CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock boys swimming team might be made up of just six swimmers, but with four upperclassmen, and three swimmers back from last year’s team, the experience is there.
The Royals lost just one senior, Joey Blocher, and enter this year with two seniors at the top of the roster.
Kyle Messer, the team’s top placer at the New Palestine Sectional is back, along with Gus Upchurch who will be swimming varsity this season after transferring in and competing at the junior varsity level last season.
“I think that we have a lot of talent this year with our upperclassmen,” Eastern Hancock head coach Mike Dolence said. “The return of Kyle and the addition of Gus to our varsity squad this year will give the team a lot of leadership and experience, not to mention fast swimming.”
Messer placed fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and sixth in the 500 freestyle at the sectional meet last season.
Along with that pair of seniors, the Royals return junior Kameron Adkins from last year’s team of five.
“I would say that the majority of the group is experienced. We have some kids that are year-round swimmers which certainly helps our small program,” Dolence said. “Additionally we have swimmers like Kameron who are multi-sport and have the great ability to quickly get back into shape and contribute to the team.”
Junior Isaiah Harris rounds out the Royals upperclassmen and brings past experience from competing in middle school a few years ago.
“The addition of Isaiah Harris, who had swam in middle school, helps us to shore up our sprinting and relays,” Dolence said.
Joining those four upperclassmen will be a pair of freshmen who swam for the middle school last year, Clint Martin and Paul Surburg.
Dolence expects both to play a key role right away.
“Both Paul and Clint had decent eighth-grade seasons and have had good preseason conditioning,” Dolence said. “I look for them to be immediate contributors to our team.”
While the Royals enter the season with a strong group of upperclassmen and talented freshmen, in a sport with no class separation, Dolence knows the team has its work cut out for it come sectional time.
Improving on last year’s finishes and putting themselves in the conversation in individual events are what Dolence hopes to see come the end of the season.
“Being a small school having to compete in a one-class sectional with much larger schools, we don’t have the expectation of winning the overall meet,” Dolence said. “But we are looking to be as disruptive as possible to the teams that are the perennial winners.”
The Royals open the season Monday with a tri-meet against Connersville and Seton Catholic at Connersville.
2023-24 Eastern Hancock Boys Swimming and Diving Schedule
Nov. 20;at Centerville/Seton Catholic;6 p.m.
Nov. 28;vs. Connersville/Batesville;6 p.m.
Nov. 30;at Lawrence Central/Purdue Polytechnic;5:30 p.m.
Dec. 5;at North Central/Guerin Catholic;6 p.m.
Dec. 7;at New Palestine/New Castle;5:30 p.m.
Dec. 12;vs. Muncie Burris;6 p.m.
Dec. 16;Eastern Hancock Invitational;9 a.m.
Dec. 19;vs. Heritage Christian/Lapel;6 p.m.
Dec. 30;vs. Willoughby South;TBD
Jan. 2;at Indian Creek Invite;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 4;vs. Blackford/Elwood/Frankton;6 p.m.
Jan. 11;vs. Bishop Chatard/Scecina;6 p.m.
Jan. 16;at Richmond;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 20;at Warren Central Warrior Invite;10 a.m.
Jan. 24;vs. Hagerstown;6 p.m.
Jan. 30;at Greensburg;5:30 p.m.