GREENCASTLE -- Someone might wonder, what is a coach or a team supposed to do that loses a senior class like Luke Beasley and the Lady Tiger Sharks did?
What do you do when you lose a swimmer like Kelsey Murtagh ,who advanced to the state finals every year she swam; or swimmers like Erika Collins, Morgan Terry, Caitlyn Gannaway and Lainey Poor who were always there scoring points when their team needed them the most?
Do you sit back and wallow over the talent that the team lost or do you roll up your sleeves and reload for the upcoming season?
That answer was easy for Beasley -- you reload.
"We lost a great senior class last year, arguably one of the better classes to come through Greencastle swimming," Beasley said. "Any time when you lose swimmers like Erika Collins, Morgan Terry, Kelsey Murtagh and Caitlyn Gannaway, Lainey Poor or whenever you lose a group of that caliber; you are going to need people to step up for you and fill some voids.
"And we have a lot of strong swimmers returning for us and we have set our goals for the year already. We want to take care of county and conference, then turn our attention to the sectional meet and make sure we bring our best to that meet," Beasley added.
One of the swimmers that is returning this year for Beasley and the Lady Tiger Sharks is Melissa Ball. Last year she was crowned the sectional champ in the 50 yard freestyle and was part of the 200 medley relay team that won at the sectional last year.
"She (Ball) has been one of the fastest swimmers in the in that Crawfordsville sectional the past couple of years," Beasley said about his returnee. "She is someone we know that will go out and can win two individual events at sectional and advance to the state.
"And I think she has the potential to score points at the state meet," Beasley added. "She has just an incredible work ethic and knows that the dedication that has to be put into this sport."
Also returning this year for Greencastle are Natasha Airing, MelanieBittles and Sydney Terry. Last year, Terry missed most of the 2008 season due to torn ACL, but made a dramatic comeback in sectional prelims.
"Sydney went from being seeded 19th last year because she didn't swim much because of her ACL injury, to placing in the top six and scoring points for the team," Beasley said. "She did that with maybe four solid weeks of training last year and now she will have four months of training."
Beasley did say that there is one thing that has to happen this year. The juniors need to step up and assume their roles this year.
"They (the juniors) are used to the pressure being on the older girls' shoulders, but this year they need to embrace the pressure and rise to the challenge," Beasley said.
Along with welcoming back some familiar faces to the team, Beasley and the Lady Tiger Sharks will be welcoming a new class of freshmen to the team.
"It's a hard transition, going from middle school swimming to high school swimming," Beasley said. "The practices are harder and longer, but this group of freshmen have given a great effort these past few weeks and have rose to the occasion and I'm proud of them for that."
A new freshmen class isn't the only thing that Beasley is welcoming to the team this year. The Lady Tiger Sharks welcome back one of their own to help bring the diving program back up to caliber -- Angie Coffin.
"She is still the record holder for diving here at Greencastle and she brings a great pedigree to this team and coaching staff," Beasley said. "We have already had a great turnout for the diving team this year and I am really happy and excited to have her here.
"She has great knowledge of diving and the kids are excited to have her on the team this year," Beasley said.
Beasley knows that even though his team has a lot of talent returning, it's going to be a process to get this year's team ready for the three big meets -- county, conference and sectional.
"Losing Murtagh to graduation opens a big hole in the backstroke event and it also leaves a hole in the medley relay, which is an event that we have been very successful at," Beasley said. "We set a school record in the 200 medley last year, so that is going to be our focus this year -- filling those holes.
"The backstroke event is wide open for us, but Melissa is on that elite level for us and just as Kelsey had a big year for us last year, we are hoping that Melissa can have one like it," Beasley said. "The expectations of this program grow every year and I think that some will rise up to the challenge."
Beasley knows were his team is the weakest right now, but he also knows where it is the strongest at as well.
"I think we are going to strong in the freestyle events this year," Beasley said. "I think people are going to have a hard time beating Melissa in those events and I think she can be competitive in the 100 butterfly also.
"And really we have three girls that can swim the 100 fly, Ball, Airing and Bittles. The 100 butterfly is by far our deepest event and hopefully we have some girls step for us this year," Beasley added. "Sara Dory, who is a senior this year, can help us and Sarah Kohler is another senior that is going to help us. She is going to be one of our distance swimmers this year. Yeah, we might be a little thin in the backstroke and breaststroke events right now, but by the end of the season we hope that won't be the case.
"Yeah, we lost some swimmers, but I think that all that does to be honest is provide new girls with opportunities -- opportunities to succeed. And so far I have seen these girls embrace that challenge and relish in it," Beasley said.