Eleanor Roosevelt knows the challenges will come soon enough.
Off to another hot start, the Raiders boys’ and girls’ teams continue to tinker with lineups to find the ideal combinations as they’ve rolled to 6-0 marks to start the season. But the dual meet season provides a valuable opportunity to drop times and construct the best lineups possible for the upcoming county, region and state meets.
“We’re looking to repeat winning both county championships and hopefully we can finish in the top three in the regional meet,” Coach Anne Koroknay said. “We’re always aiming to take home that trophy as well, and we’re off to a great start.”
Saturday, Eleanor Roosevelt’s girls cruised past Crossland (139-25) and Laurel (127-43), and the boys’ followed suit, downing the Cavaliers (134-20) and Spartans (107-62) as the Raiders combined to win 18 of the 22 overall events.
On the girls’ side, the Raiders return several key contributors to their 2010 4A/3A Central Region championship team. Senior captain Callie Betman had hoped to finish higher than the 10th place finish she earned in the 500 free at last year’s state meet, and that desire has fueled her this winter. Betman specializes in distance events and has owned the 500 free so far this season.
Junior Courtney Like-Mathews – who took fourth in the 100 back and 10th in the 200 IM at states and swept both events Saturday – remains a force in the 200 IM and 200 free while sophomore Emily Boluda has shown the ability to step up in a number of different events as one of the team’s top distance swimmers. Sophomore Natasha Chomko is the Raiders’ go-to sprinter and has benefited from a more rigorous year-round practices after she recently switched club teams. Freshman Jennifer Clune has already established herself as the team’s top breastroker and Koroknay is looking for other places to use her to pick up points.
“I think we’re well on our way,” Koroknay said of her girls’ team. “We haven’t really had a lot of close competition, and it might not be until we get to the county and regional meets that we’re truly tested.”
Graduations depleted the boys’ ranks and depth remains a concern, but a trio of boys who took home top-10 finishes from last year’s state meet lead a team hoping to improve on last year’s second-place result at regionals.
Junior Lee Friedman turned in a stellar performance at states, taking second in the 200 free (1:53.36) and third in the 100 free (51.35) and continues to be an all-around threat for the Raiders. Saturday he swept the 200 IM and 50 free.
Sophomore Dennis Witol (100 free, 100 back) was also a double-winner Saturday and has been working to improve his breast and backstroke as the Raiders search for more versatility up and down their lineup. Daniel Chavez, another sophomore, epitomizes that effort. Already strong a strong butterfly and medley swimmer, he swept the 200 and 500 free over the weekend.
“The boys’ team is very focused this year on putting out the best showing for the overall team,” Koroknay said. “That’s really important when you get to the end of the season and it’s a mentality I like having.”
“I think we’ll give our big rivals a good meet,” Koroknay said. “They sometimes have better depth and pick up those fourth and fifth place points – which add up – but we’re confident in our swimmers. That meet will be a good indicator of what’s to come at counties and regionals.”
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