High school pools are churning with activity as the 2013-14 boys’ swimming and diving season begins.
Aquatics aficionados need to look no further than Battle Creek’s pools to find everything from former state champions working to defend state titles to rookies learning the basics of the sport.
Lakeview is still the team to beat in town after winning its 22nd consecutive All-City title last year. The Spartans look to be in good shape to repeat, returning several key members from last year’s team that went 12-0 in dual meets, won a Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East Division championship and finished in 10th place at the Division 2 state meet.
The Spartans expect a big year from John Vann, who won a state championship in the 100 butterfly and was also All-State in the 200 freestyle as a sophomore. Also leading the way for Lakeview will be senior Jacob Budd (All-State diving), sophomore Scott Carstens (All-State 100 backstroke) and AJ Cariuty (four top-20 finishes at last year’s State Meet).
Marshall will look to push Lakeview with the return of several key performers and the addition of some new talent. The Redhawks finished in second place, behind Lakeview, in the SMAC East standings last year. Junior diver Henry Swett has won back-to-back Division 3 state championships and is a crucial element to the Redhawks’ success this season. A group of talented freshmen, along with the addition of swimmers from Albion could help Marshall reach new heights this season.
A young group of swimmers and a new diving team will look to help Harper Creek improve on its 18th place finish at last year’s Division 3 State Finals. The Beavers lost All-State swimmer Clark Sanford to graduation, but will rely on senior captains Jerrod Lepper, Luke Lightcap and Jeff Mann to pick up the slack.
Battle Creek Central welcomes 17 first-year swimmers to its team. With 31 members on this year’s squad, the Bearcats’ participation numbers are heading in the right direction (there were 24 members on last year’s team and 11 the year before). B.C. Central is mostly inexperienced, but will try to improve on its 1-10 record from last season with some help from a handful of St. Philip and Pennfield swimmers, who co-op with the Bearcats.
Battle Creek Central
Coach: Rob Brownell (ninth season)
2012-13 record: 1-10 (0-5 SMAC East)
Top returners: Austin Douglas, sr. (Pennfield); John Marsden, sr. (St. Philip); Victor Conley, sr.; Travis Face, jr.; Jahkeem Stone, jr.; Luke Saye, jr. (St Philip); Terry Reige, jr.; Daelon Trigg, jr; Deevon Carmouche, jr.; Jacob Bruce, jr.; Nicholas Insley, so.; Devonte Hillman, so.; Ben Unger, so. (St Philip); Blake Gibson, so.
Outlook: “We are still a young team with many second-year juniors. With 31 kids on the roster (17 first-year swimmers), we will still be working on getting better every day,” said Brownell. “We have many new swimmers from Pennfield and some talented returners from St. Philip to add to our Central returners and ‘newbies.’ We will see where we end up, but it looks like our talent pool is getting better, and we are excited about that.”
Coach: Devin Hurst (second season)
Last year: 2-3 (fourth place in SMAC East)
Top returners: Evan Galloway, Jerrod Lepper, Luke Lightcap, Jeff Mann, Scott Scherer, Alex Ziegler
Outlook: “We’re trying to improve our conference finish from last year. While the team is young, the senior leadership from captains Lepper, Lightcap, and Mann, along with a new diving squad, will help boost the team,” Hurst said. “Watch out for Lepper in the fly, IM and freestyle; Lightcap in the IM and 50 free; Ziegler in the 200 and 500 free; and Mann in the IM, freestyle, and breaststroke.”
Coach: Kyle Lott (12th season)
Last year: 12-0 (first place in SMAC East); 10th place at MHSAA Division 2 state meet
Top Returners: John Vann, jr. (state champion in butterfly and All-State 200 free); Jacob Budd, sr. (All-State diving); A.J. Caruity, sr; Scott Carstens, so. (All-State 100 backstroke); Tabor Smyth, so.; Sam Myers, so.; Adam Waltman, so.; Braden Shanks, so.; Gavin Marlowe, so.; Brendon Beecham, so.
Outlook: “We have a young but experienced group. Our schedule will be very challenging this year, but I feel our boys have grown tremendously (physically and mentally) since last March, and I think they will have fun competing against some of the best teams in the state,” Lott said. “Although we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, I am looking forward to seeing this team make a run at a top 10 finish at this year’s State Championships.
Coach: Dave Karns (14th season)
Last year: 4-1 SMAC East (second place in conference)
Top returners: Henry Swett, jr. (two-time state champion diving); Brice Banfield, sr.; Jack Herman, sr.; Matthew Howard, sr.; Tyler MacFarland, sr.; Cam Ragan, sr.; Kyle Weck, sr.; Levi Graves, jr.; Josh Turner, jr.; Parker Cruz, sr.; Kenneth Fry, sr.; Tim Stillson, sr.; Eli Arnold, jr.; Ben Elyea, jr.; Colin Henson, jr.; Matt Cole, so.; Cam Foster, so.; Jackson Friend, so.; Jordan Gillett, so.; Seb Loonen, so.; Weston Quigley, so.; Bryar Thelen , so.; Jacob Trumbull, so.; RJ Stone, sr. (Albion transfer); Eron Hill, so. (Albion transfer); Jontay Wallace II, so. (Albion transfer)
Outlook: “I am looking forward to a season of growth and development. Our team is large (38 members), but has a lot of new faces,” said Karns. “We will work hard to mesh our new athletes with our returning athletes and expect to compete and finish towards the top of the SMAC East. We will be working toward sending as many athletes to the state meet as possible with the focus of swimming and diving on both Friday and Saturday at the state meet.”