KINGSTON, N.Y. >> A young, but experienced and talented core of 14 returning athletes has Kingston High’s girls swimming and diving team primed for this year and the foreseeable future.
“We’re young. Most of our athletes are tenth grade and younger, but they also have some considerable swimming experience on the varsity level and also on the club level,” noted Chris Sammons, who begins his 18th year as Tigers head coach.
“It’s going to be exciting this year and the next three to four years after this, just to see where they go, where they develop,” he said.
PHOTOS: Kingston swim practice
Kingston opens its season Thursday, Sept. 6, at home against Roosevelt.
The Tigers were 5-5 in 2017, the closest the team has come to a losing season in more than a decade. That campaign was a springboard for this young unit that features just three seniors and 26 underclassmen (six juniors, four sophomores, seven freshmen, seven eighth-graders and a pair of seventh-graders).
“I say it every year, ‘Our future’s bright,’ and it always is, because we keep churning out good athletes,” Sammons remarked.
“Even in a lean year, so to speak, we’re still looking at state qualifiers. We’ve always looking at making noise and the teams in Section 9 understand that about us. We’re not a team to be overlooked.”
Four captains — seniors Sabrina Browning and Abby Mitchell, junior Alexa Peck and sophomore Ali Mitchell — are a big part of the core group. Abby Mitchell is strongest in the breaststroke, while Browning is a diver, Peck does sprint and distance freestyles plus butterfly, and Ali Mitchell excels at every event.
“We have a very strong core of 14 girls out of our 29,” Sammons said.
Also part of that core are juniors Isabella Amaro (backstroke, individual medley, freestyle sprint), Emily Hakim (diving) and Mackenzie Quinn (freestyle sprint, backstroke); sophomore Jeanine Ohene-Agyei (freestyle sprint, breaststroke); freshmen Parker Ball (200-yard free, fly, backstroke), Emily McCord (freestyle, fly), Eleanora Meyer (everything) and Angelina Vertullo (everything); eighth-grader Caroline Steeves (freestyle, backstroke); and seventh-grader Mallory Sullivan (freestyle).
“One of the rookies this year is Mallory Sullivan, who is going to be a big contributor this year in the 200- and 500- (free) primarily. I could probably move her into almost any event,” Sammons noted. “Caroline Steeves, up-and-coming last year, can do 200 and 500 freestyle, backstroke and she’s also thrown some butterfly into the mix now this year. It’s going to be pretty fun to watch her develop.
“The girls outside of that core veteran group want a spot in that core and it’s good, because they’re all supportive and they all understand that if you work together and be stronger, the better off the team is,” Sammons said.
Also on the team are senior Erica Naccarato; juniors Mary Baker and Abigail Olenski; sophomores Isabella Harrell and Sarah Lekaj; freshmen Vivienne Airhart, Emily Constance and Carly Ford; eighth-graders Kalie Boye, Gillian Cornelison, Hayle Cuff, Ella Gallo, Sierra Ramirez and Evelyn Shannon; plus seventh-grader Christina Lettre.
“The idea is we can move people around and that is what’s made us successful,” Sammons said.
Shadowing Kingston are two Rondout Valley athletes: sophomore Alexandra Kassian and seventh-grader Abigail Chrorzempa.
Kingston was ninth in last year’s Section 9 meet, but Sammons likens this season to the 2012 team led by Olivia Reinhardt that was third in the section.
“When Olivia Reinhardt was a senior we started to pop a little bit more. We were always in that top tier, but that was a statement year for us and then we kind of continued and continued and continued and kept it rolling,” Sammons said. “That’s the leadership that the older girls have and it’s also a testament to the veterans teaching. It’s not just about the leader in the moment. It’s teaching the younger kids how to act and what we’re about and about tradition.”
Kingston was 2-5 and in fifth place in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division 1 last year. The division includes Newburgh, Monroe-Woodbury, Pine Bush, Valley Central, Washingtonville, Middletown and Warwick.
“We have a tough division. We have ten meets,” Sammons said. “Everything aligning right, we could do very well.
“We always want a winning record, if not a sectional championship or a run for that undefeated season, which has eluded us thus far,” he added. “This is going to be a special team, the start of a special run for the next three or four years if the athletes can do what they’re capable of doing.”
SEPT. — 6, ROOSEVELT; 8, in Hudson Valley Kickoff Classic at Newburgh; 12, WASHINGTONVILLE; 14, MIDDLETOWN; 17, GOSHEN; 20, at Newburgh; 24, at Warwick; 26, MONROE-WOODBURY
OCT. — 2, RHINEBECK; 4, PINE BUSH; 9, BURKE CATHOLIC; 11, at Valley Central
Home meets in CAPS. All dual meets start at 4:30 p.m.