By GAVIN LAPAILLE
Gold Standard Sports Editor
If Fort Knox High School head coach Jonas Sosa has his way, the Eagles swimming program will be having a lot of fun this year. Entering his third season, Sosa has more returning experience than ever and is expecting this team to be the best he’s coached at Fort Knox.
“I’m really excited about what we can do because you have the kids who have been swimming year-around,” Sosa said. “You have kids coming in where they were. It’s going to make our year very fun because they’re going to see success.”
Upon his arrival, Sosa started a club team for the high school that keeps his kids competing during the swimming off-season. The extra time in the pool has paid off, as Sosa has sent relay teams to the state meet each of the previous two years.
This year, the team would like to add more onto that total. With a mixture of familiar and new faces, the Eagles will bring a level of experience not common to the program, especially on the girl’s side. Of the 12 girls who swam last season, 10 have returned for another season.
“Our retention from last year to this year is great,” Sosa said. “I’m very excited about that, especially with the additions we have.”
The returning swimmers have already proven to be a great asset in a pair of scrimmage events the Eagles competed in during the pre-season, helping the additions make it to their events and keep them calm prior to races.
“We’ve made our fair share of mistakes and we try to pass that on to everyone else,” junior Emily Kiphuth said. “It’s the ritual, you have to mess up and then you’re fine.”
The boy’s side doesn’t currently have the same numbers and depth as the girls—something Sosa and the guys who are out would like to see change. Both agreed having more bodies would benefit everyone.
Sophomore Cameron Pellegrino said swimming is a great sport and helps keep him in shape during the football off-season.
“The guys are obviously in a rebuilding stage because there’s only five of us out there and we’re all pretty much new,” Pellegrino said. “It’s kind of hard because we’re not sure how exactly it works yet. Hopefully we’ll get more guys out here and we’ll get there.”
In the mean time, the Eagles will focus on the beginning of their regular season, with their eyes on the regional meet in February. Fort Knox will swim in the Fern Creek Invitational at the Ralph Wright Natatorium on the campus of the University of Louisville Saturday to officially begin their year, and will also compete in meets hosted by Sacred Heart and Trinity. The team will host the Patton Invitational at the Gammon Fitness Center on Dec. 14, with defending-state champion Sacred Heart scheduled to appear.
While the Eagles compete in Region Three, Sosa likes taking the team to Region Two meets in Louisville as they generally feature many of the state’s top teams. Sosa came to Fort Knox after spending time as an assistant at Region Two powers St. Xavier and Mercy, and was part of staffs that won two state titles. Seeing stiff competition all year will help the swimmers as they prepare for regions.
“Once we see the fastest teams in the state, everyone else seems easy,” Sosa said. “They have no fear.”
The team is anxious to see where their hard work puts them at the end of the season.
“I’m really excited to see this year’s results at the end of the year,” junior Monica Smith said. “I think we have a chance to do something special.”
Nov. 23: Fern Creek Invitational @ University of Louisville
Dec. 7: Sacred Heart Academy Dare to Care Invitational @ University of Louisville
Dec. 14: Patton Invitational @ Gammon Fitness Center
Dec. 21: North Oldham High School @ Gammon Fitness Center
Jan. 3: South Oldham High School @ University of Louisville
Jan. 11: Collegiate Distance TRI Meet @ Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center
Jan. 18: Trinity Rock the Block Invitational @ Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center
Jan. 25: Last Chance Invite @ Gammon Fitness Center
Jan. 31: Senior Night @ Gammon Fitness Center
Feb. 7-8: Region Three Meet
Feb. 20-22: KHSAA State Meet @ University of Louisville