In the past the Ashland swim team has performed admirably in the pool, but this year the Clocker swimmers took it to the next level as the boys finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and the girls went 8-2.
“The girl’s team was much smaller than the boys, but they were really able to round out each event in the co-ed meets. They’re a great group that works really well together,” Ashland Coach Anne Meisner said. “The boys are very versatile and many swimmers can do many different events giving us three good relay events when the team was usually one short.”
Two individuals that had a big impact on the team were sophomores Jack Emberley (basically any event, but 200 and 500 freestyle are his fortes) and Phillip Nikolov (200 IM and 100 fly). According to the Coach, the duo had a huge impact for the team right from day one. In addition to the two sophomores, freshmen Alex Gu (younger brother of Roger who is now swimming on the college level) and Peter Lukashev also gave the squad a much needed boost. Gu swam the 50 and 100 free in addition to the 100 backstroke, while Lukashev consistently finished second or third in the fly, but he also filled a much needed vacancy.
“Having our top diver’s graduate, it left us with no young divers on the team,” the Coach said. “Peter was willing to try diving and he basically went from knowing absolutely nothing to helping us out only two months later. Most Tri-Valley teams have a full roster of divers. He gave us a chance. We also had returning diver sophomore Emma Landry and a newcomer in freshman Shelly Neerman for the girls.”
Other standouts for the boys were sophomore Alex Pecze (200 and 500 free, 200 IM and 100 backstroke), junior Vanya Lukashev (50 and 100 free) and sophomore Sam Govan (50 and 100 free and 100 backstroke).
Leading the smaller girls’ team was junior Michelle Grasberger, who took part in the 50 and 100 free as well as the 100 backstroke. Other girls helping their cause were junior Beverly Brion (200 IM, 200 and 500 free), seniors Anastasi Galperina (100 fly and 200 IM) and Katie Landry (50 and 100 free).
With a smaller squad the Ashland girls were forced to try other events for the benefit of the team.
“The girls were spread out and taking part in events that they were not accustomed to,” Meisner said. “You do what is needed for the team and each and every one of them was willing to do anything for the greater of the team.”
Heading into the South Sectionals Ashland was looking to participate as a team and then as individuals; the Clockers were able to accomplish both. The girls finished 11th overall despite only having 3 relays and 5 individual events, while the boys grabbed a 3rd place finish.
“You don’t really think about the post-season until it’s upon us. We realized that we could do well and that says a lot about a smaller sized school,” the Coach said. “With the boys finishing third, it was the highest finish in school history. The previous best was seventh place.”
Clocker Captains were Johnny Pecze (200 and 500 free), Ben Thorner (200 and 500 free), Galperina and Landry.
200 Medley Relay (Grasberger, Brion, Galpernia and Landry) 6th place – 1:56.60
200 Free Relay (Grasberger, Landry, Galperina and Brion) 5th place – 1:44.42
400 Free Relay (Landry, Emily Pepper, Galpernia and Brion) – 13th place–3:55.56
100 backstroke (Grasberger) – 7th place - 1:00.94
50 free (Grasberger) 4th place – 24.79
(Landry) 9th place – 25:38
Medley Relay (Govan, Emnberley, Nikolov and Gu) 11th place – 1:45.92 * School Record
200 Free Relay (V. Lukashev, Govan, J. Pecze and Gu) 6th place – 1:33.23
400 Free Relay (Govan, Pecze, V. Lukashev and A. Pecze) 3rd place– 3:22.08
200 free (A. Pecze) 6th place – 1:48.99
Emberley) 9th place – 1:51.76
(J. Pecze) 10th place – 1:52.22
200 IM (Nikolov) 6th place – 2:04.36 * School Record
50 free (V. Lukashev) 11th place – 22.97
100 fly (Nikolov) 11th place – 55.53
500 free (J.Pecze) 7th place – 5:00.30 * School Record
(Emberley) 9th – 5:00.63
100 back (A. Pecze) 4th – 54.46 * School Record