RANDOLPH, NJ- As practices start for the Randolph High School Fighting and Lady Rams Swim Teams, both the swimmers and coaches have high hopes for the 2019-2020 season.

With former head coach Linda Poppy retiring at the end of last year, the team was anxiously awaiting the announcement of who was going to lead them this season. Krystal Hoffman, Poppy’s assistant coach, was ultimately granted the position.

In addition, two new coaches, Kathleen Van Valen and Fred Yawger, joined the team and immediately sprang into action. Coach Van Valen is currently assisting with getting the freshmen comfortable on the team and helping them improve their strokes while Coach Yawger is helping several of the sophomores and juniors become faster. All three coaches want the team to succeed this season.

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“2019-2020 is monumental,” Coach Hoffman said. “It is the start of something new. The continuation of greatness. We are all one team and together we are unstoppable.”

The Lady Rams ended their 2018-2019 season with a record of 7-5, losing their NJSIAA State Playoff meet to North Hunterdon. With several strong senior girls graduating, the Lady Rams were skeptical about this upcoming season. However, with 10 freshmen girls joining the team, they are feeling confident with the depth that is now on the roster.

Captains Kyra Kayal and Hannah Shortino are incredibly optimistic about the season.

“I’m most excited to see how all of our hard work is displayed throughout the season and how we will work together to highlight everyone’s strengths,” Shortino stated.

Kayal added, “I am looking forward to the bonds that we are going to make with each other and the love and support that comes along with this team. I am super excited to see what this year brings!”

The Fighting Rams ( Boys ) ended their 2018-2019 season with a record of 9-2, losing to Montgomery in the NJSIAA State Sectional Semi-Finals.

They also sent four boys to the NJ Meet of Champions for the 200-freestyle relay last March. The team consisted of graduated senior Josh Zitomar, current senior Danny Dubji, current junior Aiden St. Peter, and current sophomore Kieran Lucas.

In addition, the Fighting Rams had won the Sectional Title three years in a row but fell short of winning it last season. But, with the help of the three new freshmen, captains Danny Dubij and Sean Hermes are hoping to reclaim that title.

“I obviously hope we win sectionals again and I do think we have a chance at it,” Dubij explained. “But, at the end of the day I really hope that everyone drops time in all their events, and we have a great season.”

St. Peter and another member of the Fighting Rams, Matt Walsh, echo Dubij’s wishes. “I’m hoping that everyone will really come together as a team,” St. Peter remarked.

Walsh added, “I would love to see the team camaraderie be even more lively than the past two years because each year that has been my favorite part of the season.  Just seeing it continue to thrive is what I want most from this season.”

The Fighting and Lady Rams face off in their first meet December 5th against Morris Hills.