior season one to remember.
Turner, who set a school record last year and will swim for Western Kentucky next year, had one of the fastest times in the butterfly and placed ninth in the state meet in the freestyle. Cullman will continue to swim both the backstroke and the freestyle for the Wildcats as well.
Another standout for the girl’s team is sophomore Clara Baggett. Baggett, who already is getting looks from many college programs, looks to continue her incredible times and swim the 50 and 100 freestyles. Baggett is currently ranked number 1 in the state in the 50 freestyle.
Sophomore Samantha Gowdy also looks to help the team out and is currently ranked third in the state in the 100 backstroke.
Among the newcomers to this years Wildcat team is freshman Claudia Crawford. Zoller has been impressed with Crawford and says she has been swimming very strongly, especially in the backstroke. Two freshmen will join the girl’s dive team as well. Those new divers, Tess Norris and Jillian Schirtzinger, join junior divers Amanda Duckworth and Katie McDonald to round out the dive team.
The other members of this year’s girls swim team includes juniors Madison Denning, Samantha Reese, sophomores Kelsey Bruno and Rachel Burke, and freshmen Taylor Culley, Drew Glover, Haylee Ford, Josie Mercer, and Kati Russell. These girls round out the Wildcat team and are very valuable to the team’s success this season.
The boys team this year features more depth than last year. Though the team lost four valuable seniors to graduation, this year’s team features five seniors who look to bring the boys to new heights. These five seniors are improving greatly and working hard to make this season a success.
Those seniors are Aaron Duckworth, Sage Irons, Wade Mobley, Kevin Moore, and Danen Turpin. This boy’s team also includes two juniors, Jacob Poole and Diver Jacob Whaley. But as much depth as this team has in its upperclassmen, the team also has a lot of depth and talent coming from their six sophomores and six freshmen.
Those sophomores include Zach Allyn, Austin Colson, Travis Harris, Kurt Kissinger, Tyler Moll and Keith Turner. The six incoming freshmen are Jordan Crabtree, Jake Duckworth, Ethan Harris, Madison Krie, Phillip Minton, and diver Dakota Reed.
With hard work and focus, this boy’s team looks to win the Big Eight conference and make a run at rival Castle High School for the sectional title this season. Also joining the Wildcats this season is new coach Krystal Epley. The Cats are excited to have Epley join the staff and help the team improve.
The Cats will be in action this week as they travel to Terre Haute this Saturday to swim in the Terre Haute North Invitational.
By Steven Kochersperger
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