Swim coach Scott Newell calls it “a little secret happening about 20 minutes north of the rest of the sports world.”
In Anthem, at Boulder Creek, the boys team is building talent and depth and formidable relays that may get Phoenix Brophy Prep’s attention at the Division I championships at Mesa Skyline Aquatics Center on Nov. 6 and 7.
Brophy Prep still has a firm grasp of its state championships streak that began in 1988. It should capture a 28th consecutive state championship and 38th overall boys crown this season.
But it’s good to see a school trying to catch a dynasty that appears unbreakable. The growth of the Anthem Dolphins, a club program, has been key.
Last week, Boulder Creek won the West Valley Invitational. It has some of the state’s fastest relays.
“Our boys 200 and 400 (freestyle) relays could push Brophy Prep this year,” Newell said.
Newell also is excited about his girls team, which is led by Claire Grover, who is ranked first in the 50-yard freestyle, second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 100 free. The girls 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams have a chance to medal at state, Newel believes.
Next year, the boys team should be even stronger with 12 juniors among Boulder Creek’s top swimmers now. Anderson Cline, Dakota Rubie and Cooper Salmen are all juniors looking to reach the finals of their events at state.
Boulder Creek has qualified 11 boys and 11 girls for the state meet.
“Three years ago, we had a huge group of freshman boys and they have all stuck with it,” said Newell, who is in his fourth year leading the Boulder Creek program. “The girls have been improving the last few seasons, and last year, we had two girls move on to NCAA Division I programs.
“We have a great relationship between the high school and the community center, and I run the swim programs from beginner summer team to age-group club kids to our upper level club swimmers and the high school team. So it is a little different than many of the others, where you have a mix of swimmers from other club teams swimming with a high school coach they don’t normally swim with.”
Brophy coach Pat O’Neill said that Boulder Creek is making waves, but he would put its boys team on the same level as Scottsdale Chaparral and Phoenix Horizon now, not quite at the second tier group that includes Mesa Mountain View and Phoenix Desert Vista.
“But definitely top five in the state,” O’Neill said about Boulder Creek.
Newell’s group are great students who push each other.
“We also have an amazing group of coaches and volunteers that help our team and community,” Newell said.
Reach Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert. Listen to the Which Wich High School Football Preview Show every Friday from 6-7 p.m., on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 with Dan Manucci and Richard Obert.