WAYNESBORO – The 2021-22 winter sports season was a history maker for Waynesboro Area Senior High School.
The Waynesboro boys’ and girls’ swim teams dropped the word “independent” from the teams and, instead of competing unattached at meets, the teams competed for the first time as fully- sanctioned Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association squads.
“The swimmers this year are very excited,” said coach Sharon McIlquham. “Some of them have been swimming their entire lives. This is the first year they are competing for their school. They get to compete and win meets. They are very excited about the team aspect this year.”
In the past, swimmers competed in invitationals in order to get places to qualify for post-season competition.
Now, Waynesboro takes part in dual and multi-team meets in addition to invitationals.
Members of the history-making roster, with their year in school and events they compete in, are:
Joelle Blake (sr., backstroke and freestyle), Cara Toney (sr., freestyle and butterfly), Emma Swanson (jr., freestyle), Brenna Naddeo (jr., freestyle and backstroke), Ashlyn Carbaugh (soph., freestyle), Belle Hess (soph., breaststroke and freestyle), Maddie Stoops (soph., freestyle and backstroke), Mya Beck (soph., freestyle), Savannah Brake (soph., backstroke), Ava Brandes (fr., butterfly), Delaney Stains (fr., distance), Eve Phillips (fr., butterfly), Katie Doverspike (manager)
Noah Collier (sr., sprints and backstroke), Takoda Kauffman (jr., freestyle), Brenner McIlquham (soph., freestyle), Aiden Hess (fr., butterfly and breaststroke), Justin Bonner (fr., distance), Ryland Marshall (fr., backstroke)
The following swimmers have qualified for the upcoming Mid-Penn Conference Championships: Belle Hess, Brenna Naddeo, Cara Toney, Emma Swanson, Eve Philips, Joelle Blake, Mya Beck, Aiden Hess, Brenner McIlquham, JB Bonner and Noah Collier
The girls team is 7-1-1 this season, the boys are 1-6.
McIlquham swam competitively at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh as well as in college at Clarion University. Her husband, Eric, was a national champion at Oakland (Mich.) University and coached the sport at the University of Virginia and the University of Alabama.
“I’ve been a swimmer,” Sharon McIlquham said. “It’s definitely a passion.”
The teams practice Monday through Friday for two hours a day and spend one day a week on strength and conditioning.
“Swimming is a different sport. It’s a technique-driven sport. I’m excited about the opportunity to help improve their technique.”
The teams are not affiliated with a league, which McIlquham said posed a challenge in putting together a schedule.
“We piecemealed a schedule together, with tri-meets,” McIlquham said.
Sarah Stains rounds out the coaching staff and Eric McIlquham has taken the time on the pool deck helping out with advice and tips on technique.
“He was very excited to have a team,” said Sharon McIlquham. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Swimming is a very demanding and difficult sport.”
The next meet is Thursday at Cedar Cliff, a rare dual meet. Waynesboro will be celebrating senior night.
All of Waynesboro’s meets have been on the road this season. After Cedar Cliff, Waynesboro will swim against James Buchanan on Jan. 31. That will be followed by meets at Trinity (Feb. 2) and Shippensburg (Feb. 8) to close out the regular season.
The Mid-Penn Championships will be held on Feb. 11 and 12.
“We had a lot of meets last year at Cedar Cliff, Cedar Cliff was gracious, and kind of adopted our team. We had senior night last year; they included us in their senior night.
“I can’t tell you how excited they are to have a team, getting their Pictures Plus cards to get in to events free as an athlete, that pride in being a varsity athlete. I can see it in their faces,” McIlquham said.
“Some have been swimming since they were two or three years old and have been on teams since they were five or six. Some swimmers are brand new to the sport. Most do only swimming, because it’s a year-round sport. They do other activities like dance or band or music, things like that. They are very well-rounded people – good in the classroom, academically driven.”