August 22, 2012 - Coach Jacqueline Rank and the Oxford High School swim and dive team are just about ready to dive into another season of competition.
Front Row: L. Lopez(c), S. Kurk, A. Bertges, M. Stockard, M. Skelton, S. Mitzel, R. Brantley E. Hamilton, and A. Miller. Second Row: J. Rank (C) J. Fallis, B. Flasher, E. Ormiston, E. Wilkins, A. Frederick V. Dedvvkaj, C. Lavender, E. Sovis, A. Miller, S. Liverance, M. Johnson and H. Miller (c). Third Row: C. Silvestiri, M. Lavender, T. Curtis, J Brinker, A. Kronenberg, C. Wroblewski, A. Harvell, M. Murphy, L. Schimmel, H. Kornburger, C. Ealy and K. Barber. Not Pictured: H. Greensky-Christie, J. Pieczynski, M. Deck and R. FitzCrane. (click for larger version)
The Wildcat swim season extends from opening practices on Aug. 6 to the state meet on Nov. 17. This is a long slog, but Rank's got the woman-power to make it. On the one hand, "We have a lot of new swimmers that have never swum before (who) are just thinking about surviving these first few weeks." On the other hand, she's got plenty of talent in her sophomore and junior classes, and she's finding "a lot of depth" in the seniors she is coaching this year.
Rank aims to improve over last year's league placement. "It wasn't quite the season that we wanted. We had some injuries and some not-so-great swims, though we had some really good ones as well." Rank expects more of the latter this season.
To meet that goal, she has her team working to stay healthy from the start so that they are strong at the end when it counts the most. Right now, the swimmers are in training, working on fitness and injury-preventative exercises and stretches because one of Rank's chief goals is to keep her swimmers in top condition all season long. "We have a lot of shoulder injuries toward the end," she said, "(so) I really want to make sure that our girls stay healthy throughout the entire season."
"The end of the season is the most important part," Rank added. She doesn't discount the season and league meets along the way, but says that "obviously whoever can post the fastest times makes the top eight and the top 16," and those times are what will provide entrance into County and State rankings.
Beginning with the end in mind is a sound strategy, but Rank also has some nearer-term goals she'd like her swimmers to meet. She's looking for higher placement in the OAA. Last year was the Wildcats first year in the Blue division, so Ranks wants an improvement over their inaugural year.
Specifically, she wants to see senior captain Haley Cornberger excel. Hailing Cornberger as "one of our top athletes," Rank would like Cornberger to surpass last year's third place finish in the 100m butterfly at the state meet.
Cornberger also placed fifth in the 50m freestyle, so it's evident she has loads of ability in the lane. However, Rank is not content with Cornberger's past performances, and expects the young Wildcat to leave last year's mark in her wake. "We obviously want to be able to see her post some fast times again," said the Coach.
"We'd really like to get some relays to go (to State)," Rank added. "We had the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay make it last year. Haley Cornberger and Taylor Curtis (who are still on the team) were part of that relay (but) there were two seniors (who graduated) so we're going to need girls to be able to step up," Rank challenged.
Other goals include returning Taylor Curtis to the State meet, and "to just have more girls qualify . . . than you did the previous year."
The other half of the aquatic program at OHS is the diving team, led by Lou Lopez. He's pumped about the upcoming season, but quickly admits the adversity facing this squad. Only two students have come out for the team so far, and mastering the number and variety of dives will take a while for these beginners.
Though they're just starting, Lopez praised his divers. "They're coming along, and there are possibilities," he said. "The attitudes are there, and I've got to give them credit because they are trying," Lopez.
Rank said that since diving scores are added to the swim team point totals, missing divers puts the OHS swim team at a severe disadvantage. Lopez confessed that though "our first meet is Aug. 30, we won't have a diver" ready for Aug. 30.
Since many swim meets are decided by a slim margin, the 13 points given away by not placing in a diving competition will handicap the Wildcat's overall effort.
There is plenty of time to join the diving team, however, and Rank and Lopez called on all OHS girls to take the plunge. "It's not too late to join the team. You don't need to have experience, you just need to be willing to try," Coach Rank said. "Gymnastic, tumbling, cheer experience obviously helps, but is not a prerequisite."
All that is needed is willingness to try and a courage to jump in. If interested in finding your place on the OHS diving team, contact Coach Rank or Coach Lopez at the high school.
Oxford swimmers are poised to make a splash at the start of another exciting season. Rank asks the community to come out and cheer on her student athletes.
Obviously with more support, Rank reasons, "the more the girls get pumped up, and if they see the encouragement . . . that would just push them a little bit more to become a better team to represent the whole district of Oxford."
The OHS swim season is bearing down like a shark. The first meet is on August 30 at Farmington Hills, and the home-opener will be held on September 6 at 6:00 p.m. against Royal Oak. To see their entire schedule, visit the athletics calendar at www.oxfordschools.org.