In her seventh year as Butte High’s swimming coach, Lynn Shrader finds herself in unfamiliar territory.
Her boys’ squad enters the season as the team’s best hope of capturing some hardwood at the state tournament.
“All the boys that placed last year are back,” Shrader said. “That is really big. I am expecting some good things from our boys.”
The Bulldogs will hit the water for the first time of the 2013-14 season Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Helena.
Butte High, though, won’t be at full strength the first time out the gate.
Junior Keegan Whelan, Butte High’s top swimmer a year ago, will be in Washington state for a major meet. The team will also miss several swimmers who will compete in the speech and debate meet this weekend.
Swimming for Butte High’s boys the first time out are senior Caleb Reichardt, sophomores Jake Bentley and Jacob Wheeler and freshman Austin Ferry.
Shrader said her team will be at full strength for Butte High’s home meet, which is Saturday, Dec. 14.
Whelan, junior Gavin Sison, Bentley and Wheeler are the core members of the Bulldog team.
The four teamed to place fourth in the 200-yard medley relay and sixth in the 400 freestyle relay at state last year. Whelan also placed second in the 100 breast stroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley.
Bentley placed fifth in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 200 freestyle, while Wheeler took sixth in the 100 back stroke and ninth in the 200 individual medley. Sisson took home a 10th place in the 100 backstroke.
Seniors Chad Hicks, Trison Staley and Jack Walker and junior Levin Mullaney give the Bulldogs solid depth.
“I really hope the boys can place in the top three,” Shrader said of the state tournament, which just so happens to be at the Butte Family YMCA this year.
Butte High has some key returning girl swimmers, too.
Junior Carlee Johnson is back after a solid sophomore season that saw her place 11thin the 100 backstroke at state. Along with senior Airika Bentley, Johnson was also on the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. Both those teams took seventh at state.
Seniors Afton Ferry and Aidan Amtmann and junior Haley Hildreth also return for the Bulldogs. They made up three fourths of the 200 freestyle relay team that placed 11th at state.
Also swimming for Butte High are senior Tabitha Zundel, junior Marie Steiger, sophomores Hannah Amtmann, Carlie Dinius and Caramia Kohler and freshmen Mickenzie Cantwell, Brityn Garret and Emmalee Kohler.
Shrader, who is assisted by Ron Johnson, said she is pleased with her girls heading into the first meet.
“They’ve been working so hard,” she said. “They have upped the intensity of the workouts, and we couldn’t be more happy.”