Sports

Young, deep and talented

A few years ago, South Kitsap swim coach Dennis Anderson was watching some seventh graders swim in a Puget Sound Swim Club meet and marveled at the potential.

That group is now joining a group that placed 18th at state last year to give Anderson one of the strongest teams in years at South.

“What we lost, we gained right back,” Anderson said. “And we’re even a little bit faster.”

Of course, all talk of the Wolves begins with sophomore Madison Rousell, who placed seventh at state in the 50-yard freestyle last year and is back and faster than ever.

Rousell joins Rachel Hubner and Megan Finnie as holdovers from last year’s state qualifiers.

Rousell has already posted a time just off the state qualifying time in the 50 free and the season just got under way Thursday as the Wolves were visiting Shelton.

“That’s pretty encouraging,” Anderson said, “because I don’t think she was at that point last year. So I think if we’re starting out with her being a little bit better, she has to have high expectations for herself in what she wants to accomplish this year. And we’re going to ride along with her.”

Rousell will go in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, may try her hand at the 200 free and will see time at the 100-yard backstroke and has been shifted to swim the backstroke portion of the 200 medley relay this year, having already posted a faster time in that slot than anyone did all of last year.

“I want to get qualified in as many events as I can this year,” Rousell said. “I think I can get in in the 200; I may not swim it at state but I want to see if I can get in.

Rousell said she has total confidence in moving to the backstroke as part of the medley relay, saying it is her best stroke behind the freestyle.

Anderson said Rousell should challenge many schools records this year, including the 50 free and 100 back.

“She can pretty much do everything,” Anderson said. “I mean, there’s not much she can’t do.”

But she can’t do everything alone — nor will she have to with Hubner and Finnie back, as well as Dana Derego and new group of incoming freshmen.

Hubner returns in the butterfly, where she was a state qualifier last year and will swim the individual medley relay and also serves as one of the team’s captains.

“We have so much depth this year, which is something we’ve been lacking,” Hubner said. “We have so many freshmen coming in this year that are so good.”

Hubner said the number of district and state qualifiers will go up this year with the addition of the incoming freshman.

Finnie returns as the team’s main distance swimmer, concentrating on the 500 free, an event she qualified for state in last year. But she will also see work at the 200 free.

“She’s got a shot at the 200 this year,” Anderson said. “She has a hard time at the shorter distances — her best event is the mile. Coming back down to the 500 is OK, but anything under that is a little tough for her because she’s not a sprinter. But I can see her getting in at the 200.”

Derego, also a team captain, is the team’s main breaststroker and will be part of the 200 medley relay as well.

“This year, I’m swimming high school and club at the same time,” Derego said. “So hopefully I can get my times down.”

Rousell, Hubner and Finnie all except to make it back to state while Derego, who was an alternate last year, should join them.

But the Wolves are loaded with young talent as well, including freshmen Helen Tripple, who has already posted some quick times in the 50 free and Kate Hubner, a breaststroke specialist who is also knocking on the door of the state qualifying time.

Emily Blankenship, Desiree Riemers and Stephanie Pierson will also be counted on as well as others.

“It’s weird to have such a young team,” Anderson said. “I usually have a nicer mix but our load is freshman-sophomore.”

Freshman Alyssa Drevniak will join the team as a diver. Drevniak is a gymnast who Anderson said has made the transfer over to diving very well.

“We’re working really hard,” Anderson said. “We’re out to get some numbers back to state.”

Anderson said Gig Harbor will be one of the tougher teams in the league but expects his squad to be right there in the end.

“We look pretty strong in our league,” Anderson said. “We want it like the old days, looking at 20 girls qualifying for districts and getting 10-12 girls to state. So far, it’s been very encouraging.”

Date Opponent Site Time

Sept. 11 Spartan Relays Bainbridge Noon

Sept. 14 Bainbridge South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 Central Kitsap South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 Bremerton Bremerton 3 p.m.

Sept. 30 Gig Harbor Gig Harbor 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 Falcon Relays Foss 6 p.m.

Oct. 7 Port Angeles South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 14 North Kitsap South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 16 Curtis South Kitsap 2 p.m.

Oct. 19 Olympic Olympic 3:30 p.m.

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