Finishing in style: Six seniors will conclude JHS careers at stateSenior leadership is vital for any team — even in individualistic sports such as swimming and diving. Not every senior on the Jamestown boys’ swimming and diving team is a vocal leader, but when it comes to leading by example, they’re perfect. All six of the Blue Jay seniors qualified for this year’s state meet, which kicks off today in Mandan. Not only does that benefit this year’s team, but JHS coach Ben Smith said it will also benefit the younger swimmers working their way through the ranks.
Senior leadership is vital for any team — even in individualistic sports such as swimming and diving.
Not every senior on the Jamestown boys’ swimming and diving team is a vocal leader, but when it comes to leading by example, they’re perfect.
All six of the Blue Jay seniors qualified for this year’s state meet, which kicks off today in Mandan. Not only does that benefit this year’s team, but JHS coach Ben Smith said it will also benefit the younger swimmers working their way through the ranks.
“Everybody brings something different,” said Smith, who is in his first year as the boys’ swimming and diving coach. “It was great that all six qualified because their hard work paid off.”
Willy Marler enters today’s meet with high hopes after winning West Region titles in both the 50 and 100 freestyles. In doing so, he also took back both pool records at JHS Pool after Williston’s Ben Bolinske captured both records earlier in the year.
Marler has had success at state in the past, winning the 100 free last year, but this year the standout sprinter will be looking to add to his state championships with a few more this weekend.
Bolinske has the top time in both events, but after topping his West Region rival last weekend in Jamestown, Marler enters the weekend with a little more swagger.
“I’m confident,” said the reigning 100 free state champ. “You have to have confidence going into a big race.”
Marler will also be swimming legs in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. He swam at state in relays before, but this year’s team will be a little different.
Prior to this season, Marler swam with Landon Ostlie and Chasen Miller for three years, but this year Marler will be teaming up with Braydon Love, Andy Oslund and Colt Rasmussen.
“I think Braydon, Andy and Colt have really stepped up this year,” said Marler. “We’re going to go for the 400 (team) record and drop that 200 (team) record a little bit this weekend. They’ve done a good job of filling the spots of Chasen and Landon.”
Oslund and Love are both sophomores and Rasmussen is a freshman — three of 10 underclassmen competing this weekend at state.
“We just try to be there for the underclassmen if they have any questions,” said JHS senior captain Nick Bercier. “We try to be their role models.”
Bercier, one of four senior captains on the roster, will be competing in the 100 butterfly this weekend, where he is looking for a spot in the top 16.
“I’m really hoping to drop some time and possibly get in the top 16,” said Bercier, who is competing in his first state meet. “The West Region gave me a feel for what the competition is going to be like at state.”
Bercier isn’t the only senior making his first appearance at state this weekend. In fact, Marler is the only senior who isn’t making his state debut.
“I’m extremely excited,” said Luke Allen, who qualified in the 100 backstroke at the West Region meet. “Hopefully I can set some personal bests and help the relay team.”
Allen and fellow senior Cody Kilgore will both be swimming legs in the 200 medley relay team. But just like Allen, Kilgore also has an individual event to compete in — the 100 breaststroke.
“Four years of swimming, I wanted to qualify,” said Kilgore. “It was a nice feeling when I did.”
While Kilgore is somewhat of a veteran in the pool, fellow senior Andrew Craig’s experience isn’t quite as extensive.
“This will be my first year at state and I’m a first-year swimmer,” said Craig, who is qualified in the 50 free. “I’m pretty excited. … I hadn’t really swam since I was five … but as soon as I got the form down it came pretty naturally.”
Brett Goehner won’t be joining his teammates in the pool at state. Instead, he will be twisting through the air as the Blue Jays’ lone senior diver. For him, qualifying for state is extra special because of how far the diving program has come over the past few seasons.
“It’s a lot more fun and easier to learn new dives because everybody is pushing each other,” said Goehner, who is one of four Blue Jay divers qualified for state. “It’s a lot better environment out there because it’s not just you and the board.”
All of the Blue Jay divers qualified for state this season, but each team is only allowed to send four to state.
And it wasn’t just the divers who stepped up for the Blue Jays this season. Smith said this is the biggest team the Jamestown boys have ever sent to state.
“It’s really been a great year,” said Smith. “I really can’t ask for anything more.”
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/DGriswoldSun