After months of arduous workouts, countless miles of repetitive sprints, and bus trips throughout the Beehive state, the careers of 12 Tooele High seniors near completion.
Fans, family, and teammates cheered the 12th graders earlier this month while they were spotlighted during the team’s annual tribute prior to the Buffs final home meet.
The paddlers’ season wraps up with a dual meet Wednesday against long-time rival Cyprus, followed by the Region 10 championships Saturday at Ogden.
The Tooele girls are heavily favored to win region and the boys will battle Stansbury for the gold trophy.
The top 30 fastest Class 4A swimmers in each event qualify for the state championships on Feb. 7-8 at Brigham Young University.
“We are proud of all our seniors and appreciate the valuable contribution they make to our team,” said coach Holly Tate. “They work hard and all of them have either met or will hit personal-best times.”
She noted that some of the senior athletes competed for the first time this year while others are seasoned veterans with state meet experience.
Following is a brief summary of each of Tooele’s 12th-grade swimmers.
Annalee Beard, daughter of Jolene and Jeremy Beard, balances school, work, and fun. She enjoys coaching Tooele’s youth swim team and lifeguarding.
Beard competes in track, water polo and swimming and is a member of the football film crew while keeping a 3.9 grade-point average. She intends on pursuing a career as a neonatal nurse.
Aspen Grgich, daughter of Terisa and Jim Grgich, is a captain on this year’s team and holds a 3.9 grade-point average. She is heavily involved in extra-curricular activities, including FFA, Tooele Sign Pride and Health Occupation Student Association/Future Health Professionals.
She is also captain of the Tooele water polo team. She will enroll in BYU-Idaho this fall and plans to attend nursing school.
Aspen Walker, the daughter of Jared Walker and Suzanne Perry, swam all four years and is captain of this year’s team. She is Tooele High’s English Sterling Scholar and maintains a 3.96 grade-point average.
A true leader, she immerses herself in high school activities including Show Choir, National Honor Society, Math Club and SheTech. She is finalizing her post-high school options.
Austin Chlubna, son of Kelli Chlubna, swam for THS all four years. “He is a versatile swimmer and adds valuable points in every event he swims,” Tate said.
In addition to swimming, Chlubna played for Tooele’s water polo teams throughout high school. He hold a 3.0 grade-point average and plans to join the military following graduation.
Cade McEachern, the son of Kris and Brett McEachern, earned a 3.3 grade-point average.
He previously finished as a state finalist for Tooele and is the top point-getter for the boys this year. He excels in water polo and plans to enter the workforce after graduation.
Cooper Michael Woods, the son of Shawn Woods and Kim Woods, is one of this year’s team captains. In addition to his dedicated work as a swimmer, he carries a 3.0 grade-point average.
He enjoys camping, fishing, and playing baseball. After high school, Woods plans on serving a mission for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When he returns, he heads to the University of Portland, where he will double major in biology and neuroscience as he follows his career path in neuro or pediatric surgery.
Ella Leonelli, the daughter of Mike and Johanna Leonelli, earned a 4.0 grade point average while being an active member of the swim team, National Honor Society, choir, Future Farmers of America and Math Club and maintaining a job.
She plans to attend Utah State University and major in environmental engineering.
Gavin Gray, the son of Jeff and Freddi Gray, competed in swimming for the first time this year. He swam freestyle for Tooele and made significant time drops throughout the season.
Gray previously served as a member of Tooele’s Color Guard team, enjoys robotics, and is considering various options for his post-high school plans.
Jennifer Hall, a four-year team member, is the daughter of Suzanne and David Hall. She carries a 3.6 grade-point average and served as a swim team captain in her junior year.
She plays water polo, works as a lifeguard and assistant coach for Tooele’s age group team. Following high school, Hall will work toward becoming a physical therapist and plans on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jose Gomez-Santos, the son of Jose and Cleo Gomez, is also a first-year competitor for the Buffs. He carries a 3.1 grade-point average and participates in Skills USA.
He is considering enlistment in one of the military branches following graduation. “We appreciate Jose’s dedication to the team and are simply amazed at the improvement he made throughout the season,” Tate said.
Nathan Boren, son of Mike and Wendy Boren, carries a 3.8 grade-point average and is heavily involved with drama productions at THS.
He swam for the Buffs all four years and has proven to be a dedicated, hard-working, and valuable team member. Following graduation, he plans to serve a mission for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then attend Snow College.
Biographical information on the 12th Tooele senior, Cooper Woods, was not available at press time.