Senior leadership will be key to the Nordonia girls swimming and diving team this winter.
"There’s an opportunity for the seniors to show the younger kids how to be successful," said first-year head coach Mike Martin. "This group works hard every day in practice."
Martin is also Nordonia’s head cross country coach and an assistant track and field coach.
The Knights will try to withstand the losses to graduation last spring of state qualifier Christina McFarland, Amanda Westbrooks and Stephanie Schueren with 10 returning letter winners.
Seniors Taylor Coppedge and Melanie Laviano, both district qualifiers last year, will lead the way for Nordonia.
"Both Taylor and Melanie bring great leadership and experience," said Martin. "They understand the technique of swimming."
Sophomore Caroline Orzechowski, another district qualifier last season, is best in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
"Caroline is a good athlete," said Martin. "She’s found her niche in swimming. She’s done a great job in practice so far."
Senior Karli Konicek and sophomore diver Grace Weber will also be big contributors.
"Karli has the experience and works hard," Martin said. "Hopefully, Grace is going to give us some good things."
Other seniors on the team are Jill Drinko, Gina Fatica, Shannon Harvey, Hannah Hover, Emma Kleismit, Kendal Mozina, Renee Schlueter, Kayla Vasharhelyi and Harley Bodziony.
Junior team members are Nicole Gerhart and Morgan Harvey.
Other sophomores on the team are Paige Becker, Taylor Blazek, Jessie Dasher, Maddie Fiorucci, Makayla Johnson, Devon Knotts, Sydney McIntyre, Gwen Putz and Autumn Westbrooks.
Freshmen team members are Faith Hart, Sam Saba and Nina Marcoguiseppe.
Does Martin foresee any state qualifiers?
"If we continue to work hard, good things will happen," he said.
On the boys side, seniors Dom Dasher and Timmy Tomkovicz, district qualifiers last year, will lead the way in trying to offset the loss of five seniors to graduation last spring.
Dasher’s best events are the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, while Tomkovicz excels in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.
"Dom is an incredibly hard worker, and he’s been swimming for a long time," said Martin. "His sister was a state qualifier. It’s just in the family.
"Timmy is a hard worker, too. We have some quality in both Timmy and Dom. They’ve both been swimming for a long time and have the work ethic needed."
One team strength will be the divers, who have some depth.
"We have three experienced divers – seniors Jason Lewicki and Tyler Mosher and sophomore Joey Wahl," the coach said. "All of them work really hard. The more these guys do it, the better they get with the repetition."
The other diver is freshman Greg Lewicki.
Sophomore R.J. Wright, whose best events are the 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle, and freshman Sean Fulton are two others from whom Martin expects big things.
"R.J. needs to get more experience," he said. "He made some great improvement throughout last season. I think this year is going to be a big step forward for him. I like the way he’s working.
"Sean is one of the few experienced swimmers coming in. He swam with the Manta Rays Program out at the Nordonia Rec Center. I’m looking for him to make some contributions in the backstroke."
Senior Kevin Lewis, sophomore Sean Garvey and Jacob Horwarth are first-year swimmers.
"I don’t know what to expect from them," said Martin. "They’ve been working hard. I’m eager to see what they bring to the pool.
"Our 200 freestyle relay with Dom and Timmy and possibly Sean Fulton and R.J. could be one of our better relays.
"With the young group, we just want to get better each week. For Dom and Timmy, our ultimate goal is to get them to Canton for the state meet."
Martin’s assistant coaches are Emma Toaz, Bryan Gerber, Andy Pohlmeyer and Terry Toaz.
According to the coach, Hudson is the team to beat in the Suburban League National Conference.
"They have a great program," he said. "Twinsburg and Wadsworth are quality programs, too."
Both the boys and girls teams are scheduled to open the season at Wadsworth Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The two teams are set to compete at the Bedford Lions Relays Dec. 1 at 11 a.m.