Wolves hope win changes outlook

South Kitsap swimming coach Dennis Anderson knew his young team would struggle early, especially in dual matches.

And they have.

But Thursday at the SK pool, the Wolves got a much-needed win over North Kitsap, outscoring the Vikings 118-58 and gaining some welcome confidence as well.

“It feels really good to finally get a win,” junior Greg Mercer said. “The meets were starting to not be as rewarding. I mean, we’ve been having good swims, but when you throw in that victory, it really makes it a lot better.

“It’s been tough,” Mercer said. “You want to have upperclassmen and seniors to look up to and have them set the example but, as juniors, we’ve had to step up. It’s been tough.”

Juniors Mercer, Nick Dargel and Corey Smith have taken the leadership role on the Wolves young team, but are still winning the events they should be winning.

Mercer won the 50-yard freestyle and the 100 breaststroke while Dargel took the 100-yard free and placed second in the 200 free. Smith won the 200-yard free and 100-yard backstroke.

“I think all the new ones that are swimming this year, they will feel a lot better,” Dargel said. “Their confidence will go up and they’ll try to do better.

“We just help out everyone when we can,” Dargel said. “If we see their strokes might have a flaw in it, we try to help. A bunch of these guys didn’t know how to do flip turns, so we help them with that as well.”

“Everybody helps everybody out,” Mercer said. “There’s no power struggle.”

Both Dargel and Mercer said newbies Zach Riddle, James Murtha and Chris Mathis have impressed them so far this year.

“We’re doing really well for having as many new people as we do,” Mercer said. “We’ve been pretty close in most of our meets. We’ve only lost by a few points.”

That was nothing new to Anderson but he sees that is about to change.

“We’ve struggled, but the guys are almost in the position where they are going to be scoring,” Anderson said. “They have improved a lot. It was nice to get a win.

“We’re starting to get to a part of our schedule that is a little more win-friendly for us,” Anderson said. “But it was nice to get a win.”

Anderson said Greg Porter, Doug McCarthy and Brandon Cheney are really picking up some slack for the team.

“Cheney has shown exactly what we wanted as that fourth person (on the relay teams),” Anderson said. “And McCarthy has really come around. He’s dropped 10 seconds off his time this week and made district in the 100 fly, and I don’t see any end in sight for him. I don’t know where he’s going to end up, so that’s exciting.

“We’re right about where we should be,” Anderson said. “I’d like to see out top-end guys swim a little faster. I can’t really get a handle on why they aren’t, but they will. They’re probably a little tired.”

The Wolves return to action Jan. 8 at Olympic.

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