Twinsburg swimming and diving looks to continue its success from last season as the boys and girls teams for 15 district qualifiers.
That’s the most district qualifiers in school history coupled with the fact the boys return a pair of seniors who represented Twinsburg in the Division I state championships last season in Colin Martin and Brad Yates.
Seven-year head coach Kirtis Huelsman has high optimism this winter for his promising boys squad and an experienced and youth mix for the girls team.
When Huelsman talks of his athletes and teams, he looks at it as whole — for the Tiger program.
Huelsman, whose clubs opened the season at North Royalton Friday, has goals for the mindset of his swimmers and divers as well as post season goals.
"We have a lot of returnees that qualified for districts and our goal is to teach the new swimmers about the swimming lifestyle, so they will be able to make decisions to continue the success of the program as we move forward," Huelsman explained.
Twinsburg has some bright returning performers on both the boys and girls teams.
District qualifiers back for the boys include senior Martin (butterfly, 100 breast stroke, and freestyle), senior Mitch Govang (100 backstroke, 50 and 100 free), Yates (diving), senior Jake McGlumphy (diving), senior Jacob Atienza (free, breaststroke), and junior Evan Bartel (free, backstroke, and relays).
The Lady Tigers also have their share of talent coming back.
Returning district qualifiers for the girls are senior Piper Lash (diving), senior Katie McCoy (free, backstroke), junior Madison Zelenka (backstroke, butterfly), senior Angela DeFabio (free), and versatile senior Allison Porach (breaststroke, butterfly, and free).
"Our goal is to break at least eight team records overall and we plan on sending at least 12 athletes to the District meet," Huelsman said.
"We would like at least a top eight finish at the state meet this season," added the coach, alluding to individual finishes in the post season.
Martin placed 13th in Ohio in the 100 fly last year.
Yates finished 21st in diving in the state in 2017-18.
In the preliminary heat at states, Martin broke his own school record in the 100-yard butterfly with a blazing time of 51.03 seconds. That effort qualified Martin for the state finals, where he touched 13th overall in Ohio to earn four team points by registering a time of 51.27 seconds.
Meanwhile Yates is the first male diver to qualify for states in 16 years at Twinsburg.
Yates made his first state tourney experience a positive one in competing in the 1-meter diving field in Canton. He was 21st in Ohio with a first-round dive of 165.90 points in the preliminaries, and had a superb score of 345.35 in districts.
Martin touched seventh overall in the 100 butterfly at the CSU districts.
Govang also is talented as he owns the school record in the 100 backstroke for the Tigers as well as the 500 freestyle.
Twinsburg, which also broke school marks last year in the 200 and 400 free relays, hopes to improve in the loaded Suburban League this year, but the schedule is brutal. Last year, both teams were fifth in the league.
"In terms of total team competition, we plan to achieve top four this season in the Suburban League," said the Tiger mentor. "North Royalton and Stow are our closest matches in the league."
Assisting Huelsman will be Melissa Walters and diving coach Marc Calahane.
Top newcomers, according to Huelsman, will be freshmen Madalyn Dolney (individual medley, breaststroke), Jasmine Freeman (IM), Jack Bartel (free, breaststroke) and Nate Bartel (free, breaststroke).
Twinsburg opened the 2018-19 season in a double dual meet against Suburban League foes Stow and North Royalton at the North Royalton Family YMCA Saturday.
Govang broke the school record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 57.24 seconds.
Martin shattered the record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 101.99.
Yates won in the diving with a score of 229.35 as the boys won 93-90 over North Royalton and lost 105-78 to Stow-Munroe Falls/
In girls action, Twinsburg lost 126-5-59.5 to Stow (2-0) and 109-71 to North Royalton.
In upcoming action, the Tigers compete at Brecksville Wednesday at 6 p.m., host Cuyahoga Falls Friday at 6 p.m. and compete at the annual Canton McKinley Christmas Invitational Dec. 15.