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Wolves pin their hopes on youth
If second year South Kitsap boys swim coach Leah Gilland feels like shes starting anew this year, thats because she is. Sort of.
Although the Wolves did place eighth at last years Class 4A state meet, only a handful of swimmers return from that team, leaving Gilland with the task of rebuilding.
Yeah, it does feel like I have a brand new team, Gilland said. Im looking forward to having a younger team this year. Im kind of liking the fresh start. There are kids that are new to it and have fresh attitudes and are really looking forward to the swim season. And I really like that.
Gilland rode a small but talented group of seniors to the top 10 finish last year but has a ton of untapped talent to work with this year. And that bodes well, she said.
We have a few kids that are seniors that are in touch with the state capabilities that we had last year and how well we did, Gilland said. I think, for the most part, the whole team may not be in tune with that, but well certainly be shooting for state.
While South teams in the past relied heavily on the short-distance sprints, this years team should be more well-rounded.
Junior Kris Bonar returns, having just missed out on state-qualifying times in three events last year. His performances in the 100-yard backstroke and 50- and 100-yard freestyles early on could be a measuring stick as to how well this team will do.
Senior Bryant Bartlett should be the anchor of the Wolves sprints and relay teams, while freshman Dan DeRego could make some noise this year in the distance events.
I think we might have a little more depth than some other teams, Gilland said. And I think we might be a bigger team than weve had in the past. Im really looking forward to the year and seeing how we do. Im hopeful that we will be a team that hangs right in there against almost anybody.
The Wolves should get a helping hand from their divers this year, something thats been missing in the past. The team is deep and talented there, with Chris Hoffman, Justin Forshaw and Mike Haire.
Others who could push for state-qualifying times include A.J. Melcher and Jared Rank in the butterfly, Tom Gregory and Kyle Hawkins in the 200-yard individual medley and Mike West in the backstroke.
Relay teams, on the other hand, are up the air right now. Thats something the entire squad will have to work on, Gilland said.
Gilland added that she expects this years team to be a better in the dual meets rather than the tournaments, at least to start with. But she feels everything will come together when it counts.
Im real hopeful that even with our youth, we can get strong, fast, Gilland said.
2005-06 South Kitsap boys swimming schedule
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME
Dec. 2 Central Kitsap South Kitsap* 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 Lindbergh South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 8 Bremerton Bremerton 3 p.m.
Dec. 13 Bainbridge South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 15 Gig Harbor Gig Harbor 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 3 Port Angeles South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 5 North Kitsap South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 Olympic Olympic 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 Federal Way South Kitsap 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 Shelton Shelton 3:30 p.m.
*Postponed, will be rescheduled