Winter preps spotlight: Summit High’s Wyatt Dickerson, Maddy O’Malley, Emily Pappas and Will Flannagan | SummitDaily.com

Winter preps spotlight: Summit High’s Wyatt Dickerson, Maddy O’Malley, Emily Pappas and Will Flannagan

Interviewed by Phil Lindeman
plindeman@summitdaily.com

Editor's note: This is first of a two-part interview series with Summit HS athletes. Watch tomorrow's newspaper for part two.

There's more than snow in them there hills.

Just ask the 200-some-odd student athletes from Summit High School: Just because they grew up in ski country doesn't mean skiing and snowboarding are the end all, be all of sports. Basketball, wrestling and ice hockey are alive and well in the county, led by a group of up-and-coming stars with their sights on post-grad play.

In early January — just about the halfway mark of the season — the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with team captains and leaders from the Tigers swimming, hockey and wrestling teams. Here's what they had to say.

Maddy O'Malley, Lady Tigers Swimming

Senior Maddy O'Malley deserves her title as swim team captain. The 18-year-old is one of the most seasoned members, a backstroke specialist who started swimming at 2 years old and joined a competitive team at 11. She's been with the Lady Tigers all four years and leads a promising medley relay A-team (backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle) with teammates Stephanie Schulman, Katerina Lee and Emily Sandberg.

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My first memory in the pool: I loved swimming right away! Swimming was used by my mother as a way of bonding and increasing my sensory awareness, as I was adopted and lived in an orphanage for the first 17 months of my life. I started off with swim lessons way before I even joined a team.

Why I fell in love with swimming: It's hard to explain how and why I fell in love, but I did. When I joined a team my love for swimming grew even stronger. The dynamics of the team is one of the things that kept me coming back, but not only that, swimming competitively. When I first joined I was introduced to a world that I never really participated in and I just automatically fell in love.

My swim team highlight: Watching my times slowly drop each season. However, it's not just that. Cheesy and cliché as this will sound, watching the smiles that come to my teammate's faces when they get a new PR (personal record) or finish a hard race is always very rewarding.

My favorite memory out of the pool: While practicing is very important, my team absolutely loves to goof around and pull pranks on each other. It honestly helps with the dynamics and the bonding. I remember one time when I was swimming and one of my teammates swam up behind me and pulled me down under the water just as I was taking a breath. I came up coughing and sputtering water, all while laughing at the same time. It was very hard to catch my breath.

If I weren't swimming in January…: I've been swimming so long that I honestly can't see myself playing another sport! I think I would honestly turn towards maybe basketball since I did love that sport. That, or maybe even ice skating/figure skating, since when I was younger I enjoyed it very much and I wanted to continue but my swimming got in the way of it. I ended up choosing swimming over ice-skating.

Pregame meal: I really love pasta to be honest, so that's usually my go-to meal before a big swim meet. Of course, I make sure to add protein to it as well. That, or Chipotle.

Post-win celebration: Oh wow, that's a hard question… Probably having either my family or my team by my side. It's really hard to say though, because swimming is not only a team sport but also an individual sport, so everyone celebrates differently depending on what happened at the meet.

Favorite workout music: My music type is all over the place so that I honestly can't pick, but I would have to say it has to be something to really get me pumped up. Sometimes I think listening to a slow and classical piece is a good idea but it's really not (laughs). I need something that really gets my blood going, kind of like "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten.

My pre-meet ritual: Right before I go off the blocks I put my goggles on and put my hands on my hips, trying to get my mind in the zone. My mind is usually racing a million miles a minute, which sometimes messes with my swimming, so I literally have to go, "Shhhhh," in order to silence my mind.

My biggest rival: I would have to say that Abbey Lau, Emily Sandberg and Stephanie Schulman are my biggest rivals. Don't get me wrong: they are wonderful people. They are my teammates, my friends, competitors and my lane buddies. I love these girls a lot and they always push me to do my best, and I am very thankful that I get to swim with them.

Do I still get to ski and snowboard? That's the thing — I really don't. All my swim meets are on Saturdays and I tend to work on Sundays, so I don't actually get the chance to go out and hit the slopes. It's been over a year since I've been on the snow. I really miss it and I hope that I'll actually be able to get out this season and going skiing or snowboarding.

Emily Pappas, Lady Tigers swimming

Unlike her team captain, Emily Pappas is relatively new to competetive swimming. Last season was her first time on the Lady Tigers team, but she enjoyed it enough to return for her senior year. She's a runner at heart and enjoys swimming for the intense cross-training and cardio it offers. And it shows: Pappas has dropped times in her major events (500 and 100-yard freestyle) consistently over the past two seasons and is now a member of the B-team relays.

My first memory on swim team: Last year was the first year I did swim team and I was really nervous because I was a junior and had never done the sport. At first it was not fun because I could not understand why I wasn't picking it up quickly. Near the end I started to get the hang of it, but I still had a lot of room for improvement.

Why I returned my senior year: I came back this year because swim was challenging and kept me in shape. I felt up for the challenge.

My swim team highlight: Improving my times. So far I have improved my 500 and 100 times. That felt very rewarding because my hard work was paying off and I was improving.

My favorite memory from the pool: I love practice because my lane mate pushes me to be better, but she is also fun to talk to as well. During meets when I am not in the pool I like to focus on what time I am going to get, as well as listen to music to pump myself up.

If I weren't swimming in January…: I would be on the ski team because I love to ski and I love the snow.

Pre-meet meal: I love oatmeal! It's the best super food.

Post-win celebration: After a big win I like to talk about how I did it and try to focus on the next success.

Favorite workout music: I love to listen to rap before my swim meet because it makes the vibe feel more intense.

My biggest rival: People in the lanes next to me are my rivals because they push me in practice to go faster.

Do I still get to ski and snowboard? I do not miss time on the snow because I don't have school (on Monday and Thursday) so I go then.

Wyatt Dickerson, No. 1 Tigers hockey

"I'm 17, a senior and have been playing hockey my whole life." Not a bad athlete statement for Wyatt Dickerson, the starting goalie for the Tigers ice hockey team. The team has had a rough season so far — they're winless with one tie after nine games — but Dickerson is still a force in the net, turning away upwards of 20 shots in every game this season. That means there's still plenty of season remaining and the Tigers have plenty of time to turn things around.

My first memory on the ice: The first time I played hockey was on the pond behind Walmart (in Frisco). The freedom and every aspect about it gained my attention, making me fall in love with the sport.

My high school hockey highlight: The memories and friends I've made through the experience. Some of these kids will be beside me my whole life, sharing the love of the game that I do.

My favorite memory off the ice: The memories are still my favorite thing. The stories we exchange and the moments we have every time we come together are special and will be permanent. My team is my family.

If I weren't playing hockey in January…: If I wasn't playing hockey I'd probably be skiing.

Pregame meal: Pasta.

Post-win celebration: My favorite way to celebrate a big win is hanging out with fellow teammates and friends, celebrating the win!

Favorite workout music: Anything that pumps me up. It helps the mentality to come out strong.

My pregame ritual: Every time before a game I juggle. It helps me get into the right mindset, helping my coordination.

My biggest rival: Any other mountain team (Battle Mountain, Aspen, Steamboat) because it always feels special to win against them, proving we're the best team in the mountain range.

Do I still get to ski and snowboard?: I love to ski in my free time but that time is very limited. Hockey is usually six days a week and I also work as well. I rarely get to ski, but when I get out on the slopes to shred it's always a great time with nothing but smiles.

Will Flannagan, Tigers wrestling

Before senior Will Flannagan took the mat against Basalt on Jan. 13, one of his fellow students took the announcers mic and came up with a nickname that just might stick: Will "The Big Thrill" Flannagan.

It's the kind of nickname the 285-pound Flannagan could take to the WWE, but he doesn't need to deal with that circus. He has the skills and drive to go far on the traditional wrestling mat. He pinned the 285-pounder from Hotchkiss, ranked No. 5 in team rankings for 2A schools, and has managed to defeat most opponents in three or fewer rounds. He's currently 21-6 for the season to earn his place as team captain.

Based on a promising start to the season, head coach Pete Baker expects him to make the state championships in Denver Feb. 18-20. Once there he'll go head-to-head against the other biggest, baddest, toughest heavyweights in Colorado. If anyone can do it, it's the Big Thrill.