Gabhart, seniors ready to show the way for young Stars

BNL seniors Shelby Slaughter, Emma Gabhart, Bella Held and Katelyn Moody will lead the Stars into the 2022-23 season.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Do swimmers often dip their toe into the water to check the temperature? That’s the cliche, testing to see if an activity is to the liking, and now it’s a meme. Most just dive right in, showing some courage.

Bedford North Lawrence’s Emma Gabhart had to gingerly dip her broken toe in the pool late last season, an injury that cost her training time and ultimately some speed in the IHSAA state finals. So now she’s diving right in, a senior with the goal of a return trip to the ultimate stage of the state tournament.

Gabhart will be in the spotlight as the Stars start their training for the 2022-23 season. She’s been to the state twice, she knows the way and the work it takes. Gabhart and her classmates – Shelby Slaughter, Bella Held and Katelyn Moody – will be showing a young team the way to success.

BNL has nearly doubled the number of participants (13 as official practice sessions started on Monday) from a year ago. “And that’s a good start,” BNL coach Adam Young said. Even though a significant number are freshmen with talent, it falls on the shoulders of the upperclassmen to lead by example.

“It’s most important for them to see we work hard,” Gabhart said. “It takes a lot of commitment. If we show them, they’ll do the same and we’ll have a good team.”

Start with Gabhart. She won two sectional races last season and competed in the 200-yard individual medley (18th in the state) and 100 butterfly (25th) In the state meet. She will likely add the 100 breaststroke and some relays to her meet workload, with the ultimate destination of finishing in the top eight in the state finals.

“That’s still my end goal,” Gabhart said. “I think I can do it.”

Slaughter will be a freestyle ace, with the 500 as her main race. She was the sectional runner-up in that event last year.

“I would expect her to be competitive,” Young said. “Jasper is a tough sectional, but she’s been up there the last couple of years. We’ll see if she can take that thing down. I know she wants it.”

BNL’s depth will mean contributions from sophomores Katarina Kwakye and Madeline King, from junior transfer Bridget Keen and freshmen Ava Lipp, Amelia Rich and Kayeh Kwakye. Lipp is expected to make a huge splash after a successful club career.

“We have everyone back for the most part,” Young said. “The freshmen are a nice addition. Junior high is very different compared to the high school schedule. They’ll really see what practicing for two hours can do for you.”

BNL will start the regular season at Edgewood on Nov. 22.