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The Juneau-Douglas High School swim and dive teams are back in the water with big expectations for 2010, but the Crimson Bears also are hoping to erase a certain memory from last season.
The boys' team was disqualified in the deciding race of the state swim meet in 2009 after a false start cost the Bears first place in a relay.
But even after losing top swimmers Cody Brunette and Nick Rutecki, Crimson Bears coach Kathrin Millhorn said the boys' team has the depth to get through the Southeast Conference and return to the state meet - and get some revenge.
"The boys have a deep talent pool," she said. "We have a lot of boys who have that experience going to state, and we have several kids that are going to step up their performance this year as well.
"We also have a lot of talent coming up with our sophomores and juniors."
Millhorn said seniors Tyler Mickelson, Evan Norman and Josh Anderson, juniors Nathan Messing, Tatsu Monkman, Cody Schick and Calder Otsea, along with sophomore Jonah Swanson, are names to watch during the upcoming season.
"We expect to win state because we have a really strong team," Norman said. "We had some guys graduate last year that were our big dogs, but us seniors and all the juniors and sophomores are really strong. We'll be able to replace them."
Norman, the boys' captain, said the swimmers are feeling good in the water and at this point in the season, the focus is on spreading the races around so everyone finds the right fit in preparation for state.
"I just think that the boys are going to surprise everybody around the state because everybody expects that we won't have a very strong team since we lost so many seniors," Millhorn said. "But I think we're going to be pretty strong this year."
While Millhorn said the boys may surprise on the statewide stage, she also said big things are expected from a girls' team that returns several of last year's state qualifiers.
"Kerry Barto, Elsa Robinson and Auri Clark are all back, but this year we expect to take a lot more girls with us," Millhorn said. "We have some freshmen who have come up that should shine, and we should see some good things out of Haley Mertz, Addie Gonwa-Ramonda and I'm expecting Cassie Anderson to step up and make state. I also can't imagine Jocelyn Cayce and Talyn Ramos not being able to make it to state as well."
Millhorn said it's all about numbers this year for the girls' team.
"Our plan and hope is that they will take enough swimmers to state to finish in the top three," she said.
Senior girls' captain Katy Goodell said the team is starting to feel good in the water again after missing some time last year.
"The main goal at this point is to do really well at regions and see how many girls can qualify for state, but we want to at least get a relay to state." she said. "I know us senior girls are a little worried after all of us took some time off last year. But we're getting back into it and it should be pretty exciting to see what happens."
Diving coach Hans Marx said there is reason for optimism with his squad as well this season with several divers back.
"I've got five returning from last year so I've got some experience here," he said. "The twins (Samantha and Emily Sharp) are seniors this year, and I've got three new boys this season, also, one of which is also a full-time swimmer.
"I'm also excited about how many boys there are this year - we generally have more girls than boys," he continued. "So these guys have been pushing themselves harder and they're always trying to one-up each other, so that helps get past the fear factor."
The JDHS swim and dive team hits the road this weekend at Craig to open the season.