BROOKVILLE — A Raiders swimmer himself just five years ago, Jaren Ananea is now calling the shots for Brookville Area High School’s swimming and diving team.
Or maybe blowing the whistle is more appropriate.
The 24-year-old Ananea, a 2013 BAHS grad, takes over the team after serving one year as an assistant under Mike Wonderling. He got the coaching bug while going to school in Kittanning and helping its YMCA program.
Now, working on a Masters degree to be a Physician’s Assistant, Ananea has a bulky 35-athlete roster — 22 girls, 13 boys. That’s a big number for the program, which starts the season Friday at home at the Hickory Grove Elementary School Natatorium.
“I definitely knew I wanted to keep swimming in my life and coaching is the best thing to do that,” Ananea said last week. “I get a kick out of watching them be excited about their times and drops and learning new strokes.”
Megan Shaw, a 2011 BAHS grad and former swimmer as well, along with Ray Doolittle and diving coach Stephanie Cable, are also on the staff.
“States is the ultimate goal for most of the swimmers, but the reality is that it’s a much more individual than team,” Ananea said. “It’s improving on times and those actually mean things to the kids. I’m optimistic. I think both teams have chances at winning multiple meets.”
While the boys have a smaller roster, the quality and experience is high with senior Thad Johnson and junior Donavan Hoffman the top returning placewinners. At districts, Johnson was third in the 100-yard backstroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley while Hoffman was fourth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 200 individual medley.
They’ll be back in those events with Hoffman perhaps seeing time in the 100 butterfly. Johnson could fill in anywhere while both will help anchor the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. Johnson, Hoffman and Saunders are back from the third-place medley relay.
Senior Aaron Briggs, and juniors Luc Doolittle and Blake Saunders turned in top-10 finishes at districts. Doolittle was fifth in the 500 freestyle, Saunders was sixth in the 100 butterfly and Briggs finished eighth in the 100 backstroke.
Briggs (freestyle) and freshman Calvin Doolittle (butterfly) will join Johnson (backstroke) and Hoffman (breaststroke) on the medley relay as well as the 200 freestyle relay. Doolittle gives the team quality in all four strokes.
Senior Ethan Brentham gives the Raiders depth in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke while Briggs looks to be the team’s freestyle sprinter in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Saunders will also swim in the 200 individual medley with Luc Doolittle also going in the 200 freestyle.
Ananea feels his overall depth of quality, despite just 13 swimmers, could score some points.
Freshman Bay Harper will be the boys’ lone diver.
“I expect the boys to be very competitive,” Ananea said. “We have a good chance to be above .500 and the girls, with 22, we have a good chance. Just based on numbers, we were competitive in meets without the numbers we have this year. I’m looking forward to the girls breaking that losing streak.”
The Lady Raiders haven’t won a meet since the 2010-11 season, but they’re obviously deeper in numbers and talent as well. Ananea will have two district-placing divers and Emma Fiscus as his highest returning placers from districts.
Seniors Dani MacBeth and Mattisen Drake were third and fifth respectively in their first trip to districts.
“They’re very good at diving and competitive-minded and can place higher this year if they put in the right work,” Ananea said.
Fiscus was 11th in the 200 individual medley. She’ll be back in the IM and probably the 100 butterfly, but can swim most events. Junior Sydney Barto is back and will see time in the IM, 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.
Ananea hopes to get two veterans back who start the season injured with senior Cheyenne Gotwald and junior Rilee Myers.
The other seniors are Brynn Afton and newcomer Ainsley Wolfe. Afton is the team’s distance specialist in the freestyles with some time in the IM. Wolfe will dive and see time in the pool.
Juniors Dani Maring and Kara Foster are back and both will move around the lineup once again in various races as well as sophomores Taylor Hetrick and Aleah Ames.
A trio of freshmen — Sadie Shofestall, Chloe Smith and Emma Afton — gives the Lady Raiders a strong young core of pool talent.
Ananea has been impressed by freshman diver Courtney Ortz as well and freshman Julia Bailey also brings YMCA swimming experience.
Brookville opens the season at home this evening against Oil City.
Seniors: Thad Johnson, Aaron Briggs, Ethan Brentham, Jacob Sekeres, Kyle Hall, Kaleb Baughman. Juniors: Blake Saunders, Donavan Hoffman, Luc Doolittle. Freshmen: Shawn Foster, Bay Harper, Calvin Doolittle, Dakota Davis.
Seniors: Brynn Afton, Cheyenne Gotwald, Ainsley Wolfe, Mattisen Drake, Dani MacBeth. Juniors: Kara Foster, Rilee Myers, Lakota Dunn, Dani Maring, Sydney Barto. Sophomores: Maddison Payne, Audrey Park, Taylor Hetrick, Aleah Ames, Emma Fiscus, Jenny Smith, Pat Nawawisitkul. Freshmen: Chloe Smith, Emma Afton, Julia Bailey, Sadie Shofestall, Courtney Ortz.