For the first time in school history, Richmond’s athletic department featured bowling and swimming programs.
Since student-athletes had never competed at the bowling alley or in the swimming pool at the high school level, Jeff Ingram (head bowling coach) and Michael Way (head swim coach) had to rely on athletes from other sports teams.
Their athletic abilities were on display from the beginning of the season, but it took a good amount of time for the athletes to pick up on the basic skill sets needed in each sport. Neither program won a meet during the regular season, but the progress made over time was enough for both Ingram and Way to remain optimistic heading into their second years.
It was a learning experience for everyone involved in the programs’ inaugural seasons.
The boys and girls bowling squads placed sixth and seventh place, respectively, in their debut meet in Lumberton back in November. When it was all said and done, and the conference standings were finalized, the boys team moved up a spot — finishing as the fifth-best team in the Sandhills Athletic Conference. The girls stayed in the same spot, ending the year in seventh place, but worked hard throughout the year in order to improve on their fundamentals.
Justin Ingram, who graduated on Friday, highlighted the Raiders’ effort during their first season. Ingram was the only bowler on either team to receive all-SAC honors and ended up advancing to states, where he finished 12th overall.
The boys and girls swim team also kicked off their first-ever season this past winter. They struggled with their times and disqualifications early on, but eventually cut back on both as the year went on. Second-place finishes for both the boys and girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay teams (girls at the SAC championship meet, boys in the regular-season finale) proved how much progress had been made from the beginning of the season until the end.
No swimmer was able to advance to regionals.
WHAT WAS SAID
“It was definitely a learning experience for the kids as well as the coaches. We were starting from scratch, even to the point of what order the events were done,” Way said. “The girls and the boys improved tremendously throughout the season, especially when they started getting more comfortable with their events and the order in which they swam.
“We had some good things happen, some good finishes in individual and relay races,” he added. “Overall, I would say it was a very successful season considering where we started.”
Now that the bowling and swim programs have a year of experience under their belts, they expect to be among the top teams in the conference. Pinecrest and Jack Britt have the upper hand, as they’ve had teams in both sports prior to the 2017-18 school year, so the Raiders will be on a mission to unseat the Patriots and the Buccaneers.
Rising senior Savannah Lampley didn’t make the girls All-SAC bowling team this past season, but is a likely selection for next year’s squad. Natalie Davis and Greyson Way were two-fourths of the girls 200-yard relay team that was runner-up at the final SAC contest and will be returning for their senior seasons this winter.
Carter Roberson, pictured above, was a member of the Richmond swimming program in its inaugural season this past winter.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.