Newark Charter’s boys swim team is exactly halfway through its season with six meets completed and six to go.
The team’s first victory came Dec. 9 in the opening meet of the regular season when the Patriots swam to a 90-80 victory over Delaware Military Academy. The win avenged a loss and tie against DMA the past two seasons, and while some coaches wouldn’t put much stock in a first-meet victory, head coach Maddy Pruitt did.
“Our first meet of the year against DMA really set the precedent,” the second-year coach explained. “The boys knew it was going to be a tough meet and it was. It was a close meet against a great team and it came down to pretty much the last event.”
The final event was the 400-freestyle relay, and the foursome of Goodwin Cobb, Cole Zippe, Sritan Pittala and Ben Doughty touched the wall first in a time of 3:45.78 for the win.
“They sealed the deal,” Pruitt proudly said. “The boys wanted to show everyone what they’re capable of under pressure, and they did. This season has been very exciting for our boys swim team so far.”
It’s a team made up primarily of underclassmen. Cobb is the lone senior, and a busy one. He also wrestles for Newark Charter, which means he is participating in two sports during the longest of the three interscholastic seasons.
“Goodwin brings positive energy to all practices and meets he comes to,” Pruitt said. “He is also on the wrestling team, which shows his work ethic. Competing on two of the hardest high school sports at once is a lot. I have been coaching Goodwin for years, not only at NCS, but also in the summer on the Delaware Bluefish. He is a dedicated athlete and is a key component to this team.”
While Cobb and Doughty, a junior, are experienced high school swimmers, Zippe is just a sophomore and Pittala an eighth-grader. They, along with eighth-grader Jack Baur and freshman Luke Ennis, have been welcome additions to the team.
“They are greatly contributing to our team,” Pruitt said of the newcomers.
Pruitt was also quick to credit returning freshman Connor Barnes and sophomores Logan Blackburn and Rory Ostheimer, who were on the roster last year.
“They have improved tremendously,” she pointed out.
While Newark Charter’s roster size has remained steady since the program began, this season’s 15 swimmers is more than they’ve had the previous two seasons. It’s made up of three eighth-graders, five freshmen and sophomores, one junior and Cobb is the lone senior.
“The winter season is full of great sports like winter track and basketball, which makes it hard to consistently pick up more swimmers,” Pruitt explained. “In recent years, the underclassmen have done a really nice job talking to friends and encouraging them to try swimming, which is the reason for more underclassmen at this point. I am so excited to see the team grow more each year because we have hard-working kids. With more numbers, this team has so much potential.”
Five swimmers have already qualified for states with six meets remaining. Pittala (100 butterfly, 200 and 500 free, 200 individual medley), Zippe (50 and 100 free), Bonis (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly), Blackburn (50 and 100 free, 100 backstroke) and Doughty (50, 100 and 200 free, 100 butterfly and breast, 200 individual medley) have already secured spots in the state preliminary meet on Feb. 26 at the Carpenter Center in Newark. Yet despite the success in the first half of the long winter season, Pruitt knows there is still work yet to be done.
“The key for success in the second half of the season is to keep doing what we are doing and getting all the fifth-place points we can in those close meets,” she said. “Our boys have been working hard so far and we’re only going to work harder during this last half of the season.”