Freshman Phenoms

A significant part of involving yourself at Eureka as a freshman is trying out for the different sports the school offers. This year particularly, three freshmen have stood out, Bailey Boulay (basketball), Haiden Schoessel (swimming), and Ryan Thornhill (wrestling). 

Making varsity, in general, isn’t an easy thing to do, but making the team as a freshman is especially impressive.  All 3 of these athletes have been preparing for this moment. They each started their sport when they were younger and learned to grow on it, earning their place on varsity.  As for Schoessel,  she started swimming at the age of 6 years old.

“I chose [swimming] because I’m best at it,” Schoessel says, “I’ve made a ton of friends during swimming and I didn’t ever want to give that up so I stuck with it.”

Similarly, Boulay didn’t start playing basketball on a real team until 3rd grade. Beforehand, she always had been dribbling and shooting around with her brothers and her dad. Her biggest inspiration for playing the sport is her brother. 

“He played while [I was] growing up and I wanted to be like him,” Boulay says, “My cousins [also] played so I thought it would be fun to give it a shot.”

For Thornhill, he started wrestling while he was also playing another winter sport, Hockey. After trying to juggle 4 different sports in a year, he decided to take a break from wrestling until 6th grade. 

He tried managing hockey, but since most of his teammates were year-round hockey players and he was mainly the only three-sport athlete, he decided to stop playing. Leaving him nothing to do during the winter season. 

“I was later convinced to try wrestling again,” Thornhill says, “From there I just kept getting better and better every practice. I then ended up just sticking with it.”

Each of these athletes went through a wave of nervousness going into tryouts. For Boulay, she felt anxious at the start, but was already close with some of the girls so it eased the transition for her. As for Thornhill, he felt super excited to wrestle on varsity this year. 

“It put a little more pressure on me, but I have been able to get past that and truly feel like a member of the team,” Thornhill says, “It’s been great to be able to wrestle at a high level and be in close matches with kids who might be better than me and have wrestled longer than me.”

During the offseason, Schoessel is a part of the Rockwood Swim Club, a club for swimmers in Saint Louis county.

“On Rockwood, it’s much bigger so it’s more individually based, like how well you can do as a person,” Schoessel says “ [Compared to Eureka], it’s much more fun because you’re working with the team towards a bigger goal.”

Boulay also plays club basketball during the offseason. She does a lot more traveling on the club team than Eureka’s team. 

“On the high school team,  I get to see everyone everyday and we play lots of games together,” Boulay says, “We are always together so it helps us grow closer through because I see them more often.”

Besides wrestling, Thornhill plays football and baseball for Eureka. He feels as if baseball and football are different from wrestling because you have your whole team to depend on if you aren’t playing the best that day or make a mistake.

“However, in wrestling there isn’t anybody to help you or a team that competes with you,” Thornhill says, “Even though we still have a wrestling team, we’re still the only ones who can win the match.”

Similarly, Boulay is also a 3 sport athlete. She plays tennis and lacrosse. While tennis may be competitive, she feels as it’s more of an easy going and fun sport to play compared to Basketball. 

“All sports are completely different so it’s fun to try different things and not be stuck doing the same thing all the time,” Boulay says. 

As their winter sport seasons continued throughout the return of in-person students, Boulay is the only virtual student to decrease her chances of being contact-traced; Schossel and Thornhill are in-person. 

As the regular season is starting to wrap and each of these athletes are heading into districts,  these athletes have made some unforgettable moments in their first season of highschool. 

At the Kirkwood Quad Jan 16,  Schoessel recorded the best times in the state for the 3 events she swam in this season. The events included winning the 50-yard freestyle (23.63), 100 freestyle (51.57) and serving as an anchor on Eureka’s winning 400 freestyle relay team, with a time of 50.73 split.

“I was pretty shocked,” Schoessel said, “Going into it, I knew I was going to try my best but I did not expect those were going to be the results. And I still can’t believe that’s actually the case.”

In the opening game of the season against Ft. Zumwalt South, Boulay scored the team’s first points of the season and helped the team win 40-39. 

For Thornhill and Schoessel, they both have been potentially able to qualify for state.  

I was just at the Mizzou arena last year watching the Eureka state qualifiers compete at state,” Thornhill says, ”And now that I have a chance to go there is just incredible.”

Eureka’s swim and dive team placed 3rd at state last year and now this year, Schoessel is determined to bring home a state title.

“It’s super cool. The fact that all my friends are qualified with me, it’s such a team-bonding thing just to be able to share all the moments together and hopefully do really well with my swim family,” Schoessel said. 

All 3 of these athletes have an ultimate goal of being state champions.

A huge goal of mine is to make it to state for basketball (or any of my sports) but it would especially be cool for basketball,” Boulay says,  “By working hard and the whole team working hard, I think that could be something we can achieve”. 

Schoessel’s goal is to make it to state for the next 3 years of high school and try ranging different techniques, such as a different stroke than freestyle, which is her current event. She will continue to work with her coaches and team to continue being successful in a variety of ways. 

Thornhill shares the same sentiment on work ethic.

Ryan showed up the first day as a freshman and made sure everyone knew that no one would outwork him. From two mile runs, to 30 minute stair workouts he always finished first. It was very shocking to see a freshman do something like that,” Jesse Zeguin, boys wrestling coach said, “ He has won many matches this season because he breaks people. People can not keep up with his pace and it makes better wrestlers give up.

 He’s continuing to work to grow in his sport.  Each athlete will continue working hard until they are given that ultimate title. 

“I know I can do it if I continue to grow in my knowledge and skill of wrestling,” Thornhill says, “I will put in the work, nonstop, trying to get better in the offseason as well as in season to reach my ultimate goal.”