Bulldogs swimmers develop with new coach

Published 9:37 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

King's Fork High School junior Emma Marston competes as part of a young girls' team that is looking for its first win this season, but has shown effort and growth that has pleased new coach Erin Manning. (Caroline LaMagna photo)

King’s Fork High School junior Emma Marston competes as part of a young girls’ team that is looking for its first win this season, but has shown effort and growth that has pleased new coach Erin Manning. (Caroline LaMagna photo)

The King’s Fork High School boys’ and girls’ swimming teams are short on upperclassmen this year outside of a few key veterans, but they have been learning and growing through the first half of the 2014-15 season.

“I’m really pleased,” said new coach Erin Manning. “The kids are working hard.”

The boys’ team currently holds a record of 2-3, while the girls’ team is still searching for its first win at 0-5. Manning expressed a positive perspective on their performance, nonetheless, noting the teams’ records could easily be the same.

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The girls have had two very close meets, one against Oscar Smith High School and the other against Deep Creek High School, one of which the Lady Bulldogs competed without a couple of their top swimmers.

This is Manning’s first season as a high school varsity head swimming coach. She has prior experience as an assistant coach at the high school level during her first year of teaching in Pennsylvania.

Prior to that, she was no stranger to the pool as a competitor.

“I’ve been swimming all my life,” she said. “I swam all through high school, and then I swam the first year of college.”

She attended high school in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and college at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

Manning focused on academics after her freshman year of college and developed her specialty in Latin, which she teaches for two different Suffolk schools — King’s Fork on odd days and Lakeland High School on even days.

“When you teach Latin, you’re a busy person,” she said.

After initially hesitating due to her packed schedule, she accepted the responsibility of coaching King’s Fork in the pool.

“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I came in,” she said, but she spent time studying what the team was like last year.

She learned the boys’ side lost some key swimmers due to graduation, including Hunter Lowe, now swimming for West Virginia Wesleyan College, and Corbin Morse.

Among the key losses for the girls’ team due to graduation was team captain Rebecca Bangley.

“I knew I wasn’t getting a lot of upperclassmen,” Manning said. “It’s a lot of sophomores, a couple juniors and some freshmen.”

Some important upperclassmen remain, however.

Leading the boys’ this year has been senior Hugh Long, who Manning hopes to see return to regionals.

No one on the team has yet qualified for that level of competition, but Manning said there is plenty of time left for that.

“I would love to have six to eight regional qualifiers and hopefully, from there, get to states,” she said.

Long’s primary event is the 400-meter freestyle.

Junior Alexander Kaye has shown strength in the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter individual medley.

“He’s really stepped up as a leader,” Manning said. “His times have dropped every single meet.”

Sophomore Steven Ramlogan is an up-and-comer who Manning said has improved tremendously.

“He doesn’t really have a stroke yet,” she said. “He’s just kind of swimming everything.”

For the Lady Bulldogs, juniors Sonora Curliss and Carlee Morse are the standouts, both looking for a return trip to regionals after last season. Curliss is strong in the backstroke and individual medley, while Morse is a good sprint freestyle swimmer.

Up-and-comers among the girls include freshmen Grace Merryfield and Hannah Marston.

“I’m excited to watch them develop the next three years,” Manning said.

Curliss, Morse, Merryfield and Marston make up the 200-meter medley relay and the 200-meter freestyle relay for the Lady Bulldogs.

The King’s Fork swimming teams face off against Grassfield High School on Saturday at the Great Bridge Swim and Racquet Club.