EH girls enter season full of experience

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Eastern Hancock’s Cora McDaniel competes in the 500-yard freestyle during the New Palestine Sectional.

Tom Russo | The Daily Reporter

By Brady Extin | Daily Reporter

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — The 2022-23 Eastern Hancock girls swimming team enters the season as one of the most experienced teams in recent school history.

Four of the eight members from last year’s team return to try and help push Eastern Hancock swimming forward.

“We have the majority of our team back this year, so I’m looking for them to continue to improve throughout the year,” head coach Mike Dolence said.

The Royals finished ninth out of 11 teams at the New Palestine Sectional, where the majority of participants have much larger school enrollments.

Despite the size difference, the Royals had two relays and two individuals place at the sectional meet, in Cora McDaniel and Dolence’s daughter, Sophia.

McDaniel, a four-year member of the team, has placed seventh at the sectional meet the last two seasons in the 500-yard freestyle, and placed fifth her sophomore year in the 100 freestyle.

“Cora is the only four-year returning senior this year, so it does help to have her back, but we have a tight-knit group that works hard,” coach Dolence said.

After setting most of the middle school team’s records, Sophia Dolence joined the Royals last season as a freshman.

In her first season at the high school level, she placed sixth at the sectional in the 200 individual medley.

“Sophia will be in her second year, so I also look for her to be a key contributor to the team this year,” the coach said.

Both girls were members of the 200 and 400 free relay teams that placed seventh at the sectional meet.

Adding to the team this season will be three newcomers to the roster, Sarah Ebert, Caitlin Sipes and Noelle Weimann.

Coach Dolence expects Ebert, a freshman, and Weimann, an exchange student from Germany, to be key pieces to the team right away.

“We’re hoping that Sarah and Noelle will both be able to come in and immediately contribute to the team,” the coach said.

Sipes, a transfer from New Castle, will be swimming JV this season.

According to coach Dolence, the Royals are also working on adding diving to the team this season, and he hopes to be able to enter in a few meets.

Eastern Hancock opens the season today at home at 6 p.m. against New Castle and Batesville.