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HERALD ALL-AREA WINTER SPORTS AWARDS: Lee County swimmers makes it clean sweep for Players of Year

Lee County Girls Swimmer of the Year, Casey Schoenberger, Boys Swimmer of the Year Trey Hardison and Wrestler of the Year Rashaud Anthony smile for a group photo earlier this week after learning of their honors. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Lee County Girls Swimmer of the Year, Casey Schoenberger, Boys Swimmer of the Year Trey Hardison and Wrestler of the Year Rashaud Anthony smile for a group photo earlier this week after learning of their honors. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

LEESBURG — It was impossible to see in the water, hard to make out just what was happening at Lee County High, where they swim better than any place in Southwest Georgia.

But there they were, two swimmers headed in opposite directions and eventually landing in the same place.

Sure, it looked like Trey Hardison and Casey Schoenberger were pointed the same way as they slipped through the water, churning their way to big seasons.

But in reality, Schoenberger, who has been swimming since she was 4 years old, and Hardison, were polar opposites.

Still, at the end of the long season, Schoenberger was named The Herald’s Player of the Year in girls swimming, and Hardison won the boys honor as The Herald’s Player of the Year.

Same splash — just that the water was headed in two directions.

Schoenberger, a senior and the only swimmer individually in this part of the state to qualify for the GHSA state swimming meet, wrapped up a long and productive career at Lee County, where she followed her two older sisters to swimming prominence.

Hardison, a junior, is swimming upstream, trying to make giant strides toward what he hopes is a future in the water that will win him a college scholarship.

Schoenberger may not swim in college.

“I’m talking to Darton, and they have a great swimming program,’’ Schoenberger said. “But I may be done, done with swimming. I may go to Darton. I’m still trying to decide. I’ve done it so long, I’m kind of burned out.’’

If she is finished, then she ends with a flourish as the best female swimmer in Southwest Georgia in a season that was full of pain and comebacks. Schoenberger was ill a good part of the season and had to battle back, get back into swimming shape and then make a final run at the state meet.

She made it, qualifying in the 50 freestyle, swimming a career-best 25.59 at state. She won the Region 1-AAAA title in the 50 free, and also took home the region title in the 100 freestyle. Schoenberger also swam on Lee County’s 200 freestyle relay team that qualified for the state meet. She was the anchor and heart and soul of that team.

“Casey just dominates our region in swimming,’’ said Hardison, a junior who came into his own this season.

It wasn’t easy.

“It was really (difficult),’’ she said. “(The season) was a little disappointing more than anything because it was my senior year and I missed so much of it. But it was good to (get to state).’’

Schoenberger’s season says as much about her tenacity and dedication as anything as she bounced back and finished strong.

But 2011-12 was Hardison’s breakout season, and he swam several events, including the 500 freestyle, the 100 breastroke, the 200 individual medley as well as swimming for three relay teams: the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams.

Hardison had never worked out twice a day but made up his mind to take the sport much more seriously and vowed to start swimming the grueling 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. workouts with swimming coach Jeff DeMott’s club, as well as swimming every day after school.

“I decided this year I wanted to go to state, and I decided I wanted to swim in college,’’ Hardison said. “I thought swimming would give me a structured schedule in college. I was serious about swimming before, but this year a lot more serious, and I started going to the 5 a..m. (workouts). It was tough, but my passion for swimming and my love for swimming really increased.’’

The results were staggering.

Hardison dropped 25 seconds off of his best time in the 500 freestyle and swam the best time in Southwest Georgia, winning the title in 5:29 at the region meet, while just missing the state qualifying time by a few seconds. The next best time in SW Georgia was 5:40, which was the top time in the Region 1-AAA meet.

“I’m going to get it next year,’’ said Hardison, who has vowed to reach the Class AAAA meet as a senior. He is also sold on the idea of swimming at the next level.

“Before, I never thought about swimming in college, but that’s a goal now. I talked to Jeff DeMott about it and he really impressed (upon) me the fact that I could swim for Division II or Division III schools or NAIA schools and get a scholarship. I know I can get a scholarship.’’


ALL-AREA TEAMS

Boys

Alex Donnan, Westover, Sr.

Why he’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA 100 butterfly and swam on Westover’s 400 freestyle relay team that won the Region title and 200 medley relay team that finished second.

Wynn Bell, Westover, Jr.

Why he’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA 100 backstroke and swam on Westover’s 400 freestyle relay team that won the region title and the 200 medley team that finished second.

Will Moncrief, Lee County, Sr.

Why he’s here: Finished second in the Region 1-AAAA meet in the 200 freestyle in a time of 2:10.33 and swam on Lee’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams, both of which finished second in the region meet.

Steve Holden, Lee County, Jr.

Why he’s here: Swam on Lee County’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams, both of which finished second in the Region 1-AAAA meet.

Ashton Wahbeh, Deerfield-Windsor, So.

Why he’s here: Finished fourth in the GISA Class AAA state meet in the 500 freestyle and the 200 freestyle, and he also finished eighth in the 50 freestyle.

Nathan McLendon, Deerfield-Windsor, Fr.

Why he’s here: Finished fifth in the GISA Class AAA state meet in the 200 IM, and was 9th in the 500 freestyle.

Nick Myers, Deerfield-Windsor, So.

Why he’s here: Finished eighth in the GISA Class AAA state meet in the 100 breaststroke and was 10th in the 200 IM.

Evan Countryman, Americus-Sumter, Sr.

Why he’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 50 freestyle and also in the 100 freestyle and anchored the 200 medley relay team and the 200 freestyle relay team, both of which won region titles.

Allen Garrett, Americus-Sumter, Sr.

Why he’s here: Won Region 1-AAA titles in the 200 IM and in the 500 freestyle and swam on 200 medley relay team and the 200 freestyle relay team, both of which won region titles.

David Murphy, Americus-Sumter, Fr.

Why he’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, and swam on the 200 medley relay team and 200 freestyle relay team, both of which won region titles.

Girls

Jordan Yarbrough, Lee County, So.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAAA title in the 100 individual medley and finished second in the 100 butterfly. And she swam on Lee’s 200 freestyle relay team that qualified for the state meet.

Madison Holcomb, Lee County, Sr.

Why She’s here: Finished second in the Region 1-AAAA meet in the 500 freestyle and swam on Lee’s 200 freestyle relay team that went to state.

Haley Doughtry, Deerfield-Windsor, Fr.

Why She’s here: Set the school record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:38.50, finishing second in the GISA AAA state meet, and also finished fifth in the state meet in the 200 freestyle and 50 freestyle, and was seventh in the 100 freestyle. She also swam on the DWS 200 freestyle relay team that finished second in the state.

Hannah Bow, Deerfield-Windsor, Sr.

Why She’s here: Finished fifth in the state meet in the 500 freestyle.

Camille Fox, Deerfield-Windsor, Sr.

Why She’s here: Finished sixth in the state meet in the 500 freestyle.

Maggie Duval, Deerfield-Windsor, So.

Why She’s here: Finished eighth in the state meet in the 100 breaststroke, and qualified in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, but didn’t compete because of a shoulder injury.

Katie Donnan, Westover, Jr.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 200 individual medley, and was third in the 100 breaststroke, and swam on the 200 medley relay team and the 200 freestyle team, which both won region titles.

Allison Palmer, Westover, Sr.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 100 backstroke and swam on the 200 medley relay team and the 200 freestyle team, both of which won region titles.

Alley Hayes, Westover, Fr.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 100 freestyle and was third in the 200 IM.

Lee Chelsea, Westover, So.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 500 freestyle.

Katheryn Askerzada, Americus-Sumter, Sr.

Why She’s here: Won the Region 1-AAA title in the 100 butterfly and finished second in the 200 IM.

Miesha Coates, Americus-Sumter, Sr.

Why She’s here: Won Region 1-AAA titles in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.