Only two seniors are listed on the roster, and more than half of the swimmers are freshmen or sophomores, but among them are six returning state qualifiers. Sophomores Edward Oursler, Nic Tracy, Quin Wetzel and Jakob Bowers all competed in the state meet along with junior Jared LaPierre and senior Kyle Anderson.
Other returnees from last year’s team are sophomores Jake Magill, a near qualifier in diving, and Garrett Hall, as well as junior Matt Riedhammer.
Newcomers to the team include three freshmen, Ben Wetzel, Alex Bjornestad and Billy Baker. Sophomore Matt Abraham also is out for the first time as are juniors Zack Kienlen and Dewey Schwahn, who came out for practice just this week. Senior Telton Pederson, who swam as a freshman, is also on the roster.
Assistant Coach Jerry Rodriguez said the roster has grown since practice started, and rumors are that others are thinking of joining the team.
Despite the team’s youth and the newcomers, Rodriguez said the team has potential. Anderson, Bowers, LaPierre, Tracy and Quin Wetzel all swam in the consolation finals at last year’s state meet. Several swimmers have USA swimming experience, and there are some good athletes among the newcomers.
“If they are good athletes, we can make them swimmers,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also said the team will benefit this year from more practice time. Last year, they were unable to swim in the mornings, but this year the team will be able to add morning practices at the pool. In addition, they will have dryland workouts two mornings a week, and Rodriguez believes that will help.
One concern expressed by Rodriguez and head coach Stephanie Warren is the schedule, which includes only two dual meets, one with Lander, another at Buffalo, and only three meets in their home pool.
“They always swim better in dual meets,” Warren said.
The schedule includes three triangular meets with Cody and Worland, one in each town, and one quadrangular meet in Cody with Riverton, Lander. The rest of their meets will be larger meets, including the traditional Gene Dozah meet in January and the Gillette Invitational, which includes most of the 4A schools in the state at the end of the regular season.
Lander is again expected to dominate the 3A swimming.
The team opens this weekend at the Lander relays on Saturday, and will swim at home in a dual with Lander before the winter break.
Rodriguez said he is looking forward to watching the swimmers develop during the season.
“It will be exciting to watch them,” Rodriguez said.
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