Prep Swimming Season Previews
Last year: Boys Gila Valley Region Champions; Girls GVR runners-up; 10th place at 5A-II Boys State Meet; 20th place at 5A-II Girls State Meet.
Top returners: Jake Stiffler, breaststroke; Ryan Keough, breaststroke; Andrew Russell-Cheung, breaststroke; John Smith, diving; Jesse Kaba, breaststroke, individual medley; Maggie McClure, diving.
Key newcomers: Danny Russell-Cheung, freshman; Sara Russell-Cheung, freshman; Anna Gould, freshman.
Coach Richard McClure's comments: “We're really solid in the middle with a lot of great kids that were almost state (qualifiers) … We're just really thick. I'm sending five, six kids to the block for each event. So it's exciting that way.”
The lowdown: Last year the boys won the Gila Valley Region and the girls finished second to Lake Havasu. There's no reason that the Raiders wouldn't repeat or sweep the region this season. McClure has described this season as “peak year” for the boys with eight of his state qualifiers entering their senior year. For the girls, McClure said his team is swimming better this season and he expects to be in contention with Havasu for this year's region title.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: Boys Gila Valley Region fifth-place finishers; Girls GVR fourth place
Top returners: Trae Land, sophomore, backstroke; Cheyne Vap, senior, diving; Sara Vining, butterfly; Alexandria Eatherly, junior, utility.
Key newcomers: Mark Frandsen, junior, freestyle; Stevan Aguirre, freshman, butterfly; Claudia Fimbres, freshman, breaststroke; Aliseiga Garza, freshman
Coach Kim Valenzuela comments: “Last year we graduated 12 seniors, so I really only have five returners … What I really like best about our team this year is that they are really excited about refining their strokes.”
The lowdown: With the loss of their core leadership and coach, it looks to be a rebuilding year for the Criminals and first-year coach Kim Valenzuela. Yuma High's roster has 22 swimmers and two divers, so depth may be an issue during the latter part of the season.
Gila Ridge Hawks
Last year: Boys Gila Valley Region third-place finishers; Girls GVR third place; 12th place at 5A-II Girls State Meet
Top returners: Emily Reh, senior, freestyle; Chace Williams, junior, freestyle; Andrew Haynes, junior, butterfly; Joseph Salerno, sophomore, utility.
Key newcomers: Haylee Dahl, freshman, utility; Edmond Song, freshman, freestyle
Coach Heather LaVin's comments: “They're a great group of athletes and I see a lot of potential. We have the potential to send a lot of swimmers to state and I want to give them what I can so they can achieve their personal best …We are working well as a unit. We are a unified team and that helps a lot at every event.”
The lowdown: After coach Rachel Eggers left the team for an athletic director position at Yuma High, the team has been handed over to first-year coach Heather LaVin, formerly of Glendale. LaVin inherits a veteran team, which placed third in the Gila Valley Region meet for both boys and girls. Leading that squad will be Emily Reh and Chace Williams, two veteran freestylers. The team is still relatively young, with only a few swimmers entering their senior year.
Last year: Boys Gila Valley Region runners-up; Girls GVR fifth place
Top returners: Johnathan Duran, senior, freestyle; Martin Porchas, junior, breaststroke; Austin Marshall, sophomore, butterfly; Cody Duran, sophomore, utility; Emily Hieber, junior, butterfly and individual medley; Christa Patana, senior, utility; Julia Herzog, senior, utility; Adly Wiley, junior, diver.
Key newcomers: Not available
Coach Amber Benz Pacewic's comments: “We've only got three seniors, so it's not going to be a big impact when we get to next year. But they are three of our top swimmers. We've got some girls with large ability … we don't have the depth in the girls that we do in the guys. We have twice as many boys as we do girls.”
The lowdown: In his senior year, Johnathan Duran will lead a group of boys swimmers that will hope to assert themselves in the Gila Valley Region standings. Last year, Duran took home the individual region title in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle. With a lack of numbers on the girls side, the team may struggle in dealing with the depth of other team's rosters. The bright spot is that Kofa will be competing in girls dive for the first time in recent memory as Adly Wiley takes to the board.