Six of the nine senior girls who fueled three straight state swimming and diving championships for Juneau-Douglas High School will compete in college next year.
Melissa and Sara Bogert, Kristen Jones, and Jenna Rutecki have signed, or will sign within the next few days, National Letters of Intent to swim at NCAA Division I programs.
Sarah Felix and Kimiko "Koko" Urata have signed letters for top Division I synchronized swimming schools.
"Overall, this group of girls collectively was one of the best this state has ever seen," former Crimson Bears head swimming coach John Wray said. "They didn't just beat teams - they dominated them. I feel very privileged to have coached these girls."
Jones, who won the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle at the 2007 Alaska School Activities Association State Swimming Championships, has several offers but is leaning toward Northern Arizona, Wray said. Jones also was a member of the state record-setting 200 medley relay team and the winning 400 freestyle relay teams.
The incredible Bogert twins will go separate ways next year. Melissa Bogert, who holds a 4.0 grade point average, will head to Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., with athletic and academic scholarships. She placed second in both the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly at last year's state meet.
Sara Bogert, who claimed individual 2007 state titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, will attend Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Sara Bogert also was a member of the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.
"If you look at the last nine to 10 years of the Women's NCAA D-I Championships, three conferences continue to dominate year in, year out, specifically the Pac-10, Big Ten and the SEC," Wray said. "If you want to swim and have the opportunity to attend schools in those conferences, you grab it."
Rutecki has two strong options - Northern Arizona and University of Arkansas Little Rock. Rutecki placed fourth in the 100 backstroke, sixth in the 50 freestyle and was the backstroke leg of the record relay team at the state meet.
The celebrated synchronized swimming tandem of Felix and Urata round the senior group that will be competing collegiately next year.
Felix will attend University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, while Urata will compete as a Stanford Cardinal. Stanford is the defending national champ in synchronized swimming and Incarnate Word placed third.
The three senior girls choosing not to swim in college include Amber Kelly, MacKenzie Allison and Lia Heifetz.
Kelly, who finished fourth in 200 freestyle, third in 100 butterfly and as a member of the winning 400 freestyle relay team, is joining the Navy. MacKenzie Allison anticipates studying pre-med at the University of South Carolina while Lia Heifetz has academic scholarship offers from Oregon and Lewis and Clark. Heifetz was second in the 100 breaststroke and the final member of the winning 200 medley relay team.
"I could not be more proud of all nine of these young ladies. A number of them started swimming with Glacier Swim Club as 8- and 9-year- olds," Wray said. "This is a success story for the club, JDHS and the Juneau community as a whole. With all the news about drop-out rates and other negatives, this group shows there are kids on the other end who do achieve. I have no doubt that the next chapter the group writes will be just as successful."
Jeff Kasper is a freelance writer and former Empire sportswriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.