By Josh Brown
TROY — The end of one era also means the beginning of a new one.
This season will mark the first one in recent memory that the Troy swimming team will not have a Zelnick on the roster or one waiting in the wings. Last season marked the graduation of Shelly Zelnick, who placed at state all four seasons. Before her, sisters Pam and Allison Zelnick also made medal-collecting trips to state an annual affair.
But while their legacy is completed, the current Trojans are just getting started on their own.
“I don’t think anyone feels any extra pressure (now that Zelnick has graduated),” Troy coach Brian Hall said. “We take the issues and move forward, we don’t dwell on the past.
“I think the kids are looking at it in a positive way. They want to make a name for themselves.”
And this year, there’s more of them to do just that.
“We went from about 26 to 30 swimmers last year to 35-36 this year, and there’s a large group of freshmen,” Hall said. “We’re hoping that by year three or four, we’ll consistently get 40 swimmers, enough to have a full JV group.”
The Trojans will have some familiar faces to lead the way this season, key among them being a number of district qualifiers. On the boys side, seniors Jared Liew and Tristan West and sophomore Joe Dutton were three-fourths of the 400 free and 200 medley teams that qualified for district, while senior Courtney Carmack and junior Caroline Pratt were both district qualifiers for the girls.
“We want to get at least one boy and one girl to make state,” Hall said. “We expect to get our relays on to district, and we also want to get more individuals on from the sectional tournament to district, too. Instead of only on relays, we want to move more swimmers on in individual events, too.”
It’s also the final season in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division where Troy and Butler will be the two clear-cut top dogs.
“Butler is our key competition in the league this year,” Hall said. “Next year, we’ll have Tippecanoe to deal with, too, when they leave the CBC (Central Buckeye Conference) and join us. But usually it comes down to just us and Butler.
“The goal is to raise the base level of all of our swimmers. A good core group will only benefit us in the future.”
TIPP CITY — Tippecanoe coach Karl Stanbery isn’t messing around when it comes to setting goals for his Red Devils this season.
“Win the CBC (Central Buckeye Conference), win both the boys and girls sectionals, qualify all three boys and girls relays to districts and qualify one relay each to state,” he said. “We also want to have eight girls and eight boys participate at districts, qualify at least two or three individuals to state — and to win one individual state race.”
Thing is, the Devils have every reason to aim that high.
Returning this season are a host of state qualifiers, including seniors Jay Bell and Evan Stapp on the boys side and junior Arielle Arnett on the girls — all individual state qualifiers. Bell placed fourth in the 50 free and 11th in the 100 free, Stapp was 20th in the 200 IM and Arnett was 10th in the 500 free and 19th in the 100 fly.
All three also were on relay teams that swam at state, along with senior girls Samantha Williams and Cameron Cahill and sophomore boy Ryan Wall. And five more returning swimmers — seniors Anna Klepinger and Adam Buynak, juniors Carsyn Woltz and Ben Jans and sophomore Alissa Buynak — qualified for district last season. Freshmen Josh Walland, Matthew Poynter and Alexis Cook will help add depth to the roster while gaining experience for the future.
But before the postseason, the Devils have one last run through the CBC to contend with before leaving for the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
“Kenton Ridge and Bellefontaine are both very strong programs with up-and-coming swimmers. They’ll be our main competition in the league,” Stanbery said. “We look forward to defending our league titles this year — our last in the CBC.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.