As we said last March, something special is brewing inside the Saint Ignatius swimming & diving program.
Talent abounds in the program, a good culture exists, and the right people are in place to lead the program with Mike Lehto and his coaching staff.
Yep, the 2019-20 season will be exciting for the Aqua Cats.
Part of the reason why the season has so much promise is the roster. The Wildcats have a wealth of seniors this season. A total of 11 seniors return to anchor the squad. And not only are these seniors talented, they are excellent young men and leaders.
Cormac Nolan personifies this amazing crop of seniors. As his teachers and coaches will tell you, the Lakewood native is simply a great person. That's why his coaches bestowed him with #34 Jim Skerl Award, in honor of the late, great Jim Skerl '74. Nolan's servant leadership will be on display this season.
John Soeder is another great leader. The Mentor man showcased his talents at the State Meet last season, taking part in the 200 free and 400 free relays with the Wildcats. Look for Soeder to also make appearances in other events, such as the 50 free.
Noah Keim will be important in diving this year. The senior will be paired with Will Claus in the diving events last year. Claus worked his way to the State Meet last winter and will look to do so in style again. His talent is off the charts. Keim is another hard worker who will key to the team's efforts this year, as Keim will look to help Claus rack up the points.
Cameron Marcie displayed his talents in the speed events last year, taking part in the 100 fly and 200 free at Districts. He'll be looking to punch a ticket to Canton this year. Brian Johnson is another 100 fly superstar who peaked with a personal record at Districts. He'll be winning the Gold "I" chain more this season.
Kian Carmichael is the latest in a long line of Carmichaels to make an impact on the Northeast Ohio swimming scene. Carmichael will look to make his mark in the 50 free and in other spots, as he worked hard in the offseason to shave off time. Daemyen Haywood is another talented Cat, as he rolled to fourth at Districts in the 100 free. He'll assume a big role this year.
Several other seniors will rise to the fore this year. Robert Gavigan, Jack Johannessen, Luke Slabe, and John Zaky are all great young men who will become household names to Wildcats fans this season. Their names will dot the result sheets and recaps this season.
Don't allow the senior talent to take away from the great underclassmen on the roster.
Besides Claus in the diving, Tyler Hong and Joe Richmond will be two of the anchors in several swimming events. Hong and Richmond have been hard at work, making several trips to Colorado to train at the US Olympic Training Center this past week. It's hard to describe the level of their talents. The ceilings of these two young men are unreal.
Speaking of unreal, the development of other members of the junior class is incredible. We wrote about Kartar Vig last year, but he's far from the only success story. Michael Bednar, Thomas Metz, Zach Toothman, Will Van de Walle, Will Trenta, Damon Durrah Jr., and Brice Cerare have all become key contributors. Each may be the lead star on any other team in Northeast Ohio. But with all of this talent at the junior class, the Wildcats' cupboard is far from bare for next year. And even with all of the nice results they produced last year as sophomores, including some berths to the State Meet, expect them all to make a huge leap this year.
Look for a few sophomores to also make a big leap this year. Micah Murtha starred as a freshman, and several others dotted the JV leaderboards. Don't let the talent above them overshadow – this class will be quite good, too. A few unheralded swimmers will rise to the top.
Eight freshmen also made the roster, setting the final number at 41 swimmers and divers. That's a good number, which demonstrates the strength and depth of the Saint Ignatius swimming and diving team.
The season begins for the Wildcats on Saturday, with the Solon Relays. While the Cats start the season on the road, plenty of home meets dot the schedule. Seven meets will be at Cleveland State University this year, offering plenty of chances to go support the Aqua Cats.