For the first time in a long time there will be a new face running the Richmond High School swimming and diving teams.
Franklin Central High School graduate Brian Turner will replace Jennifer Ahaus after Ahaus retired last winter.
With the young Turner comes energy and high expectations.
Richmond’s girls team gets a glance at some competition tonight as the Red Devils travel to Delta, then are off two weeks before hosting Mt. Vernon in the Nov. 26 home opener at Tiano Pool.
Turner hasn’t studied a whole lot on tonight’s opponent. Instead, the newcomer has his focus on what the Red Devils can do and how they can improve their own technique.
“I don’t know much about (Delta). We really focus on execution,” Turner said. “We worry about what we do. We do the best that we do to our own ability. Unlike football we don’t have anybody pushing back against us, so we can really focus in on what our kids do. Hopefully, I think it’ll be a really solid outcome.”
Turner uses the term “rebuilding,” when referring to his girls team, which lost 12 seniors to graduation, one fewer than this year’s current total roster of 13.
Seniors Nina McLarnan, Samantha Decker and Rikki Shade return.
Also returning are junior diver Mariam Khamis — who already has two trips to state, including a sixth-place finish last year — and Julia Keene, who was a key contributor to various relays.
At last year’s sectional, McLarnan placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and seventh in the 200, while Keene was fifth in the breaststroke.
“The rest of them, we are really kind of rebuilding with, but that’s OK,” Turner said. “We knew that coming in to this that the girls were going to be a complete rebuild. We have such excellent leadership that it’ll be quicker than we planned on.”
Other juniors looking to contribute are Hannah Collier, Madison Kuhner and Maddie Tanner, along with sophomores Elizabeth Bailey, Morgan Lindner, Lexi McPherson and Samantha Wilson. Freshmen Sammy Hays and Lily Vincent are also out for the team, and Turner said both bring previous experience.
Richmond’s girls won the North Central Conference title last year, their seventh in nine years under Ahaus, edging second place Muncie Central 456-432. They also won four sectionals under her, the latest coming in 2008.
“The girls have been hitting it really hard the last couple weeks. They really are as prepared as they could be, I feel like, for that first meet against Delta (tonight),” Turner said.
On the boys side, the Red Devils return much more and Turner said they could be strong if they continue to work hard.
Matt Holt returns after placing second in the 500 at last year’s sectional, as well as fourth in the 200. Junior John Holthouse was fifth in the breaststroke, and senior Sam Rutledge was seventh in the 200, eighth in the backstroke.
Other seniors looking to contribute are Trenton Chavis, Ross Harrington, Elijah Kirkman, Jordan Miller, Quinn Smith and Dustin Swonder.
Junior Jeremiah Waltz advanced to the diving regional last year and was 18th there.
Juniors Chase Philman and Geno Pieroni also look to contribute, as do sophomores Shannon Boyd, Ben Grayson, Chase Linville, Preston Pollock and freshmen Noah Johnson and Parker Norton.
“Our boys have a chance to be special, so hopefully we can get things ironed out and get them going,” Turner said.
The last NCC and sectional titles for Richmond’s boys both came in 2010. The Red Devils were third at last year’s NCC meet, won by Anderson.
Richmond hosts meets this winter against Mt. Vernon (Nov. 26), Kokomo and Huntington North (Dec. 7), Muncie Central (Dec. 17), and Hamilton, Ohio (Jan. 27). They travel to New Castle (Dec. 4), Pendleton Heights (Dec. 5), Connersville (Dec. 10) and Eaton (Jan. 23), while also making trips to invitationals at Noblesville (Dec. 14) and Talawanda (Jan. 4).
Area rival Centerville is listed on the schedule with a date yet to be determined, while the NCC meet is Jan. 11 at Ball State University.
Turner will be assisted by Jack Gray, Gary Rodefeld, George Murphy and Kelsey Perez.
“We’ve really put a focus on practice,” Turner said. “Practice is much more than just a workout. We drill them, we get better at it. We expect perfection in their strokes in their events, and they’ve been working towards perfection. And that’s what we want.
“Carmel hasn’t won championships since 1986 because they’re simply in better shape than everyone else; they’ve won championships because they’re the best swimmers in the state since 1986. And if we want to get to that level, we have to perfect the technical aspect of our sport.”