Warriors skip swimming rebuild

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nansemond River High School sophomore Brandon Eubanks is one of the Warriors' year-round swimmers that is making this a strong year for the team rather than a rebuilding season. (Melissa Eubanks photo)

Nansemond River High School sophomore Brandon Eubanks is one of the Warriors’ year-round swimmers that is making this a strong year for the team rather than a rebuilding season. (Melissa Eubanks photo)

Nansemond River High School’s swimming program lost some key swimmers from its successful 2014-15 season, prompting coach James “Shamus” Riley to expect that part of the 2015-16 season would be focused on rebuilding.

However, that has not been the case.

The girls’ team has not seen any major departures due to graduation or otherwise, so while it is 3-4 currently, it could come close to last year’s regular season record of 5-4, followed by more success in the postseason.

Email newsletter signup

The boys’ team, however, saw standouts Michael Betts and Cody Edwards graduate in 2015. They were two of three Warrior swimmers to qualify for the 2015 Group 4A state championships in four events.

Furthermore, senior Daniel Kent and sophomore Canandez Long decided not to swim this season.

Betts, Edwards, Kent and Long contributed to a Warriors team that went 6-3 during the 2014-15 regular season, repeated as Ironclad Conference champions and also took sixth at the 2015 4A South Region championships.

Despite those four swimmers being gone for the 2015-16 campaign, “the boys’ team actually looks just as strong as last year,” Riley said.

The Warriors are 4-3 and could finish the season at 5-3 with a win over King’s Fork High School on Saturday. Like the Lady Warriors, the Warriors will not end up competing in as many regular season meets as last season since their meet this past Saturday was canceled due to inclement weather.

Nansemond River’s boys are again led by Logan Eubanks, now a senior who has been the conference, regional and state champion in the 100-yard backstroke for the past two seasons.

Having made the move up to Group 5A this season, Nansemond River got a good idea of what it was up against at its new level of competition when it competed in the Kecoughtan High School Invitational. The event featured top teams in the state from 3A to 6A.

“Menchville (High School) is actually one of the top teams in the state,” Riley said, referring to not only a 5A team but also a fellow member with NR in the PenSouth Conference.

Riley anticipates both his boys and girls will be competing with Kecoughtan for second place in the conference behind Menchville.

Eubanks finished sixth in the 100 backstroke at the Kecoughtan Invitational, while Warriors freshman Allen Zachary finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle.

“Allen Zachary actually already holds five school records as an individual,” Riley said, noting these were records formerly held by the likes of Eubanks, Edwards and Betts in events including the 50-, 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly.

“He’s actually qualified already for the 200 freestyle for the state championships,” Riley said, while adding Zachary has also made the cut for regionals in the 200 individual medley, the 50 free, 100 free, 400 free and 100 fly.

Zachary looks capable of becoming a team leader similar to Eubanks, and the Warriors are also benefiting from the bonus of a couple of other year-round swimmers.

Those swimmers include sophomore Clay Bennett, sophomore Brandon Eubanks, junior Zach Doleman, freshman Parker Doleman and freshman Hunter Ward.

The 2014-15 season was the first in which any female Nansemond River swimmer had ever qualified for states, individually or in a relay. Kaitlyn Higgins and Claire Janek qualified in four events, helped the Lady Warriors repeat as conference champs, place fifth at regionals and they return this season as seniors, leading the team along with senior Tayler Pearl.

Other key contributors include senior Lisa Terry, senior Kendall Webster and freshman Haley Russell.

Nansemond River faces King’s Fork on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Great Bridge Swim and Racquet Club in Chesapeake.