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December 5, 2012

POOLSIDE: Boys' swimming preview

Even after big losses, Jeff looks to three-peat



• Head Coach: Keith Gast, 15th season.

• Assistant Coaches: Michael Dennis, Greg Smith (diving coach), April Gibson (assistant diving coach).

• Departed Swimmers: Zach Blankenbeker (five-time state finalist and All-American, now swimming at West Point), Ty Arthur (member of 200 and 400 freestyle relay All-American team), Austin Smith, (member of 200 and 400 freestyle relay All-American team), John Davis (two-time sectional runner up), Conner Richardson (HHC and sectional diving champion).

• Returning Varsity Swimmers: Tim “T” Martin (Jr., All-American, Olympic trialist, three-time individual state finalist), Lucas Hennegan (Sr., state qualifier in the 100 breaststroke), Zach Griffis (Jr., sectional finalist), Zach Daily (Jr., sectional finalist), Josh Phelps (Sr.), Alec McAtee (Sr.), Evan Shive (So.), Evan Lopez (Jr.), Tyler Sariscsany (Jr.), Levi Mays (Sr., diver), Trevin Hazel (Sr., diver).

• Key Newcomers: Jacob Stacey (Fr.), Michael Cain (Fr.), Karol Schmuck (Slovakian exchange student)

• Outlook: Jeff lost a ton but it has a lot returning, led by Martin, who will contend for a state championship or two. The addition of Schmuck, a water polo player from Slovakia, could help offset some of the big losses. Even without Blankenbeker, Arthur and Smith, the Red Devils will be the favorites to win their third straight sectional crown and finish in the top-20 at the state meet.

• Coach Gast said: “Losing all that we did, some coaches would be thinking about retiring after last year’s seventh-place finish at the state meet. Believe me, I spent some time this summer wondering how we could possibly follow up last season’s success. But any coach with experience knows that some years you win and some years you struggle to win. That is the fun part of coaching for me. We want to win the HHC and the sectional again. Our junior [class] has the goal of being the first Jeff swim team to win the HHC and sectional all four years and they are ready to show what they can do.”

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