By Chris Chaney
The Milford Eagles’ swimming teams have built up a strong reputation in the Cincinnati area with their consistent performance around many of the local pools. Sending five individuals in two events to the state meet last year in Canton, the Aqua Eagles have some big shoes to fill as most of last year’s district and state qualifiers have moved on to bluer waters following their graduation.
“On the boys’ side, we only have one returner that was a part of all the success,” head coach Sarah Kleinfelter said. “There have been a lot of underclassmen that had to step up this year.
“Girl-wise, we didn’t lose as much to graduation. Our junior class this year is really strong, so we should see some really good things out of them this year and next year.”
On the girls’ side last season, the Lady Eagles had a strong showing at the sectional meet, moving along three relay teams and three individuals in five events. Although the girls had a strong contingent at the district meet, they were unable to move anyone through to the state — something Kleinfelter and her team would like to change come this postseason.
With the season still green, the red and black are looking to uphold the reputation of the teams that have come before them. Leading the way will be those who were a part of the old guard, charge with helping to bring that confidence and experience to the younger and more inexperienced swimmers on the team.
“I only have one returning state qualifier from last year, so we’d like to see him qualify in an individual this year — that’s Cade Williams,” Kleinfelter said. “In previous years, he’s only qualified as part of a relay, so we’re going to try to get him in with some individual events along with some relays. “
Aside from Williams, Kleinfelter is excited about a few other swimmers, one of which was around to witness last season’s success and another who is new to high school swimming all together.
“I have junior Alex Hahn and a freshman on the boys side, Tyler Karan,” the coach said. “I think we’re going to see some good things out of him.”
With the girls’ team full of returning letter winners, the Lady Eagles have a sense of unfinished business as they outperformed their male counterparts at the sectional meet, but were unable to bring their best stuff to the district meet.
“On the girls side, there is Hayley Kennedy, Kelsey Meranda, Carolyn Storch,” Kleinfelter said. “They are my top girls right now.”
Kennedy and Storch are juniors while Meranda is one of three seniors on the Lady Eagles’ roster. Marlee McCloud and Morgan Litmer are the other two fourth years on the squad.
As 2012 comes to a close, the Eagles don’t have much competitive experience. The Eagles have only raced in two Invitationals, the Mason and Butler, and competed in two other meets against Loveland and Anderson.
While the Eagles have seen some solid results from those few opportunities in the pool, most of their work will come following the turn of the New Year.
They will have four meets in the first two weeks of 2013 before they really need to kick it into another gear with the end of the season tournaments coming up, starting with the Southwest Classic and then the Eastern Cincinnati Conference Championships, which the Eagles will host.
“We would like to finish at the top of the ECC,” Kleinfelter said. “Last year, we had a record number of qualifiers at districts and I’d like to try and match that again. I’d also like to get some kids to state this year.”
The Eagles return trip to sectionals will take place on Feb. 8 with districts and state the following two weeks.