Swimming: Girls are green but boys are going for gold

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

With three state place-winners returning from last year’s state runner-up boys swimming squad, and a bigger-than-usual turnout for the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Sweet Home Coach Doug Peargin is looking forward to seeing his “kids” get in the water.

At the end of last week Peargin, who is beginning his 34th season as swim coach, had 38 swimmers on the roster after a week of practice, 21 of them boys.

Though he’s had a good girls turnout, he said, the team will be relatively inexperienced, with no returning state placewinners.

“The girls are pretty lean,” he said.

Back for the girls from last year are seven varsity letter winners: seniors Tiffany Traeger, Katie Kinney, Norajean Lemar, Faith Helfrich and Laura Gourley and sophomores Niccole Simmonds and Sami Webb.

Webb was the only underclassmen to qualify for state last year, but did not make the finals.

On the boys side, though, Sweet Home welcomes back three juniors who placed at state: 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke champion Jayce Calhoon and quadruple second-place finisher Kieran Schaefer, along with Michael Simmonds, who finished fifth in the 200 IM.

Also back are varsity letter winners Rob Callagan, David Worthen and Sebas Mauer, all seniors. Callagan helped the 400 freestyle relay team, which also included Simonds and Calhoon, to win a state championship last season.

The team has benefited from an influx of water polo players and a few cross-country runners, Peargin said.

New to swimming from this fall’s water polo squad are Brandon Courteau, Alex Stupin, Derek Jaques, Cory Martin and Holden Green, who played most of the season with the Huskies.

Peargin said he expects the polo players will be a lot faster in the pool after spending a season on the swim team.

From the girls water polo team are sophomore Cheryl Wilson and freshman Katie Turner.

From the girls cross-country team is senior Louise Wilcox while juniors Byron Sanders and Dakotah Keys, both cross-country varsity runners, are giving the pool a try.

Also back from last year’s junior varsity are girls Savana McCalister, Alyssa Holder and Sylvia Milburn. Newcomers Kelika Kauniaupio, Megan Sanderson, Katie Maas and Christina Lugo round out the team.

On the boys side the rest of the newcomers are Justin Wales, David Buck, Brehk Veitenheimer, Jonathan VanPatten, Kyle Lewis, Zachary Pearce, Don Rockstead and Bryce Roberts.

“There are some athletes in there that haven’t swum before but when it’s time for dinner they come to the table,” said Peargin, who has help this year from assistants Bruce West and Tia Sitton.

The good news is that most of the rookies have “hung in there pretty good,” he said.

“Of course, the kids who have been out for cross-country know what it is to hurt,” Peargin said. “It’s not a big deal to them.”

The Huskies compete in what Peargin said is “one of the tougher districts in our state.”

Marist’s girls are defending state champions and they are “loaded” again this year.

He said that when the preseason rankings come out, probably later this week, he expects Marist and Central to be ranked in the top 10, along with Sweet Home, on the boys side.

“If you get through our district, you have a real good chance of placing at state,” Peargin said.

How successful Sweet Home will be “depends on how healthy we stay, on grades, and how hard the kids work,” he said.

Peargin said he will have a better idea of where the Huskies stand after they compete in a non-scoring all-relays meet at Philomath on Dec. 4.

“The only problem we have at the present time is we have so many people I don’t know how we can get them all into meets,” he said, noting that teams are limited in how many swimmers they can put in each event.

“It’s a fun crew,” he said. “Most of the kids have been out for athletics and realize what it’s all about. This group of kids is as easy to work with as any I’ve had in 20 years. They listen to instructions. They’re trying. It’s been sweet so far.”