Ker-plunk! Wildcats lose league opener

In many ways, the 2019-20 season is a realization of how far the Oxford Wildcats boys’ swimming and diving programs have come.
“We made the move up to the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red division this season, which has been our goal for the last few years,” head coach Jackie Rank shared.
With the step up in competition, Rank knows this campaign will be a challenging one for her young squad, but one that could reap great benefits down the line. “We’ll be facing some of the best teams in the state of Michigan. We lost a great batch of seniors (off last season’s team), as well as some underclassmen who were unable to return.
“Our focus this year will be on competing,” Rank continued. “I want to send the largest group of boys to the Oakland County and State Meets in our history. I want my student-athletes to focus on training and improving and have fun competing against some of the best Divisions I and II have to offer.”
Hoping to begin the league portion of their schedule on the preferred side of the ledger, the Wildcats traveled to Bloomfield Hills High School to battle the Black Hawks on Jan. 9. Doing everything in her power to help her boys gain an edge, Rank identified a few events in which Oxford could narrow the gap between themselves and one of the popular preseason picks to win the division.
“On paper, I had them as 32 points better than us, but we discussed a few events where we could increase our focus and try to gain some of those points back,” she said.
Rank’s plan nearly worked as the Wildcats gained some of the points they had worked for back, but ultimately fell at the hands of the Black Hawks, 104-82.
“We left some points on the table and lost some incredibly close races, such as the 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay,” commented Rank of her boys’ performance.
“There are some technical pieces we need to continue to work on, the biggest one being how we fight at the end of a race or keep our composure after a subpar performance in the pool or on the diving board.”
Juniors Zach Beatty, Ben Datsko, Nolan May and senior Carter Pollard took home individual first-place finishes for Oxford in the 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle, respectively. Beatty added a second-place showing in the 200 freestyle and classmate Cole Bukoski was runner-up in the 500 freestyle, as well.
“These boys are just beginning to share a glimpse of their potential,” Rank offered. “(Assistant coaches) Paul Howard, John Pearson and I are excited to help them get there!”
Oxford now stands at 1-1 overall. Eager to move back above .500 and record their first OAA Red win of the season, the boys will return home to welcome in the Stoney Creek Cougars on Jan. 16 at 6 p.m.

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