By Nick Gonnella Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — The upcoming Greensburg girls swimming season, which starts Thursday night, has the potential to feature the most successful team in the program’s history.
Not only have the numbers increased over the past year, but new additions and hard work in the offseason will strengthen the squad’s prospects this winter.
“We’re going to be pretty tough this year,” said head coach Josh Hawkins. “I’ll go out on a limb and say we’ll have the best Greensburg swim team it’s had.”
Along with returning 100 percent of the points scored in the 2013 Columbus North Sectional, Greensburg looks to break several school records.
The Aqua Lady Pirates will take their marks for the first time tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. against visiting Shelbyville.
Including four seniors, Hawkins will have 14 swimmers step onto the blocks.
“As long as we say healthy, we’re going to fill every lane in every meet,” he said. “We’d lose meets in the past just from not filling the lanes.”
A winning attitude and the abundance of talent won’t hurt, either. Hawkins said the program has reached the point of taking a step forward competitively.
“We have some quality swimmers,” said Hawkins. “We have some competitive swimmers who just want to win. There’s just a lot of talent we have on the girls team. A lot of it is just drawing out that talent.”
Returning for her fourth season is senior Megan McDole, accompanied by fellow seniors Morgan Springmeyer, Morgan Stagge and Valeria Martinez.
McDole will swim the individual medley and play a “utility” role on the team.
“Megan is swimming great right now in practice,” said Hawkins. “I’m excited to see her race. She’s a hard worker. I hope that hard work pays off for her, because she grinds it out for four years and deserves it.”
Morgan Stagge, a third-year swimmer, was a sectional finalist in the backstroke. She will swim backstroke and freestyle this year. Stagge battled through a challenging soccer season, but was selected for the Indiana Elite North/South Senior game.
“She’s gone through some big adversity,” said Hawkins of Stagge. “She maintains a great attitude and great work ethic. If there’s a kid I really desire to succeed, it’s her.”
Morgan Springmeyer will swim breaststroke and has been a solid contributor on relay teams.
“She’s a fierce competitor who loves to compete and hates to lose,” said Hawkins. “If she stays consistent and works hard, I really look for her to have a great senior season.”
Valeria Martinez, a fourth-year swimmer, is a butterfly specialist.
“She’s improved over these years,” said Hawkins. “She practices hard and loves to get better. She adds a lot of energy to our team.”
Sophomore co-captain Bri Stagge has impressed Hawkins enough that he calls her the “heart and soul” of the team. Stagge, who also golfs, is swimming sprint, distance and mid-distance events this season.
“She is the workhorse of the team,” said Hawkins. “There’s not a kid who works harder or is more committed to swimming.”
Hawkins said he would not be surprised to see Stagge break four school records this season.
Also a threat to set school records is junior co-captain Molly Oesterling. Hawkins said Oesterling could break three marks.
“We’re that fast,” he said of the record-setting potential.
Two more second-year sophomores, Abby Bausback and Alli Duerstock, add veteran experience to the squad. Bausback is a backstroke swimmer and Duerstock will swim freestyle and breaststroke.
Junior Ashley Koontz returns to the Aqua Pirates as a distance freestyle swimmer.
Junior Danielle Schroeder, a three-sport athlete and standout tennis player, will swim varsity for the first time. She will swim freestyle and mid-distance.
“She’s a heck of an athlete,” said Hawkins of Schroeder.
Four freshmen look to aid Greensburg’s depth.
“We have some really strong, younger girls in the program,” he said.
Kara Niles will swim butterfly and sprint freestyle.
“She enjoys swimming,” said Hawkins of Niles, the younger sister of sophomore Brady Niles.
McKinley Bottoms will swim backstroke and freestyle. Freshman Emily Eberhardt is breaststroke specialist. Emma Overmyer, a soccer player and first-year swimmer, will swim freestyle.
Hawkins said Greensburg is striving to build swimmers’ versatility, a trait that will benefit the team long term.
“One thing we’re trying to accomplish is being proficient at all four strokes,” he said.
By the time the waves in the pool calm and the water settles, the swimmers might see their names on the record boards. Hawkins believes all but three records will be broken.
School records, though, will matter little to opposing teams as soon as the Pirates take their lane assignments against competing schools. It all begins tomorrow night against Shelbyville.
“Thursday will be indicative of how it’s going to go,” said Hawkins.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.