By Chris Chaney
The Glen Este swim teams are in a reloading phase this year after losing 13 swimmers to graduation. And while it should have been difficult for the Trojans to bounce back after such a loss, the teams are excelling where they can.
“For our size, we’ve been doing fine,” head coach Al Kirk said. “We only have 14 (athletes) on the team. There are only three boys, so we can’t fill a relay team, which is a draw back to the guys, but they’ve done real well. We can’t win very meets without a relay team.
“We’ve got some girls back (from last year). We graduated 10 girls, so it took out a lot of events.”
With the pay-to-play, the Trojans have to deal with the obstacle of getting athletes who are willing and able to drop nearly $500 to compete. Kirk said that while it’s not ideal, it’s something all athletes in the West Clermont School District have to deal with.
On the boys’ team, as Kirk mentioned, there are only three swimmers; a pair of freshmen, Joe Dulle and John Martino, and senior Joe Randazzo.
“Both (Dulle and Martino) are new swimmers,” Kirk said. “John did excellent last week and he is progressing quite well and so is Joe (Dulle).
“Joe Randazzo is a very good kid and our senior. He has will certainly get to districts this year and has a very good chance to get to state in the 500 (freestyle) as well as the 200 (individual medley).”
Dulle swims the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, while Martino competes in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle, as well as the 200 IM and the 100-yard backstroke.
While both freshman are improving consistently, the boys’ upstate hopes lie in the hands and feet of Randazzo.
Randazzo is in the top-10 in the 50- and 200-yard freestyles in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, but his best event is the 500-yard freestyle, which he holds the top spot in the conference.
Kirk said that Randazzo is focused on making it upstate, making the sacrifices necessary to do so, which includes swimming 15,000 yards a day. Randazzo wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to swim before school and then does the same thing in the evening.
If Randazzo is able to achieve his goal of getting to the state meet, he would be the first Glen Este swimmer or diver to get there in 14 years, according to Kirk.
On the girls’ side, their higher numbers give them the opportunity to fill more events and score better in their meets.
The team is led by Jenny Howell, a junior and returning district qualifier. Howell excels in the 100-yard breaststroke, in which she holds the fifth-best time in the ECC.
“I’m confident she will make it back to districts this year,” Kirk said. “She’s one of our breastrokers, but she swims pretty much every stroke we have. She has scored in every meet that we’ve had. As far as the girls go, she’s our mainstay.”
Aside from Howell, the Lady Trojans are fairly young with just three seniors and eight underclassmen taking notes under their tutelage.
Kirk mentioned Breanna Ruschman, Rachel Harrison, Taylor Cecil as the underclassmen who have performed well, while the returning seniors, Sydney Null, Ashley Belanger have been in the program for years.
“We have some senior leaders and then we have some young swimmers,” Kirk said. “With such a small team, the blend of each gives us the ability to score points in the meets that we have.”
The Trojans have had 14 meets this season and for the most part, they are outmanned by the larger teams, causing their record to not resemble the talent that they possess.
“It’s sobering to know that our small group can go out and score points and compete somewhat with the big groups,” Kirk said. “But we can’t really contend simply because we cannot fill all of the events.”
With the regular season behind them and the postseason on the horizon, the Trojans are trimming their daily yardages to prepare them for sectionals and districts. And despite Glen Este’s numbers not being able to fill up an entire meet, their individuals can now put their talents on display as they represent the purple and black.