Coaching boys swimming at Cooperstown has been a good job for Cheryl Rock, and she said she expects at least one more good year this season.
“It is our last year with the Mebust brothers,” she said. “That is a big story. It has been at least nine years we have had a Mebust swimming for us. They have meant so much to the program.”
Senior Ted Mebust, the youngest of the brothers, who was part of the first group of Cooperstown male swimmers to make the state meet four seasons ago is now working for his fourth trip to states. And although it is early in the season, Mebust’s times are already close to qualifying, Rock said.
Last season, Mebust placed 13th in the state among smaller schools in the 100 backstroke and 23rd in the 100 freestyle. By his own count, Mebust has won 12 individual Section Three swimming titles, including in 2017 in the 100 back and 100 free. His best finish at states so far was in his freshman year, 2015, when he, brother Sean, Ian Robinson and Michael Kern placed sixth in the 200 freestyle relay.
Sean is entering his sophomore season at Amherst, having made the NCAA Tournament in his freshman season. Oldest brother Erik swam at the State University College at Geneso, and graduated from college in 2017.
However, after making the state meet with relay teams in 2015 and 2016, Ted went alone in 2017. Rock said that could change this season as he could again brings teammates with him.
“The whole team is looking good,” she said. “It isn’t just Ted. Everyone seems to be posting their best times, even though it is early in the season. And almost everyone is dropping times already, too.”
Cooperstown had only nine swimmers last year, as the construction at The Clark Sports Center left the team with no home pool. The Hawkeyes practiced in New Berlin, had all their meets on the road, and many swimmers decided to only do club swimming as a result.
With the pool complete at The Clark, the numbers have rebounded this season, Rock said.
Cooperstown has 19 swimmers this season, including one, freshman Maddox Aramini, from Cherry Valley-Springfield. Aramini, who has been swimming the 200 medley and the 100 butterfly, swam Otsego Lake last summer for charity, and is one of the reasons Rock said she is excited about the program even in the post-Mebust era.
“He can swim anything,” Rock said.
The new pool is another reason for excitement, she said.
“It is great,” she said. “We are getting more pool time, and we are getting to do more things in practice. We can actually work on blocks. We have never been able to do that.”
Junior Max Hinrichs (long distances), junior Ewan Chapman (freestyle events) and Gareth Austin (breaststroke, IMs) have also been winning events early this season.
Rock said she is also excited to have several good divers this season, with senior Griffin LeBoffe and junior Sam Bonderoff leading the team in scoring so far. They replace Josh Briggs, who is diving for Alfred State this season.
Relays will also be a team strength for Cooperstown, Rock said, although she is still working out the best combinations.
“Time will tell,” she said, but, “the (100) freestyle is doing well. The medley team is doing well.”
Cooperstown’s only dual meet loss so far came in a Center State Conference meet against Rome Free Academy early in the season, but as is traditional with the swim teams, the main focus is to drop times, beat personal records and prepare for the post-season meets.
“We’ll start honing things in mid-January, so we can be ready for the end of the season,” she said.
“This season is going to be exciting,” Rock said.