Despite thunderstorms at the beginning of the season, Oak Hall’s varsity swimming and diving teams have competed in quite a few meets, leading to personal records and overall victories. In fact, both teams won meets against Columbia High School and rival St. Francis Catholic.
The meet against Columbia was especially significant because it was the first meet that was not cancelled due to thunderstorms. The Eagles are successful this season thanks to the encouragement from each other and the number of swimmers and divers that joined the team.
The factor that makes the swim teams so special and different is that the athletes are a diverse group of students, as the teams are made up of students in sixth through 12th grade. Although it could be easy for clashing to happen within these age ranges, the teams mesh very well. “I think it’s what makes our team special compared to a lot of those other teams in town where they only have high schoolers,” said Swimming and Diving Coach, Quinn Bohan.
The success of this season doesn’t just come from individual talent, but also teamwork. Although swimming and diving is considered to be an individual sport, the support of teammates help motivate each other. “Encouragement from your teammates really help you push for that new time [and] you want to win for your team, not just for yourself which [encourages you],” said freshman swimmer Stacey Aliyanaya.
As much as encouragement plays into making each other better, practice helps immensely with the hard work they put in. They are especially working hard now that the district and regional meet is around the corner. “We tend to typically have 14 to 15 [athletes] make it to the regional meet,” Bohan said.
Not only do the teams have incredible teamwork and grit, but they also have great leadership through their captains with Katelyn Berthy and Lisa Aliyanaya on the girls team and Tim Aliyanoy and Aneesh Gogieni for the boys team. Overall, the swimming and diving teams gain success from supporting each other, the dedicated leadership, and hard work.
Oak Hall, along with P.K. Yonge and St. Francis are hosting the district meet on Oct. 25 at Northeast Pool. Swimming starts at 9 a.m.
Swimming and Diving Oak Hall’s swimming and diving team took to the pool yesterday for its district meet. Seven boys and 14-16 girls participated at the district competition. The athletes competed against Community Christian, Florida High, Maclay, North Bay Haven, St. Francis, PK Yonge, Rocky Bayou Christian, and Pensacola Catholic. Last season, the girls achieved a third-place finish in the district, while the boys placed fifth.
Having several goals this season, head coach Quinn Bohan’s main goal is not to win a title, but for each athlete to grow and have fun. “The mission of our team is to help our athletes fulfill their athletic goals while here at Oak Hall,” he emphasized.
Volleyball Oak Hall’s volleyball team began its postseason run on Tuesday at Countryside Christian. As the district’s No. 1 seed, Oak Hall received a bye Monday night and defeated No. 4 seed Countryside Christian. Having beaten Countryside Christian in three sets at their gym, Coach Perry McDonald is confident in his team’s success. “Our hope is that we can win our District Championship because, if we do, we’re going to be able to come through and bring our fans at Oak Hall some really fun playoff volleyball,” he said.
The volleyball team has not been able to bring home a district title since 2010. The Lady Eagles have a tough task at hand, as most members don’t have much experience in postseason play. “This team is poised to do what no other team in the past probably eight to 10 years has done,” McDonald shared.
McDonald has high hopes for his team. Besides bringing Oak Hall another district championship, his main goal is to give the girls of the team experience in the post season to grow from in the upcoming years. “We’re very lucky to have three phenomenal seniors – Cate Cannon, Sophia Aulisio, and Emi Scorpio – that are really doing a sensational job on the court guiding this team and helping them be successful,” McDonald noted.
Golf Both the boys and girls golf teams at Oak Hall have its district tournament at Ocala National Golf Club on Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. This tournament is an all-day 18-hole match that will be hosted by Trenton High School.
Oak Hall’s boys’ golf team is hoping to place in the top three in order to advance to the regional tournament. The competitors include St. Francis, Eastside, and Trenton to name a few. Boys’ captains Lucas Katz (OHS class of 2024) and Tanmay Chandra (OHS class of 2025) both have a similar goal in mind: a back-to-back district win for the first time since 2011. “We have the best win record, I believe, in close to 15 years, so it’s looking good,” Katz shared.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Eagles must place as one of the top two teams to qualify for regionals, which shouldn’t be difficult considering the team is looking to win its third district championship in a row. Although members of the team have been strong at the district level, none of the athletes have advanced to regional competition before. Senior co-captain Amanda Malnik is hoping the team plays its best in the postseason. “We need to work on our short game and putting in particular as a team,” Malnik noted.
Cross Country Oak Hall’s cross country programs are hoping to bring home another district win at Alligator Lake in Lake City on Oct. 26. The girls are set to begin competition at 9 a.m. and the boys at 9:40 a.m. All teams are eligible to compete with up to 10 runners at districts. The top eight teams will qualify to the regional competition. “If we do our own jobs, we worry about ourselves, it’ll take care of itself,” Coach Edwin McTureous said.
McTureous is confident that he will see multiple Oak Hall runners place in the top 10 in both the girls’ and boys’ competitions. Senior Lauren Jones and junior Caden Montini are currently the top runners for Oak Hall, but McTureous expects that many other of the teams’ runners have a shot at an individual district title. “If one [opponent] has an off-day, I think we have several boys that [have] a chance to win,” McTureous noted.
Football After a tough season plagued by injuries, Oak Hall’s football program is getting prepared to begin its playoff run on Oct. 29. Out of 24 teams, the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) ranks the top eight teams to continue into the playoffs. “We are guaranteed two games, so if for some reason we lost the first round, we would still be able to play in a consolation game the next week, but then that would be it,” Head Coach RJ Fuhr explained.
Most of the Eagles’ injured players are set to return before the playoffs. Senior quarterback Georgi El-Semarani re-injured his ankle in his first game back during the regular season. Although El-Semarani does not have a set return date, he is hoping to play in the final regular season game against St. Francis. “[I am] aiming to try and be back fully by playoffs,” he said. Junior Eliah Bacchus is the only player that will not return for the playoffs, as he injured his femur.
The team’s experience at the State Championship game last year at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland gave the Eagles a beneficial experience that is being utilized during the postseason this year.
Join Kaylee and Jennifer with special guest, cross country district champion Lauren Jones, on this week’s podcast! All three ladies advanced to regionals in their respective sports (Kaylee in diving, Jennifer in swimming, and Lauren in cross country). Hear how Lauren gets pumped for races, her outlook on regionals and state, and the closeness of her and her teammates.
Due to COVID-19, this school year looks extremely different for everyone in the Oak Hall community. Specifically, seniors are not going to get the senior year they’ve envisioned since their elementary school days. In order to give the student-athletes a sense of normalcy, the athletic department is honoring seniors early in the season this year, in order to guarantee they will not miss out on their long-awaited senior night. Senior night is a special event where the seniors’ highlights and achievements are recognized. Surrounded by coaches, family and friends, the seniors get to reflect on their careers in the sport and contributions to Oak Hall. The seniors on the football team were recognized at halftime of their season opener Sept. 4. The cross country team honored its seniors following the varsity races at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala on Sept. 5. Finally, the Varsity Volleyball team’s seniors were honored Sept. 14 before the second home game against Countryside Christian. A date for senior recognition for swimming and diving, and golf has yet to be determined.
Cross Country Seniors:
Gabby Aulisio Number of years running for Oak Hall: 2 Favorite Cross Country Memory: Singing on long runs. Will you continue to run in college? I will hopefully run for a club team in college. Most significant lesson running has taught you? I learned that pain is temporary. Even when something is hard, it pays off to push through and give it your best effort. Coach Mac’s best words of advice: “Relax the shoulders. Arms! Now go catch that girl.”
Harrison Grooms Number of years running for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite Cross Country Memory: The night before our State Championship Meet, the varsity girls team always sits in a circle to reflect on the season and what we will each bring to the State Championship course. In this circle, we all share tears, laughter, and excitement for what is to come during our final meet of the season. Will you continue to run in college? I hope to run on a team in college. However, if that’s not a possibility, then I will definitely continue running on my own for fun. Most significant lesson running has taught you? No amount of pain is worth letting your team down. Coach Mac’s best words of advice: “Be patient and trust the process.”
Miles Kelleher Number of years running for Oak Hall: 4 Favorite Cross Country Memory: Carb loading with the team. Will you continue to run in college? Nope. Most significant lesson running has taught you? Running has taught me dedication and commitment through many early morning workouts and meets that require a 100 percent effort every day. Coach Mac’s best words of advice: “Run Fast.” Mrs. Mac: “Don’t suck.”
Ally Means Number of years running for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite Cross Country Memory: When we told Circle Christian I was a guy on the guys team or when the bus lost A/C on the way back from regionals and no one had water. Will you continue to run in college? Probably not. Most significant lesson running has taught you? No pain, no gain. Coach Mac’s best words of advice: “Whoever wants it more is going to win.”
Austin Montini Number of years running for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite Cross Country Memory: Winning the Cross Country State Championship last year and leading the team to a Runner-Up finish. Will you continue to run in college? Yes Most significant lesson running has taught you? Running has taught me how to balance many activities at once as well as how to give it everything I’ve got and accept the result. Coach Mac’s best words of advice: “Run fast.”
Jake Gill Jersey: #18 Number of years playing football for Oak Hall: 3 Favorite Football Memory: Comeback win vs. St. Joes last year. Will you continue to play in college? No. Most significant lesson football has taught you? Hydrate. Coach RJ’s best words of advice: “Eyes through the thighs, wrap, squeeze, and roll”.
Andrew Pickens Jersey: #11 Number of years playing football for Oak Hall: 4 Favorite Football Memory: Beating St Joe’s 11th grade year. Will you continue to play in college? Planning on it. Most significant lesson football has taught you? Being a “me guy” doesn’t work. you have to be unselfish in order to succeed in this world. Coach RJ’s best words of advice: “Treat your team like family.”
Brian Storey Jersey: #75 Number of years playing football for Oak Hall: 6 Favorite Football Memory: Hangin with the bois in the coop. Will you continue to play in college? No. Most significant lesson football has taught you? How to handle and overcome adversity. Coach RJ’s best words of advice: “Eyes through the thighs, wrap, squeeze, and roll”.
Shailey Klein Jersey: #6 Number of years playing volleyball for Oak Hall: 4 Favorite Volleyball Memory: Beating undefeated, defending state champion Bell on their home court my junior year. Will you continue to play in college? Possibly for a club team or intramural. Most significant lesson volleyball has taught you? Volleyball has taught me how to be an effective leader and be a role model on and off the court that my teammates can look up to. Coach Perry McDonald’s best advice: He has elevated my game to a whole new level mentally. He’s taught me so much as a setter when it comes to spreading the floor, being deceptive, and remaining consistent.
Sophie Miller Jersey: #1 Number of years playing volleyball for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite Volleyball Memory: Trying to find then senior Ayanna Rollins in a strip mall because she needed to pee and then cramming back into the white bus for two more hours. Will you continue to play in college? I will hopefully continue playing at either the club or intramural level. Most significant lesson volleyball has taught you? Volleyball has taught me that no matter what happens in the past, we can’t dwell on it. Coach J [Jessica Dennis] used to always say we need to play with a “next ball” mentality. This same mindset carries into life off of the court in that we need to recognize our past mistakes but use them to better ourselves and keep improving. Coach Perry McDonald’s best words of advice: “Carpe diem.” With such an unconventional senior season, it is super important to enjoy and give it your all every practice or game because it could be our last.
Elle Storoe Number of years playing golf for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite Golf Memory: My favorite golf memory is riding on the bus with my team listening to music, eating bagels, and getting excited for the match. Will you continue to play in college? I will continue to play golf in college. Most significant lesson golf has taught you: The most significant lesson golf has taught me it to play one shot at a time, just like life, one day at a time. Coach Reger’s best words of advice: “Live to play bad another day”.
Jenna Poppell Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 4 years Favorite Swimming Memory: Bus rides to the meets. Will you continue to swim in college? No. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: The value of being on a team. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “It is important to be on time”.
Ani Gogineni Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 3 Favorite Swimming Memory: Beating the GHS relay at districts. Will you continue to swim in college? Hopefully Division-III swimming; depends on where I go. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: Pushing through pain is gratifying. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “Don’t underestimate yourself.”
Ben Moraski Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 1 Favorite Swimming Memory: Belly flopping when learning how to start. Will you continue to swim in college? I will not continue to swim in college. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: Pace yourself. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “Make sure to breathe.”
Shayne Ryan Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 1 Favorite Swimming Memory: Don’t have one yet. Will you continue to swim in college? No. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: Push yourself. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “Join swim.”
Julian Sanchez Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 1 Favorite Swimming Memory: Probably watching Shayne drown. Will you continue to swim in college? I won’t swim in college. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: Swim has taught me when life gets tough you gotta keep swimming. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “Swim fast.”
Bowen Wilcox Number of years swimming for Oak Hall: 6 Favorite Swimming Memory: Everyone falling off the blocks at a meet because one kid went early. Will you continue to swim in college? I will probably continue to swim in college. Most significant lesson swim has taught you: Swim has taught me that if I try to breathe a foot before the wall, my face is gonna hurt real soon. Coach Quinn’s best words of advice: “Swim like an Eagle!”
Football Cheerleading Seniors:
Megan Whittel Number of years cheering for Oak Hall: 3 Favorite cheer memory: Asking the crowd to cheer with us at a basketball game and then actually doing it! Will you continue to cheer in college? No. Most significant lesson cheer has taught you: Always smile and then you’ll look like you know what you’re doing! Coach Kelley’s best words of advice: “All in every day, all out every time.”
Kathryn Wishart: Number of years cheering for Oak Hall: 7 Favorite cheer memory: Watching the team compete at State in 2020. Will you continue to cheer in college? No. Most significant lesson cheer has taught you: You can always be better at something. Coach Kelley’s best words of advice: “All in everyday, all out every time.”
Oak Hall Senior Diver Evie Kelly placed second in the district at last weeks postseason meet, with a score of 400.45. Yesterday, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) released the selection sheets for the regional meets, listing Kelly as the fifth seed in Class 1A Region 1.
Here is A to Z with our girl Evie!
Area diver you enjoy watching? I really enjoy watching a lot of my teammates, especially Kaylee Rowe and Sara Warm, because she’s amazing.
Best pre-meet meal? It kind of depends, I really like to eat chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, so that’s probably a good one. But, if the meet is super early, something more light, maybe just like a bagel.
Coach’s best words of advice? Make the dive.
Dessert? Ice Cream
Entertaining practice? There’s been a lot of entertaining practices. I can’t think of a specific one but any [practice] with Kaylee (Rowe) and Natalie (Saliwanchik) and the whole dive squad together is always a fun time.
Favorite diving moment? After the meet is over and we’re all happy together and Kaylee makes up a cheer and we all jump off the board together, it’s just really fun.
Goals for postseason? I’m going to be competing with my club and be practicing year-round so my goal is to just keep getting new dives and improving.
Helpful tips to keeping composure on meet day? Just be chill and don’t worry too much. It’s just a meet, so it’s not too big of a deal.
Interesting thing about you away from diving? I really like turtles; I’ve liked them my whole life.
Joker on the team? Kaylee (Rowe), for sure.
Keys to success in diving? Stay tight, have good form, don’t be afraid to try new dives.
Least favorite dive? I don’t like my back dive, because I’m not very good at it. It’s not my best one.
Music you listen to? I listen to all different kinds of music. I like chill, happy music.
Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
Other sports? I used to do gymnastics. I did competitive gymnastics for 11 years of my life and then I switched from gymnastics to diving.
Preparations for a big meet include? Staying focused at practice before the meet, having your goals in mind in the weeks leading up to the meet.
Question you would ask your future self? What should I do? What college should I go to?
Relaxing part of your day? I really like coming home after school and after practice, taking a shower, listening to music, and then once I’m done with my homework I can just relax and sit on the couch.
Superstitions? I’m not really very superstitious, but sometimes I have certain little things, like when I did gymnastics, I would wear the same socks everyday for meet day. For diving, this isn’t really a superstition, but it’s something that I do. We have our little “shammies”, which are towels that we dry off with. I’m just really particular about being dried off and I always like to have my shammy with me as like a comfort blanket.
TV show? The Office
Underrated pet? I have a cat and a dog and I feel like a lot of the time dogs get more credit—I love my dog, but sometimes my cat doesn’t get as much credit. But, I love my cat too!
Vacation spot? The Bahamas
What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? To be an Eagle means having a really nice community with a lot of school spirit.
X-rays? I’ve had a lot of x-rays. When I was in fifth grade, I broke my wrist, and then from the time I broke it until eighth grade I had to go back once a month and get x-rays on it and then in eighth grade I had to have surgery on it. So, I’ve had a lot of x-rays.
Your impact to the younger athletes on the team? Hopefully, my impact is good. I try to be really supportive and encourage people to keep going. It will be sad to leave the younger teammates on our team because I’ll miss competing with them.
Zoo animal? Turtles are my favorite animal but I guess they have tortoises in a zoo. I also really like giraffes in the zoo.