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PHS boys’ swim team raring to make a big splash

Seth Fuller, a sophomore from Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley, practices his butterfly stroke during Tuesday night’s practice. Seth Fuller, a sophomore from Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley, practices his butterfly stroke during Tuesday night’s practice. Tribune photo by Dante Geoffrey

The goal of placing higher at 3A swim meets is the objective of both Powell High School swim team coaches, and it would appear the Panther boys are up for the challenge.

“I think we’re going to have one of the fastest teams in the history of Powell in a long time,” said PHS head coach Stephanie Warren.

The Panthers will open the season by traveling to Lander Valley High School to take on the Lander Tigers at 4 p.m. Friday.

The next day, PHS will host the Tigers in Powell at 10 a.m.

The Tigers are a long-running 3A frontrunner, said Jerry Rodriguez, PHS assistant swim coach. Lander has taken the state swim title 19 of the last 20 years.

“They’ll be the leader, because they have the biggest team,” Rodriguez said.

The Tigers are the ones to beat again this year, Warren said.

Last year, 16 Panthers qualified for state, versus 23 Tigers qualifying. All of the Tigers earned points, Rodriguez said.

Warren said she is confident the Powell boys will have a good season this year.

Senior Edward Oursler looks solid for the butterfly stroke, Rodriguez said.

Oursler plans to improve his breaststroke this season, but he is versatile and can swim in all events, Warren said.

Oursler, who has been a USA swimmer since age 5, motivates the other boys, Rodriguez said.

Seniors Quin Wetzel and Jake MaGill both qualified for diving at the 2012-13 state meet, which took place Feb. 22-23. Freshmen Joe Kuntz and Garret Henderson also will be diving this season, Warren said.    

The guys are going to diving camp over the Christmas break, Rodriguez said.

Wetzel also hopes to qualify for all eight individual swimming events at state this season. Last season, he qualified for seven individual events, Warren said.

Sophomore Seth Fuller and Tyson Wages each qualified for two state events last season, and Warren said she expects them both to qualify for more state events this season.

Senior Nic Tracy took third in the 100 backstroke at state. Junior Billy Baker took fourth in the same event, and Junior Alex Bjornestad took eighth at state in the 100 backstroke, Warren said.

Senior Jakob Bowers took sixth in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly at state, Warren said.

Junior Ben Wetzel placed fourth at state in the 500 freestyle. With a time of 5:13.44, he earned his place on the PHS Hall of Fame board for Powell’s fastest 500 freestyle swimmer, Warren said.

Ben Wetzel should do well in the 200 and 500 this year, Rodriguez said.

Sophomore Josh Riedhammer and senior Trevor Zickefoose are also returning, Warren said.

Senior Dan Liggett didn’t make the semi-finals last season. Liggett is home-schooled, but goes out for the swim team, and they are counting on him.

“He’ll be helping us out, especially in the relays,” Warren said.

The team will endeavor to improve its 200 and 400 relay teams, Rodriguez said. Warren said she anticipates a strong showing by the relay teams.

Rodriguez said five of his high school boys started USA at a young age, so he is hoping they will perform well this season.

Succeeding in competitive swimming demands lots of preparation in the pool. Five days per week, morning and night, Panthers are at swim practice, building their strength, Rodriguez said.

The Panthers will spend considerable time on the road this season. The team hosts only four meets at home, Rodriguez said.

Still, the guys are looking good.

“I think we’re going to have a good season,” Warren said.

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