Frontier League swim meets are usually filled with raucous crowds that are cheering their respective competitors.
However, this year’s format will be vastly different as the league will have a completely virtual format. There will be no head-to-head meets at this time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The virtual format will limit the chances of student-athletes coming in contact with each other.
“It’s the safest way to do everything,” Indian River coach Alan Baker said. “We have to consider all of the other factors.”
The Frontier League slate kicks off with Gouverneur taking on Lowville on Wednesday night. The Wildcats will technically be the host school, but both schools will be swimming in their respective pools on their campus.
Lowville sophomore Colin Kempney said it will feel odd not seeing any spectators.
“You look over and they (the fans) are so crazy and it’s going to feel different that they aren’t there,” he said.
Virtual meets will be run just like any other with officials and timers. Coaches will then send their scores to each other and the top times will be added together to determine a winner. The meets may not have the same competitive energy as head-to-head meets, but coaches and swimmers will take what they can get.
“Even though it’s not the norm, it’s competition,” Lowville head coach Eric Virkler said.
Teams also won’t get to compete in the Frontier League or Section 3 meets due to those competitions being canceled. Those events serve as a chance to improve on individual times and compete at a high level.
Kempney said he will miss having the opportunity to swim at both of those meets and bettering his times.
“You want to improve and that’s what you look to do in every sport,” he said. “Every time you go out there, you look to get that better time.”
Although the high-risk sports were authorized to start next Monday pending each county’s board of health, Virkler doesn’t anticipate the league having any head-to-head meets. However, he and the other coaches have good chemistry and will roll with any changes.
“Our coaches work well together and everyone seems pretty flexible,” Virkler said.
Teams in the Frontier League are also limiting their schedules to schools only in the league. Frequent non-league opponents such as Adirondack, Mexico, New Hartford and Rome Free Academy will not be on the slate this season.
The league schedule was slated to kick off today, but Indian River and Watertown went to remote learning over the past couple of weeks. Watertown head coach Tom Graban anticipated some teams would be halted as his squad only got two practices before shifting to virtual learning.
“You just hope everyone gets to stay healthy and keep our fingers crossed,” Graban said.
The league schedule was originally condensed to meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next three weeks before the start of winter break, set for mid-February. However, the league has pushed the schedule out to March as its final date. Schools are glad that they’ll be competing and Kempney is looking forward to Wednesday.
“With the way this last year has been, having anything is great,” Kempney said.
Outlook: Watertown and South Jefferson were the top teams, but the Spartans managed to knock the Cyclones off for the first time in a league meet in 11 years. The Spartans followed it up with their first league meet title. Watertown graduated state competitors Nate Carlos, Simon Stratton and Andrew Victoria. However, Xander Gaige is one of the standout returnees. South Jeff returns top swimmers like Garrett Fuller and Jaymeson St. Croix among others. Carthage will have Mark Phillips as the team’s new coach. Jason Badalato will be one to watch in the butterfly and freestyle. Indian River graduated standout Kaden McConnell, but has returnees like Calvin Eggleston and some new faces trying the sport.
Coach: Mark Phillips
2019-20 record: 3-9 overall, 3-8 league
Roster: Jason Badalato (Sr.), Dylan Christman (Sr.), Jacob Lavengood (Sr.), Hunter Berg (Jr.), Connor Covey (Jr.), Gavin Lajoie (Jr.), Eric Waterhouse (Jr.), Brett Wormwood (Jr.), Camden Laursen Carr (So.), Jackson Lavengood (So.), Leighton McNatt (So.), Alex Reinsburrow (So.), Zane Busch (Fr.), Preston Love (Fr.), Ethan Marilley (Fr.), Gunnar McKinnon (Fr.), Gaven Montressor (Fr.), Zeb Stevens (Fr.)
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Alan Baker
2019-20 record: 3-6, 2-5
Roster: Tyrone Allen (Sr.), Chase Carson (Sr.), Joseph Petrus (Sr.), Cooper Sweeney (Sr.), Mason VanTassel (Sr.), Reagan Alexander (Jr.), Troy Allen (Jr.), Kaeden Chartrand (So.), Calvin Eggleston (So.), Samuel Hayes (So.), Joshua Heffner (So.) Aiden Jones (So.), Bryson Meeks (So.), Riley Alexander (Fr.), Dylan Bartlett (Fr.), Michael Gately (Fr.), LincolnStanley (Fr.),
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Paul Gaede
2019-20 record: 9-1, 8-1
Roster: Garrett Fuller (Sr.), Ryley Jones (Sr.), Blake Passino (Sr.), Colby Randall (Sr.), Jonathan Smith (Sr.), Gavin Stone (Sr.), Jaymeson St. Croix (Sr.), Noah Tyler (Sr.), Timothy Williams (Sr.), Nate Hulbert (Jr.), Thomas King (Jr.), John Largett (Jr.), Ethan Smith (Jr.), Noah Abbott (So.), Nate Bliss (So.), Austin Elliott (So.), William Lawrence (So.), Joshua Matteson (So.), Logan Passino (So.), Ryan Rogers (So.), Blake Foote (Fr.), James King (Fr.), Spencer Purvis (Fr.), Carter Stone (Fr.), Triston Taylor (Fr.), Neil Tyler (Fr.).
Coach: Tom Graban
2019-20 record: 9-1, 8-1
Roster returnees: Clayton Day (Sr.), David Gaus (Sr.), Connor O’Donnell (Sr.), Connor Hall (Jr.), MJ Dickinson (So.), Xander Gaige (So.), Ethan Grimm (So.), Luciano Guarino (So.), Ethan Kilburn (So.). Ike Tan (So.).
Outlook: A familiar face takes over coaching the boys as Anne Davis will guide Beaver River, taking over for Alex Barrett. Davis has led the girls program for more than 30 years. Kathy Richey also take over at Gouverneur and returns state swimmer Anthony DeJesus. Lowville will have a younger roster with the graduation of Solomon Rosner, but there are talented sophomores like Colin Kempney on the team.
Beaver River Beavers
Coach: Anne Davis
2019-20 record: 8-7, 6-5
Roster: Cory Demo (Sr.), Nathan Goldthrite (Sr.), Macaiah Landis (Sr.), Eli Watkins (Sr.), Nevin Barker (Jr.), Isaac Boliver (Jr.), Jacob Steiner (Jr.), Ethan Moore (So.), Braeden Terillion (So.), Jedidiah Zehr (So.), Owen Beller (Fr.)
Coach: Kathy Richey
2019-20 record: 1-9, 0-9
Roster: Anthony DeJesus (Sr.), Jordan Hayden (Jr.), Carter Todd (Jr.), James Hayden (So.), Ashton Bowman (Fr.), Drew Gates (Fr.), Gabriel Hance (Fr.), Riley Shepherd (Fr.), Owen Siebels (Fr.),
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Eric Virkler
2019-20 record: 9-7, 7-4
Roster: Jeremiah Krop (Jr.), Gage Colwell (So.), Noah Comet (So.), Anthony Garito (So.), Samuel Gillette (So.), Colin Kempney (So.), Sean Miller (So.), Lane Lovenduski (Fr.), Collin Schrag (Fr.).