Blue Jays confident in strong finishBen Smith said during the preseason he felt this year’s Jamestown High School boys swimming and diving team would do something special. The second-year coach saw a glimpse of what the Blue Jays are capable last weekend at the West Region meet in Minot, and he’s hoping it comes to fruition this weekend.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Ben Smith said during the preseason he felt this year’s Jamestown High School boys swimming and diving team would do something special.
The second-year coach saw a glimpse of what the Blue Jays are capable last weekend at the West Region meet in Minot, and he’s hoping it comes to fruition this weekend.
Jamestown competes in the state meet today and Saturday in Bismarck fresh off a program-best third-place finish on Saturday.
“Not that it was a surprise; we knew we were capable of getting third place,” Smith said. “It was the right combination of team members stepping up and just doing what they needed to do within their respective events.”
The Blue Jays scored 234 points, edging out Williston (226) and Mandan (225).
“Everyone contributed for all of our points,” said senior captain Grant Curtis said. “We felt like we could do what we came there to do.”
The Blue Jays have plenty of point-scorers, but if they hope to have a season-best meet, they’ll likely need points out of their diving crew.
Riley Thom is sixth in the state with a 353.8-point effort earlier this season. Cody Lutman is seventh (323.8), Ian Eastham (291.5) is 13th and Dylan Koenig (263.85) is 22nd.
“Riley’s been working hard all year,” Smith said. Diving coach “Brooke Lukach really brought a lot of stuff to the table. She brings a lot to the program. It relates to the guys. They’ve really benefitted from that.”
Lukach is a 2011 graduate of JHS, where she was senior athlete of the year in the West Region.
“Brooke has brought the divers as far as they’ve ever come,” Thom said. “There was a lot I had to work out and refine to get to the point where I am now.”
Thom is the highest seeded Jay going into state, yet he said he doesn’t feel he any burden with having to score points for the team to do well.
“I don’t really think about it much on the pressure part,” Thom said. “It doesn’t bother me that much.”
Thom took 12th at state last year, and with the top 16 qualifying for the finals on Saturday, Jamestown could be well represented.
“Riley and Cody and Ian should place well at state within the top 16; they’ll do well,” Smith said.
Junior Andy Oslund is also looking to place high in the 100 freestyle (50.95) and 50 freestyle (23.38). He’s seeded ninth and 15th, respectively.
Teammate Colt Rasmussen is in a similar situation, as he’s seeded 11th in both the 200 free (1:53.58) and 500 free (5:16.01), and 16th in the 100 free (51.43).
“I’m not really looking at seeds right now. Not that it doesn’t mean anything, but you’ve got to perform the day of,” Smith said. “I have confidence in our team that they’ll do well on Friday and they’ll do better on Saturday.”
Jamestown has two relays looking to make noise with the 200 freestyle (1:35.85) and 400 freestyle (3:33.81). Oslund and Rasmussen swam in both qualifying relays, which are seeded eighth. Hunter Boehm and Braydon Love are part of the 200 free, while Love and Cayden Hare help make up the 400 free.
“We found the right combination of relays at WDA and we’re sticking with those,” Smith said. “The guys are comfortable with their relays and they trust each other. That’s the biggest thing, having confidence with their teammates.”
The third-place finish at regionals is a sign of a successful season, but Smith said it’s not the icing on the cake. He hopes that’s coming this weekend.
“We’ve had a good season, but we’re not done yet,” he said. “We still have some things up our sleeves. We’re just ready to end it well. We’re looking for season-best performances. ... We’ll do the best we can do and see where it takes us.”
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org