It’s a little early in the season to be talking about the state meet, but Cuyahoga Falls swim and dive head coach Laura Lindsay believes she has two swimmers — seniors Marissa Bowers and Katie Rozsa — who very well could be taking the trip down Route 8 and I-77 to Canton some three months from now.
"Marissa, a district qualifier last year, has a chance in the 100 backstroke," said Lindsay, whose assistant coach is Rich Vaughn. "She also will swim the 100 freestyle this season. She’s very eager to learn about the sport, and that’s crucial, to always keep learning and always make sure that you understand the sport as well as be physically able to do it. She trains well and works very hard.
"Katie, also a district qualifier last year, has a chance to go to state in the 100 breaststroke. She’ll also swim the 200 individual medley.
"She’s very headstrong and mentally tough, and she uses that to her advantage when it comes to getting out of her comfort zone, doing something that’s not the norm."
Lindsay lost district qualifiers Marissa Kassinger and Rachel Dimbrerio to graduation last spring from last year’s team that finished 0-7 in the Suburban League National Conference.
"We have some gaps, but we have a few girls who did some good work over the summer," Lindsay said.
Senior Lily Lewis, another district qualifier a year ago, is expected to be another huge contributor for Cuyahoga Falls. She will swim the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.
"Lily is very driven for her events," said the coach. "She’s pretty quiet at practice, but I can always tell when she’s ready to compete. She’s got splits down in her head and what she wants to do in a meet and how she wants to swim and everything."
Lindsay expects the 200 medley relay team to advance to districts.
Other team members are seniors Autumn Feeman, Lexi Howard, Clara Johnson and co-captain Megan Sawyer; juniors Hally Cuppett, Alex Faulkerson, Tierra Haas, Anna Johnston, Lindsey Liikala, Emily Ulbricht and Payton Veto; sophomores Chloe Gambol, Olivia Golec, Katie Howard, Lexi’s sister, Bryce Matolyak and Anna Meloche; and freshmen Anna Penkalski and Lucy Ulbricht, Emily’s sister.
As for the boys team, Lindsay hopes to improve on last year’s 1-6 record in the National Conference. Tommy Hillyer and Ethan Bolls were lost to graduation.
"We’re a fairly young team but pretty experienced," said Lindsay. "Like the girls team, we definitely have a couple of gaps that we need to cover. I need to make sure that I’m giving the boys the proper instructions in order to get some of them more versatile in the water."
Seniors co-captain Jack Kramer (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle), Tyler Ulbricht (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) and Jay Newell (diving) plus junior Skyler Holmes (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) will lead the way. All were district qualifiers last season.
"Jack is working through an injury. He’s an extremely hard worker," said Lindsay. "Tyler is a very quiet person. You don’t hear him speaking out a whole lot. He’s never late for practice, he always has a smile on his face and always tries his hardest.
"Being that it’s his senior year, I think Jay has gained confidence on the board," she added. "He broke the school record last year, so I think that also gives him a little bit more confidence coming into this year. He needs to start this season where he left off last season. I’m really excited to see what he does these first couple of meets. I’m really hoping that the sky’s the limit for him this season.
"Skyler is a perfectionist, as are most sprinters. But I think that works to his advantage because he’s very physically fit, and a lot of what the 50 freestyle is, is a lot of technique and a lot of perfection. There’s not a whole lot of thinking that can go on in that event, and he’s come in in shape and ready to go. I can see it in practice already."
The coach feels the 200 freestyle relay team has a shot at advancing to districts.
Also on the team are senior co-captain Bobby Read; sophomores Henry Cebula, Jackson Gallagher, Dylan Holmes, Skyler’s brother, Tyler Johnson, Zach Langbein, Colton Raupach, Vann Strausser and Jared Weckerly; and freshman Kyle Deremer.
Lindsay sees Hudson and Brecksville-Broadview Heights as the favorites in the National Conference for both the boys and girls.
Both the boys and girls teams are scheduled to open the season at Brecksville-Broadview Heights Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. They are set to travel to Hudson Dec. 2 at 10 a.m.
Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to host conference rival Twinsburg Dec. 8 at 5 p.m.