As the bitter winds of late November roll in, Fairmont’s winter sports teams are beginning to heat up and prepare to win.
Last year’s Division 1 State Coach of the Year Tim Cogan and the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team are looking for another extremely successful year this season. Last year the girls took their game to the State Final Four, where they lost in a close game to Toledo Waite, 61-55.
The Firebirds lost GWOC Player of the Year Cassie Sant and have a very young team this year. There are four freshmen and three sophomores on the varsity team. “Our success depends on them and how quick they can learn,” said Coach Tim Cogan. “They have a chance to be very good.”
Sophomore Chelsea Welch, who was named to the GWOC First Team last year, and senior Kelly Hart are two of the veteran players ready to step up to the challenge, which begins on Nov. 26 against Thurgood Marshall at Trent Arena.
The Varsity Boys’ Basketball team had a strong year last year with a 15-9, but Head Coach Hank Bias isn’t sure what to expect from this season’s team.
“I have no idea about how we will do this year,” he said. “We lost four starters and have a very young team.”
The team lost senior starters Matt Lee, Mark Shadowens, Kevin Sharick and Sherman Wilkinson, who were all important to the team’s defensive game last year.
“Our team isn’t as big as last year, but we have more speed and better ball-handlers. If they can defend well, then they’ll have a competitive chance,” said Bias.
The boys open their season Dec. 7 against Miamisburg at home.
Swimming & Diving
Even though the swim team lost State champion Abby Galbreath to graduation, they still plan to have a successful season. Returning for the swim team is junior Natalie Rohr, who finished second at State in the 50 Free. She also broke the Fairmont record in the 50 Freestyle, a record previously held by her older sister.
Other strong returning swimmers are seniors Daniel Stromingher and Kevin LaVoy.
“I think we’re going to have a good season as a team this year,” said senior Lindsey Overberg. “Everyone is willing to put in great effort.”
Returning for the dive team are four-year varsity divers Kaydee Miller and Kyle Flenar. Miller is representing the dive team as last year’s “Outstanding Diver,” an award given to her by the coaches at last season’s banquet.
Boys’ and Girls’ Bowling
The Fairmont Bowling teams look to continue their success from last season from both the Boys’ and Girls’ sides.
The Varsity Boys’ Bowling team, with returning GWOC Bowling Coach of the Year Rex Wolfe, bowled their way to a 19-1 record last year and a second-place finish in GWOC. They have returning bowlers in juniors Ronald Pohl and Zachery Grubb, who finished in the top 10 among all GWOC bowlers last season.
“I think our team is better than last year,” said junior Ryan Wolfe. “I think we have a good chance of making it to State this year.”
The Varsity Girls’ Bowling team was 12-8 last year and finished tied for fourth in the GWOC. The girls have sophomore Molly Crouch, who was 12th in the GWOC standings last year. “I think we’ll do well,” said Crouch. “Our coach is taking a new approach to things and I’m interested to see how it goes.”
The Varsity Wrestling team, led by past District qualifiers Derek Short and Justin Sage, expects to have another strong winter. In addition to those senior leaders, the Firebirds have junior Tommy Kimbrell, who is an Amateur Athletic Union and Junior Olympic medalist, plus junior Justin Kihn and sophomore Matt Denlinger, who was on the All-GWOC team last year.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Coach Frank Baxter. “We have some very experienced and high-level athletes. Outside of those wrestlers, we have a very young team.”
Baxter looks forward to the GWOC, Sectional, District and State tournaments, along with the “Battle of Far Hills” match against Centerville on Jan. 27, 2011.
Flyer Sports Editor Kelly Hart wrote the Swimming and Diving portion of this story.