By Bill Foley
Butte High’s swimming team is down in numbers, but high on talent on the eve of the 2018-19 season.
Bulldog coach Lynn Shrader’s team lost 23 seniors from last year, bringing the number to 30 swimmers.
“Thirty is not bad,” Shrader said. “But I had 46 last year.”
“I have some good swimmers,” Shrader said. “I am hoping that there will be some good swims this week and next.”
The Bulldogs open the season Friday. Once again Butte High hosts the Helena Dual, racing against Helena High and Helena Capital. That meet starts at 4 p.m. at the Butte Family YMCA.
Next Saturday, the YMCA will set the scene for the Butte Invitational. Butte High will also host a meet on Jan. 19.
The Bulldog lineup includes eight seniors and six swimmers with State meet experience.
All-American Catherine Russo, of course, highlights the Bulldog roster. The junior already has four individual State gold medals — the most possible through two seasons. She set a pair of records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly while winning at State last year.
On the boys’ side, senior Zach Johnson is back to lead the Bulldogs. He was an All-State swimmer in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races last season.
Seniors Devin Amtmann and Lexie Kautzman and sophomore Anna Trudnowski return after a trip to State for the Bulldog girls last season.
Others competing for the Bulldog girls are seniors Taylor Andrews, Katie Clague and Emily Kelly, juniors Maire Ingersoll and Danika Murphy, sophomores Lizzy Christiaens, Kallie Hossack, Lyndsi Lyons, Tori Matteson, Jada Osborne, Ella Prigge and Ida Real, and freshmen Annie Coyne, Jessie Cullens, Heaven Jarvis, Isabel Russo and Carley Trefts.
Sophomore Evan Zundel brings State experience to the Bulldog boys’ line up, which gets a boost from the addition of Maxwell and Thad Holdsworth. The brothers moved to town with swimming experience from Utah. Maxwell is a junior, while Thad is a freshman.
Coby Cashell and Kellen Lean join Johnson in the senior class for the Butte High boys. Others swimming for the Butte High boys’ are junior Tanner Shadow, sophomore Colby Reagan, and freshman JC Connole.
“I am looking forward to seeing how our new swimmers and our returning swimmers swim on Friday,” Shrader said. “They have been working hard already.”
Friday’s meet is the first of seven leading up to the State meet, which is Feb. 8-9 in Bozeman.