Area swimmers well represented at states

Strasburg's Cassie Cooper competes in the 200-yard freestyle during the Shenandoah County swim meet held Wednesday night at the Strasburg Recreation Center.  Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg's Cassie Cooper competes in the 200-yard freestyle during the Shenandoah County swim meet held Wednesday night at the Strasburg Recreation Center. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Virginia High School League state swimming championships will be held in Christiansburg over the next few days, and the area will be well represented.

Strasburg is sending 16 swimmers to the Group 2A swim meet, while Central (3A) has five, Sherando (4A) has two and Stonewall Jackson (2A) has 11.

“I am very excited for this group of swimmers,” Strasburg coach Ina Rae Crisman said. “It took awhile to gel together, but they are peaking at the right time.”

Strasburg’s boys finished fifth in the Region 2A East tournament, while the girls placed sixth.

Individually, Evan Davis qualified in two events (200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke), while Nathan Hershey (200 freestyle), Christian Neff (100 free) and Riley Daugherty (100 backstroke) qualified on the boys side. Nicole Killen (50 free), Cassie Cooper (100 butterfly) and Haleigh Mills (500 free) all qualified individually for the girls.

Three Strasburg boys relay teams advanced to the state meet: 200 medley (Daugherty, Davis, Hershey and Christian Neff), 200 free (Daugherty, Hershey, Davis and Neff) and 400 free (Hershey, Nathan McDonald, Brian Scholten and Ian Priest). Three Strasburg girls relay teams also advanced: 200 medley (Abigail Murphy, Maggie Miller, Cooper and Killen), 200 free (Murphy, Christian Hepner, Killen and Cooper) and 400 free (Caitlin Hart, Kara Dolly, Rachel Funkhouser and Hepner).

The boys 200 medley relay and 200 free relay each finished fifth in the region. Crisman said she believes the 200 free relay could have a very good state meet.

“At the region meet they did not go their best time, but they are working very hard this week in trying to tweak their starts,” Crisman said. “It is a very good combination of boys and they work well together.”

The Group 2A swim meet is on Saturday. Crisman said that Davis, Hershey and Neff should each have a good chance at making the finals.

“Nathan Hershey has just stated swimming the 200 free and each time he has been taking time off, three-and-a-half seconds a race. If that continues, he can do very well at the state meet,” Crisman said. “Christian Neff is in the 100 free, which is a very competitive event, as all are. If he can get a good start he has a very good chance at the finals. Forty percent of all races are in the starts, turns, and finishes.”

Crisman said she also believes that the state meet will be a great experience for Cooper, who is just a sophomore.

“She is young and needs a little bit more experience, but I think the state meet will be a good showcase for her to learn,” Crisman said of Cooper. “She is very competitive and that’s a good thing, if she can use it as a positive.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Daniel Mathes is the only General going in an individual event in the Group 2A state meet. He will be swimming in the 200 free and the 500 free.

Stonewall Jackson will have a 200 medley relay team (Tyler Lacek, Charlie Knauff, Lukas Foltz and Ben Rosenberger) and a 400 free relay team (Rosenberger, Foltz, Mathes and Lacek).

The Generals will also have two girls relay teams at the state meet, the 200 free relay team (Lindsay Shifflett, Savannah Miller, Allyson Clar and Kylie Biller) and the 400 free relay team (Shifflett, Lacey Kagey, Justine Perkins and Miller).

The Generals finished seventh in the boys and ninth in the girls at the Region 2A East meet last weekend.

“My swimmers had a great meet, swimming some of their best times of the season,’ Stonewall Jackson coach Diana Knauff said. “Not sure how things will go at states, but I do think Daniel Mathes has a good chance to qualify in the finals and possibly one of the boys relays as well.

“I am so proud of my swimmers. They have worked so hard and are excited about going to states.”

Sherando may only have two swimmers going, but both have good reason to feel great about their chances.

Laura Ferguson will be in the 50 and 100 free. Last year she finished 10th in the 50 free. Ferguson also qualified in the 100 backstroke, but chose to focus on the 50 and 100 free.

“Laura stands an excellent chance of making into the championship round, top 8, in both events based on results from both regions,” Sherando coach Joe Knight said. “Certainly, she should make the top 16. Our goal is top eight.”

The Group 4A meet will be held in Christiansburg on Friday, after being pushed back a day due to the weather.

The Warriors’ Ethan Medrano also qualified in the 50 and 100 free. Knight said it will be tough for Medrano to make it to the finals, but he’s capable of doing it. Knight said that based on time there were 13 boys ahead of Medrano in the 50 free and 12 in the 100 free, but most of the swimmers are separated by less than a second.

“He swam extremely well in the Region 4A North Championship and is highly motivated to swim well this year,” Knight said. “Last year he was on two of our state relay teams, but did not qualify as an individual in his own right. … So, he’s really excited to be going.”

Central’s Trevor Wolf has the best chance to shine at the 3A state swim meet, which is also scheduled for Friday. Wolf placed ninth in the 50 free last year, despite battling food poisoning. He will also be in the 100 free, and Central coach Steve Shaffer said he believes the senior could place in both events.

“Certainly, he wants to make amends for last year,” Shaffer said of Wolf. “I think he can step up to the plate and place in both, if he can have a good morning swim.”

Central freshman Dean Woodwell will be swimming in the 200 IM and the 100 fly. Both Wolf and Woodwell will be part of the 400 free relay team, along with Josiah Selby and Ethan Coleman. Central freshman Ashley Funkhouser is the lone girls representing the Falcons at the state meet, as she will be in the 100 free.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or

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