Bria Dixson (10) swiftly dribbles the ball down the court with teammates by her side. The varsity girls basketball team was ranked 34th in the state last season and hopes to move up in the rankings this coming season. Photo by Jamarius Jenkins

The fall sports season was very successful for the Quakers this year. The boys soccer team made it to the second round of the state playoff tournament, the boys cross country team placed third at the state championship race, and individual cross country state qualifier Autumn Ost (9) ran a near school record in the 5k at the PIL championships, going on to place 37th out of 138 runners in the women’s state championship race. With an accomplished fall season in the past, what is in store for Franklin winter sports teams?

Women’s Basketball: The team had an impressive 2016-17 season. According to varsity team member Bria Dixson (10), in the five years prior to last year, the women’s team had won seven games total. Last year alone, the team won nine games, and were mere tenths of a point away from qualifying for the state playoff tournament. Dixson credits most of their success to the change in coaching staff as well as a new, more serious attitude toward training adopted by the athletes. This season, she’s excited to continue the momentum that the team picked up last year, despite losing five seniors and one exchange student who returned home. “We’re basically a brand-new team,” said Dixson.

Even though basketball competitions are exclusively in the winter sports season for high school, Dixson explained that year-round training is both encouraged and easily accessible. Many varsity basketball athletes participate in these various leagues throughout the school year as well as conditioning training in mid to late summer. She said this training really helps going into the season. Those who participated “definitely stood out at tryouts,” said Dixson. Going into the season, Dixson is hopeful and mentioned that there many promising new freshmen on the varsity team.

Men’s Basketball: The team did not have as much success last season due to loss of key players, which caused a lack of team chemistry and cohesiveness. Despite this, Monroe Starr (11) is hopeful for the upcoming season. “Our coaching staff has taken a whole new direction,” said Starr. Scott Aker, the new head coach, has been implementing a new training regime for the team since last spring along with the entirely new coaching staff. “It’s taken time, but we’re starting to adapt and get the coach-player connection going,” Starr said.

Starr admitted that expectations are low for the team going into this season, but he hopes to let that fuel him and his teammates. He encourages Franklin students to come out and support at games. The varsity team’s first league game is on December 14 vs. Cleveland.

Swimming: Since Franklin does not have its own swimming pool, the swim team practices at Mt. Scott Community Center. Meets are generally on Friday evenings throughout the winter with the district meet concluding the season in mid-February. Sadie Brown (12), last year’s only state qualifier for Franklin, said that going into the season, many people are just trying to get back in the rhythm of having hour- long practices five days a week. A couple people do year-round club swimming, and Brown noted that some swimmers who don’t participate in club do other sports in the fall and spring which keep them conditioned, so they’re not going into the winter season with no training behind them. She also explained that this season will have more meets because last year, there were cancellations due to the snowstorms. This will help newer swimmers gain more experience.

Wrestling: The renovated building has brought the wrestling team a crisp, new mat room to practice in this winter. Like swimming, there’s not really any off-season training or conditioning, so the first couple weeks of practice are a way to test the water and see where athletes are with their physical and technical abilities. Four-year wrestler Maurice Senter (12) said that he’s seen potential from some young athletes at practices and looked forward to their first match which was in the first week of December.

Senter added that Franklin placed second at the district championships last year, and credits their success to the friendly competitive spirit within the team. “Everyone gets along well,” he said. He noted that the individuals within the team working toward a common goal really bonds the athletes and pushes them to be better, and they work hard every day to accomplish the ambitious goals they set for themselves. Their hard work is bound to result in another successful season for the wrestling team.

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