Seniors passed on the torch to the “Young Guns”

  • Written by Derek Johnson
One-by-one  they  were  announced on the PA system at Redmond Pool. The eight Falcons whose prep careers were coming to a close. Each young man stepped forward to acknowledge the applause. Then they all plunged into the pool in a playful manner that had everyone laughing and enjoying the moment.
DSC 1687Freshman Soren Gordon (left) qualified for Districts and is one of Woodinville’s “Young Guns.” (Photo by Derek Johnson)Woodinville coach George Sayah described his bittersweet feelings.
“There are eight seniors, which is a lot,” Sayah said. “Having that kind of leadership is something we count on because they help keep the team together. I’m really proud of them and what they’ve been able to accomplish and what we’ve been able to do together. But of course I’m going to miss them. Pretty soon we’re going to have to say goodbye.”
The seniors are Five Heck, Jack Sell, Cole Sheperd, Jonas Loeser, Matthew Klingman, James Nicholas, Josh Eagle and Zach Morris. 
“They’re all very smart kids and really care about each other,” Sayah said. “They’re going to go [into the adult world] and figure things out on their own. As we get older, things get a little bit more real. One thing I like to instill in them is that they always have a home here in Woodinville.   If they ever need anything or want to check in on the program, they’re always welcome.”
As the senior class departs, a dynamic group of freshmen and sophomores is poised on the brink of stardom. Call them the “Young Guns”. Or the “Sensational Six”. Whatever  their  name, they’re bursting with potential.  
DSC 1700Woodinville coach George Sayah (right) and assistant Jennifer Cruze (left) have a long term plan to build a winning team. (Photo by Derek Johnson)“Those guys are the future of this program,” Sayah said. “They’re going to have to step in next year and be leaders… I’m confident they will.”
The youngsters are Konstantin Damov, Soren Gordon, Jeffrey Numrych, Tim Walsh, Jeremy Ralph and Brody Soedel.  
The only threat to team success will be low roster numbers. But Sayah is determined to recruit more kids to next year’s squad.
“The philosophy we have is really built on a community,” Sayah said. “I want them to feel they are a part of something and that they’re cared for. They’re going to compete and have a lot of fun and get a lot better.”
One of the emergent Young Guns, Konstantin Damov, qualified for Districts this year as a freshman. 
“I felt really welcome right away,” Damov said. “By the seniors and everyone else. And I felt good about myself, I guess. Because I ended up swimming faster than I thought I was capable. Everyone on the team encourages you and it makes you swim faster.”
Damov yearns to see other kids join this new era of Woodinville Swim and Dive. 
“They should definitely join,” he said. “First of all they would be welcome.  And its fine if they don’t know how to swim, don’t worry about it. Because Coach George is very hard-working and he’ll make sure they improve and become a better swimmer. Sometimes it’s challenging to wake up early, but this whole thing is a lot of fun. It pays off in so many ways in your life. We would love to see more people here.”
DSC 1671Five Heck in mid-air off the diving board. (Photo by Derek Johnson)FIVE HECK CLOSING OUT PREP CAREER WITH A BANG
Brandishing a bold diving style befitting his unique name, Five Heck is going for the brass ring this postseason. 
“I barely made Districts last year,” Heck said. “But I made it on my first try this year, which is really exciting. And my coach [Debra Shelton] thinks that I have a chance to make it to State… I’m having a lot more fun this year with diving. I’m not just learning, I’m getting better -- and that’s a lot of fun.”

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