W&L 2009-10 Men's Swimming Preview

 The Washington and Lee men’s swimming team takes to the pool for the 2009-10 season with a roster loaded with depth and experience, facts that have seventh-year Head Coach Joel Shinofield excited about his team’s potential.

“We have a deep and all-around strong team,” stated Shinofield. “The team this year is well-balanced and will be highly-competitive in all events.”

As usual, the Generals must overcome losses to graduation, having lost All-Americans and tri-captains Paul Crook, Chris Diebold and Brett Tatman.

“With those losses, we will need guys to mature quickly and contribute,” noted Shinofield.

This year’s team will have eight seniors and Shinofield admits that he will lean heavily on their leadership to carry a roster stocked with underclassmen. The class of 2010 boasts two All-America recipients from last year, Brandon Barnds (Mission Hills, Kan./Shawnee) and Nick Talluri (Mount Airy, N.C./Mount Airy), in addition to First-team All-Bluegrass Mountain Conference honorees Dan Austin (Terrace Park, Ohio/Mariemont) and Jonathan Giesen (Hoover, Ala./Paul Laurence Dunbar), and strong competitors Ian Childers (Ona, W.Va./Greater Latrobe), Kevin Corn (Lawrenceville, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), Josh Gonzalez (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) and Winston Stagg (Midlothian, Va./Governor’s School).

“The senior class is deep and balanced,” remarked Shinofield. “They are also good leaders—from top to bottom.”

Juniors Ryan Hanson (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond-Suffolk Academy), Dorsey Terry (Gibbstown, N.J./Salesianum) and Brandon Wilder (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) will continue to add depth and leadership to the squad. Wilder will continue to add depth in fly and middle-distance freestyle.

After finding success during their rookie campaigns, this years’ sophomore class will look to continue their development as well.

“The sophomore class is the competitive cement of the team,” stated Shinofield. “They are a group of big and strong competitors.”

The sophomore class is led by Chris Washnock (Greer, S.C./Greenville), who was recognized as the W&L Outstanding First-Year Male Athlete in addition to breaking three school records (200 back, 400 IM and 400 medley relay), competing at the NCAA Division III championships and receiving First-team All-Bluegrass Mountain Conference and All-America honors.

Washnock is joined by classmates Frank Cullo (Sewickley, Pa./Central Catholic), Robert Grattan (Richmond, Va./Trinity Episcopal), Ryan Hartman (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) and Brian Stirling (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery).

Cullo had a strong first-year campaign, establishing a school record in the 1650 free while also being named to the First-Team All-Bluegrass Mountain Conference squad. Grattan, Hartman and Brian Stirling also received First-Team All-Bluegrass Mountain Conference honors while recording NCAA “B” cut times in their respective events.

The sophomore class is rounded out by Ben Absher (Knoxville, Tenn./Christian Academy), Ian Dexter (Mountain Brook, Ala./Mountain Brook), Brad Harder (Redding, Conn./Joel Barlow), Kevin McErlean (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional), Cam Smith (Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth) and Jeff Stirling (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery), who all recorded strong performances as first-year swimmers.

Seven first-year swimmers round out Shinofield’s roster and, even though it is smaller than recent rookie classes, he believes they will be a strong addition to the team.

“We have brought in a smaller number of swimmers this year,” stated Shinofield. “But they are a talented group, which includes three state runner-up champions.”

Wayde Marsh (Milford, Del./Salesainum School), Tyler Gehrs (Alexandria, Va./St. Andrew’s) and Rick Sykes (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) each finished tops in the Delaware and Massachusetts state tournaments, respectfully, and will look to contribute immediately. They will be joined by Patrick D’Ignazio (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven), Will Ericson (Richmond, Va./Trinity Episcopal), , Jared Hester (Laurel, Md./Laurel) and Alex LaFleur (Natick, Mass./Xaverian Brothers), who all posted strong performances during their high school careers.

And with the depth and balance on his roster, Shinofield believes his team is ready to make their mark in the pool.

“We compete in one of the fastest non-Division I conferences [Bluegrass Mountain] in the country,” stated Shinofield. “And with the addition of Johns Hopkins, it’s going to add another layer of competition to the conference.”

“We are excited for the season, especially the end-of-the-season competition in our conference,” he added.

The team will take to the pool for the first time on Friday at Mary Washington and return home Saturday to face Centre.