Experience pushes team ahead

School state qualifiying swimmers projected to boost scores, break school records


Zia Kelly

Sophomore Stephen Johnson warms up during Saturday morning practice on Dec. 5. The team began its season with a second place finish at the Free State quad on Dec. 2.

By Colton Lovelace

Anytime a varsity team returns multiple state qualifiers they’re posed to have a successful season, and for the boys swimming and diving squad, that’s exactly the case.

Returning state swimmers include sophomores Stephen Johnson, Alex Heckman and Isaac Springe, junior Patrick Oblon, and seniors Chase Odgers, Jack Ryan, Hunter Boehle, Matt Ramaley and Izaiah Bowie. The team finished 11th at the State meet last year and they’ll be fighting for a strong performance at this year’s competitions.

“This year the team is going to be really good, better than last year,” Johnson said. “We will keep improving. The expectations we have are we all should probably drop our times and a lot of us should go to state and do pretty good there.”

Having a team with that many returnees means expectations skyrocket, which is the case for the squad this year.

“With six seniors we obviously have a lot of experience,” coach Kent McDonald said. “We only lost one swimmer who placed at state last year, so we have a team that knows what to expect this season,”

Last season the team’s scores were bolstered by young talent who qualified for State their freshman year, including Johnson who placed at State in .       

“We have three sophomores who swim year round and will score high at all of our meets this year,” McDonald said.  “Izaiah also placed high at State last  year in diving and I expect big things from him.”

Last year, Johnson placed fourth in the 200 freestyle and second in the 500 freestyle at League and placed sixth in the 200 freestyle and second in the 500 Free at State. He should have another great year this year.

“Me and my team have all gotten ready for this point by working hard going to all the practices, or as many as we could make,” Johnson said. “I’m really excited for the season to start because it’s going to be a good season for the whole team.”   

To medal at State, McDonald said his senior class will need to make strides during the regular season to lead the team into qualifiers.

“We are going to need others like Matt Ramaley, Jack Ryan, Elliott Abromeit, Patrick Oblon and Hunter Boehle to step up and compete well for us if we are going to have a successful season,” he said.

The only experienced diver in the program, senior Izaiah Bowie, is also back and looks to do even better this year after last year when he qualified for and competed in state.

“I really just want to get first in state. I wouldn’t be disappointed, but I would just think to myself I could have tried harder. But if I don’t make it then I don’t make it, no big deal,” Bowie said.

Bowie also agreed the team has great season ahead.

“I think we will do pretty well, hopefully we get top three in state,” he said. “Last year we got eleventh, but if we can make it up to top three that would be pretty cool. For sure, for sure [If the team could make it to state]. There’s no way we won’t.”

All around, expectations are high, as many swimmers look to improve and compete at higher levels.

“Several of our guys are looking at school records this year, both in individual and relay events, so there is a lot of excitement on the team to see what we can do,” McDonald said.

McDonald expects them to better than last year, and hopes to end up getting more swimmers to place at State as well.

“I expect everyone to get better, whether they are diving or swimming,” he said. “I expect to place higher at League [5th last year] and State [11th last year] than last year. I’m looking forward to having all of our swimmers and divers improve as well as the team place higher at the League and state championships.