2018-2019 South Caldwell Swimming Preview by Dan O’neal

SAWMILLS, NC (October 19, 2018) — The keyword for the upcoming Spartan swimming season is sure to be “leadership.”  After graduating many seniors from last year’s squads, the Spartan men’s and women’s swimming teams will be very young, but talented, this upcoming season. Coach Brent Tomberlin, in his 23rd season leading the program, is looking to the younger crop of swimmers which features more than forty swimmers on the roster.

The women’s team will be led by sophomore Kayana Taylor.  An accomplished YMCA swimmer, Taylor was an individual conference champion last year and a regional qualifier.  She was also in the running for Conference Swimmer of the Year.  She adds depth in nearly every event and is the most versatile swimmer on the team.  “My goal for Kayana is to make the state championship this year as an individual and part of a relay.  She is an exceptional swimmer with a winning attitude and we are going to need her leadership this season.”  Accompanying Taylor will be sophomore Anna Dodenhoff.  Dodenhoff swam well during her freshman campaign; finishing well in the sprint freestyle and backstroke events.  Senior Gabby Alessio will also be called on to assist in the sprint events which she swam well in last year.  Taylor, Dodenhoff, and Alessio are three returning swimmers to the freestyle relays which qualified for the NCHSAA Western Regional last season.  Juniors Victoria Deal and Maci Annas had a successful summer swimming and will help the Spartan women be successful.

Joining these three ladies will be freshmen Alexis Felts.  Felts adds immediate depth to a very young women’s squad and will compete in the IM, breaststroke, and backstroke events.  Freshmen Katie Cannon will be looked towards to score points as well and be an integral part of some relays.  Senior Maddisen Rose will provide depth in the distance freestyles and will provide added senior leadership.

“We have about six young ladies who will be swimming as freshmen for us this season.  We are going to need them to swim well for us immediately if we are going to be a competitive team, “ says Tomberlin, “For such a big and young team, we are going to have to work hard to find our places and the events where each young lady can score well.  That will be our challenge.”

The Spartan men’s team is coming off another winning season which saw them capture a back to back conference championship.  Having lost five leading members from last year’s team, a strong crop of freshmen and a few upperclassmen will be challenged to lead the team and to score points.

Conference Swimmer of the Year, sophomore Brody Carroll, will be the individual most expected to make an impact on this year’s team.  Carroll paced the Spartans last year, winning two conference events and helping the men’s 200 Free Relay make the state championship.  He is an exceptional swimmer who, like Kayana Taylor on the women’s side, is the most versatile of Spartan swimmers.  “My goal for Brody is to make the state championship in both of his individual events and to help a relay make it to states as well, “says Tomberlin.

Junior Matthew Hutchinson, a strong and versatile swimmer in his own right, will be expected to take on a bigger role this season.  Hutchinson specializes in the IM and fly events and will be an integral part of the men’s relays.  John Tucker, a senior transfer and former Caldwell County swimmer, will be asked to score needed points.  Senior Cameron Perry and sophomore Sawyer Rideout will be important swimmers for the Spartans too in the sprint and specialty events. Freshmen Luke Powell, Peyton Chester, and Ben Tomberlin will be called on immediately to make an impact as well.  Juniors Grayson Lovins, Jackson Reid, and Wade Mitchell should have opportunities to show how much they have improved in the water as well.

“There is no question there are big shoes to fill this season.  For a few years, we relied on upperclassmen talent to support us and now the bulk of our teams will be comprised of underclassmen who will need to get some high school competitions under their belt fast in order for us to be successful.  I’m very confident in our few upperclassmen and in their abilities to motivate and support our younger class, “says Tomberlin, “Leadership will be our challenge this year.  Learning to swim fast as a team is always our goal and we are going to work hard to achieve team success in the coming year ahead.”