With most of its top swimmers staying at home, a young Juneau-Douglas High School swimming and diving team travels to Ketchikan for back-to-back meets on Friday and Saturday.
The meets begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Teams from Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka and possibly some of the smaller Southeast schools will be competing.
In order to get some much needed experience for his younger swimmers and divers, head coach John Wray is keeping his more experienced swimmers at home to prepare for next week's trip to Anchorage.
"We're sending a smaller group then have gone in the past," head coach John Wray said. "It's an issue of when we go to Anchorage, they are true meets. We are only allowed two entries for each race and, for the cost to bring people up there, we want them to swim four races. We don't want them to go all that way for one race."
During the regular season in Southeast, with an exception of the Region V meet, four or more entries are allowed in each race which gives more swimmers a chance to compete.
Most of all, this weekend's meet gives Wray and assistant coach Marc Bucat a chance to see how their younger athletes perform in competition.
"We're not worrying about team scores," Wray said. "For some people, it will be their first time in competition this year. We just want to see how they shed up to competition. Also, we're getting our region team going and we can see who can make it there."
In all, 10 freshmen, one sophomore and four seniors will make the trip to Ketchikan. The freshmen include Tom Josephson, Abe Levy, Nichole O'Brien, Q Smyth, Tally Teal, Damien Williams, Hannah Wolf, Austin Rickards. Freshmen Katlyn Bausler and Marinita Coenraad will compete in diving.
Seniors Lizzy Eliason and Kiley Murphy will make the trip along with Joey Fox, who will be the lone sophomore. Seniors Gregory Albrecht and Liz Brooks will compete in the diving event.
"We are looking for personal improvements," Wray said. "They are working really hard and we'll be able to see who can swim with fatigue."
According to Wray, almost everyone on the team is relatively healthy, with the exception of newcomer Michael Kasten, who injured his shoulder.
"A couple of the kids had minor injuries," Wray said. "Michael Kasten's injury is disappointing because he's just trying to get into it."
After this week's meet in Ketchikan and next week's meet in Anchorage, the entire Crimson Bear squad will be reunited for its only home meets of the year, two weeks from now on Oct. 19-20.
From there, the teams will have two weeks until the region meet in Sitka on Nov. 2-3. The state meet is Nov. 9-10 at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
"They are starting to realize that the focus of the season is the first two weeks of November with the region and state meets," Wray said.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.