• Val T.

Rochester swimming preview:

Returning sectional finalist Seuferer, top diver Kelly highlights Zebra boys lineup


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Boys

Rochester swimming coach Stephanie Brown oversees a team that consists of 10 girls and 15 boys.

They are known for their work ethic.

Perhaps no one personifies the work ethic more than sophomore Jake Seuferer. He was fifth in the 200 freestyle and second in the 500 freestyle at last year’s Warsaw sectional.

While it might be a considerable adjustment for a freshman to adapt to the rigors of a distance swimmer’s workload, Seuferer more than met those demands, according to Brown.

“He thrives on it,” Brown said. “He looks for it. He wants the distance sets. He swam club in September and October, and he just looks really strong right now. He looks really good in the pool. … He’s one of those where anything I give him, he will work as hard as he can to do what I ask him to do, and he doesn’t complain. He just does it.”

The Zebra boys team consists of four seniors, three juniors, six sophomores and and two freshmen.

The seniors are Peyton Hiatt, Dylan Steininger, Bradly Bickle and Kadin Kelly. Hiatt and Steininger are swimmers while Bickle and Kelly are divers. Kelly will seek to qualify for diving regional for the fourth straight year this year. He broke Scott Secrest’s 17-year-old school record for points in a six-dive program last season.

Hiatt and Steininger also run on Rochester boys cross-country and boys track teams, both of which are the reigning Three Rivers Conference champions. From novice origins, Hiatt’s emergence as team leader might also personify the Rochester work ethic.

“Peyton is a leader,” Brown said. “He has improved so much since he started his sophomore year. When he started, he didn’t even put his head in the water until Christmas break. And just from there to where he is now, he’s swimming in the middle of the pool. He’s a leader on the team. He works hard. He can do just about anything I put him in. … He just has really come a long way.”

Jake Freeman, R.J. Keranko and Pablo Lopez are the three juniors. Lopez is a foreign exchange student.

Another key sophomore could be Wes Steininger, who is also Dylan’s younger brother. Both made the consolation finals at the sectional in the 200 individual medley, a sign of proficiency in all four strokes. (Dylan beat Wes by 0.01 seconds in the battle for 10th place.) But they also bring unique skills.

“They’re both versatile, which is what makes them similar,” Brown said. “However, Wes is the better butterflier, and Wes is better at breaststroke. They kind of had a duel going on last year with the IM, and I think in the end, big brother won. Dylan is faster at freestyle, but he’s older and stronger and just bigger, so that comes with that. So I would say he has a faster sprint freestyle time.”

Sophomore Tanner Reese is the most accomplished returning backstroker.

Newcomers include sophomores Jacob Brubaker and Dillon Fishback and freshmen Reece Johnson and Seth Flenar.

Girls

The Rochester girls swimming team has two seniors, seven juniors and freshman newcomer Ava Thomas.

Elena Bode and Madilyn Calloway are the seniors, and they both have experience in the sprint freestyle events. However, it might not be fair to call them sprint freestyle specialists.

Bode also has swum a 2:33 in the 200 individual medley, and Calloway has also swam distance freestyle events and the backstroke. She has already improved her butterfly time as she rehabbed from a stress fracture in her foot from over the summer, according to Brown.

“Her strongest event, I would say, is the breaststroke, but she also has a fast freestyle,” Brown said of Bode. “I would say right now she has the fastest 50 and 100 freestyle, but she also has a pretty solid IM time.”

The juniors include Kendyll Bradley, Lola Brady, Melody Hisey, Araceli Ochoa, Bella Riffle, Molly Vance-Gruss and foreign exchange student Greta Barbieri.

Riffle, Bradley and Hisey are the most accomplished of the junior group. Riffle was a sectional finalist in the 100 butterfly last year and is also capable in the 100 backstroke, where she reached the consolation finals.

Bradley and Hisey have had their most previous success in the sprint freestyle events.

“They’re all strong leaders (with) strong personalities,” Brown said. “Bella’s our happy girl that just has fun. She works hard. She really surprised us last year with how hard she went and earned a spot on the sectional relay. … She’s a lot of fun. She’s just happy and encouraging to the other girls. She’s got some experience. She swam Royals for quite a few years before she was on the high school team.”

Makenna Beall, a state qualifier in both 2019 and 2020, will not swim at the scholastic level this year. She has verbally committed to continue her swimming and academic careers at Indiana Wesleyan.

“Things are going really well,” Brown said. “The girls team this year is a little bit smaller than the last couple years. … We said small but mighty. We’ve been having fun. The kids have been working hard.”

Diving

Rochester has not scored a point at the sectional from a girls diver since 2017, when Elaina Dishon and Megan Thomas both did it.

Thomas and Bradley are both diving competitively for the first time this year and could possibly mix in diving with an individual swimming event and up to two relays.

Kelly and Bickle form the boys diving crew. Braxton Jimenez, who was fifth at last year’s sectional, graduated.

Coaches

Matt Steininger and Erica Abbott will be assistant coaches on Brown’s staff. Steininger replaces Kevin Renie, who is now the Rochester athletic director.

Lindsay Barts, Brynn Wilson (nee Durkes) and Karmin Reeves will work with the divers.

Rochester swimming schedule

Nov. 16 – at Plymouth, 5:30 p.m. (girls only)

Nov. 23 – at Goshen PentaDuals, 5 p.m.

Nov. 30 – vs. Lewis Cass, 6 p.m.

Dec. 4 – at Warsaw Invitational, 10 a.m.

Dec. 4 – at Western Diving Invitational, 10 a.m.

Dec. 7 – vs. Wabash, 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 9 – at Manchester, 5 p.m.

Dec. 13 – vs. Culver Academy, 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 18 – at Kokomo (with Logansport), 10 a.m.

Jan. 6 – at Maconaquah, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 11 – at Tippecanoe Valley, 5 p.m.

Jan. 13 – at Eastern (Greentown), 6 p.m.

Jan. 18 – vs. Bremen, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 – at TRC meet, 9 a.m. (at Maconaquah)

Feb. 1 – vs. Plymouth, 5:30 p.m. (boys only)

Feb. 3 – at Warsaw sectional preliminaries, 5:30 p.m. (girls only)

Feb. 5 – at Warsaw sectional finals, 1 p.m. (girls only)

Feb. 8 – Valparaiso girls diving regional, TBD

Feb. 11-12 – IHSAA girls state finals at Indiana University Natatorium, Indianapolis

Feb. 17 – at Warsaw sectional preliminaries, 5:30 p.m. (boys only)

Feb. 19 – at Warsaw sectional finals, 1 p.m. (boys only)

Feb. 22 – Valparaiso boys diving regional, TBD

Feb. 25-26 – IHSAA state finals at Indiana University Natatorium, Indianapolis



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