Confidence and concentration

Swimmers, divers compete for a spot at state championships this weekend

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2007

Two years ago, it was about getting into the nightclub.

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Last year, it was about wanting a seat at the dinner table.

On Friday and Saturday, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls swimming and diving team members will try to qualify for next weekend's state championship with solid performances at the Southeast Region Swimming and Diving Championship in Ketchikan.

Or, as Crimson Bears coach John Wray puts it this year, the swimmers and divers are trying to go to the party.

"If you want to make it to the party, you damn well better do something to get invited because you can't just show up because you want to," Wray said.

JDHS swimming and diving

• What: Southeast Conference Swimming and Diving Championships.

• When: Friday and Saturday.

• Where: Ketchikan

• What's at stake: Swimmers and divers will be competing for regional titles and spots at next weekend's state championships.

The criteria for qualifying for the state championships is rather simple. A swimmer can make it by either winning the race or posting one of the top-12 times among the four regional championships in that event. For relay teams, the regional champs and next four fastest teams statewide go. For divers, the top three finishers in each region plus the eight next best scores head off to Anchorage.

At the regional championships, Juneau-Douglas will be competing against Ketchikan, Sitka, Craig and Petersburg for spots at state.

"The two things we've been preaching starting this week is two words - confidence and concentration," Wray said. "They have every reason to feel confident from their past achievements, the talent they have, and the fact that they've worked very hard. That should give them loads of confidence.

"They've proven in the season that if they concentrate on races, good things happen. If they're confident and concentrating, I'll be very happy."

In terms of the team competition, Juneau-Douglas should be considered the favorites to win the boys and girls championships.

The girls, two-time defending state champs, have won 15-consecutive regional titles. Also, the JDHS girls have won 19 of the last 20 regional crowns.

For the boys, JDHS will try to upend two-time defending regional champs Sitka for the title.

"This is very important to me because it'll decide whether I go to state," the Bears' Mircea Brown said. "I'm very excited for this meet."

For some of the Bears' swimmers, this meet represents the culmination for a season's worth of work. How they perform in this meet will determine if the season ends, or if they're going to a big party up in Anchorage next week.

Either way, however, Wray wants his team to go hard and respect the opportunity.

"I hate to sound like a cliche, but it's life," Wray said. "Sometimes you work toward something and you achieve the goal, and sometimes circumstances bite you in the rear. You have to deal with failure and success. I just ask them to be gracious.

"There's a Crimson Bear way and what everyone else does. I don't care what everyone else does. I think our kids do it the right way."

• Contact sports editorTim Nichols at 523-2228 or sports@juneauempire.com.



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