The Panthers splash into the 2019-20 swimming and diving season this Friday with a home triangular against Cody and Worland at the Powell Aquatic Center. The Panthers lost three seniors to …
The Panthers splash into the 2019-20 swimming and diving season this Friday with a home triangular against Cody and Worland at the Powell Aquatic Center. The Panthers lost three seniors to graduation, but still managed to match last year’s team total of 19 swimmers.
The squad remains young, with seven sophomores and six freshmen in the pool this year.
“We may still be a young team, but we are a talented team,” said head coach Stephanie Warren. “We have some great returning swimmers and divers and we can’t wait to see what they will do this season.”
Finishing in a very respectable fourth place out of 12 teams at last year’s 3A state meet in Gillette, the Panthers are itching to climb higher on the podium this season when Laramie hosts the state meet in February.
The team brings some depth back to the pool this year.
Last year’s lone state champion for Powell in the 100 backstroke, Richard Spann, returns to the pool as a senior and will provide leadership to the team.
Fellow seniors Bryce Hogen, Ben Cannizzaro and Jay Cox are looking to close out their senior years on a positive note. Last season, Powell had 15 of the team’s 19 athletes qualify for state in at least one event; most of those athletes are back to compete again this year.
The team was plagued by sickness last year throughout the season and many swimmers were not able to perform at their top potential.
“We are hoping that Jay [Cox] has an awesome senior year. He is a great kid and role model for the team. He and Ben Cannizzaro have done a nice job setting examples and leading the team as they need to,” said Warren. “Jay was so sick last year and we hope he stays healthy and can finish out his senior year like he needs to.”
The Panthers will have four solid divers this year. Finishing second at last year’s state meet, Hogen will lead the charge on the diving board with state qualifiers Cole Frank and Ben Hawley returning to compete as sophomores. Freshman Ashtin Prentiss will also compete in diving.
Spann and Prentiss are both Rocky Mountain High School students; they’ll be joined by freshman Nathan Fuller in making the commute from Cowley each day to practice and compete as Panthers. Both Fuller and Prentiss have USA and middle school swimming and diving experience.
Along with head coach Warren, the Panthers are being led by assistant coaches Rob Gorycki and Jerry Rodriguez. Gorycki is back for his third year of coaching the Panthers and brings a great deal of swimming knowledge and background with him.
“Every year we work together and we reflect on what changes could be made to help the team grow in strength and skill,” Warren said.
Joining the team in practice once a week, Rodriguez will focus the team’s attention on fine tuning stroke technique. Rodriguez has been a USA swimming coach for 25 years and has been a coach to many of Powell’s swimmers since they first entered the water at a young age.
“He has a wealth of knowledge and we are grateful he is willing to continue to extend his knowledge and work with Rob [Gorycki] and I to help our swimmers get the best swim experience they can,” Warren said. “We want the swimmers to have the best experience possible and working together with other coaches is one way we can do that.”
With state qualifying time standards set a little faster this year, the team will have its work cut out for them.
“We expect some great things from the ones who qualified last year as well as the ones that were so close to qualifying,” Warren said. “All of the qualifying times did get faster, but we will prepare them for that the best we can.”
The Panthers first swim meet of the season is Friday at 5 p.m. at the Powell Aquatic Center against Cody and Worland. The Panthers travel to Cody Saturday in a dual versus the Broncs, beginning at 10 a.m.