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Fall practices begin

Lady Panther swim coach Luke Robertson consults with Bianca Larson during the team’s Monday practice. Larson is one of a number of freshmen who has turned out this year, and Robertson will have 31 swimmers in the water this season. Lady Panther swim coach Luke Robertson consults with Bianca Larson during the team’s Monday practice. Larson is one of a number of freshmen who has turned out this year, and Robertson will have 31 swimmers in the water this season. Tribune photo by Don Amend

More than 200 student-athletes turn out

Fall sports season began for the 2011-2012 school year at Powell High School on Monday with roughly 200 student-athletes showing for practice in the activity of their choice. That figure appeared consistent with previous fall participation numbers at the school.

As with every year, there were slight fluctuations with numbers depending on specific activities. For Panther cross country coach Cliff Boos, who brought home a 3A state title on the girls’ side and a third-place finish in 3A on the boys’ side, a total of 12 cross country runners greeted him to his first morning practice.

“We lost a big senior class of boys,” said Boos. “I see some kids here that we weren’t sure would come out though, so I’m happy to see that.”

Boos also noted at least three runners not at Monday’s first practice were expected to show later in the week, bringing the team roster up to 15. That figure was down slightly from the 20 runners greeting Boos the previous fall.

Numbers were also slightly down at the tennis courts, where head coach Ray Bieber had 29 athletes — 12 boys and 17 girls — report on opening day. Like cross country, that number was about five athletes fewer than the previous year.

“I wish we’d had a few more come out,” Bieber said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Panthers’ golf team had 16 players report to the Powell Golf Club for practice. Twelve boys will vie for the five varsity spots on Powell’s roster as the team returns from a fifth-place finish at state last season. As an added bonus, the Panthers will field a girls’ team this fall for the first time in years after four female linksters showed for practice.

At the Powell Aquatic Center, a total of 31 swimmers jumped in the pool to prepare for competition this fall. That made for a more crowded swimming environment, something the program had best get accustomed to considering that only two of those swimmers are entering their senior seasons.

Things were also a little more crowded at the Panthers’ practice field for head football coach Jim Stringer. While the roster is still in a state of flux, Stringer said he expects his final number to approach 65 players this season, an increase of about 10 from the previous fall.

“We’ve still got some kids moving into the district that want to play and some that haven’t gotten their physicals yet,” said Stringer. “I expect when everything settles that we’ll be around 65.”

On the girls’ side, volleyball remained the most popular fall sport. Head coach Cindi Smith had a crowd of 33 girls assembled in the gym as practices began.

Fall competition for the Panther golf team begins today (Thursday). Most other teams hold their first official performances the following week, although Panther football will wait until September’s game against Riverton to play their first contest that actually counts in the win-loss column.

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