With a mix of valuable experience and some promising youth, the Butte High swimming teams open the 2012-13 season Friday in Helena.
The meet starts at 5 p.m.
The Bulldogs have 24 swimmers out for boys’ and girls’ teams, and head coach Lynn Shrader is hoping the season ends with an impressive showing Feb. 8-9 at the State meet in Hardin.
The Bulldog girls placed fifth at state last season. The boys finished ninth.
The girls threatened to bring home some State meet hardware, even though Lew Yong Gerbrandt, perhaps the best swimmer in school history, left the team midseason because she graduated early.
“The girls swam really well without her,” Shrader said.
Senior Abigail Wheeler and Adria Bentley are back to anchor the team. Junior Airika Bentley and sophomore Carlee Johnson add State experience for the Bulldog girls.
Shrader said freshman Carlie Dinius is a newcomer to keep an eye on. “I think she’ll add to the team,” the coach said.
“The girls are always so close to the top three (at State),” Shrader said. “I’d love to break into it this year.”
Butte High’s boys have a strong shot at the top three at State, the coach said.
“I would like to see us in the top three,” she said. “It could happen.”
Senior Blaine Barrington, juniors Jack Walker and Caleb Reichhardt and sophomores Keegan Whelan, Gavin Sison and Levin Mullaney are back from looking to build on their State meet experience.
The boys also add a couple of familiar last names with up-and-coming freshmen Jake Bentley and Jacob Wheeler.
The Bulldogs’ lone home meet is next Saturday, Dec. 8, at noon at the Butte YMCA. The Bulldogs practice at the YMCA pool five days a week.