The Mingus Union High School swimming and diving team could not have asked for a better start to the season with a dual meet win against Northland Preparatory Academy, by a combined score of 178-171, on Thursday, Aug. 31.
Some Marauders swimmers collected personal bests, and save a few disqualifications, it was an overall strong outing for the first meet of the season.
“Both teams [boys and girls] had some great swims, both teams had some errors,” Marauders head coach Gretchen Wesbrock said. “Kids were beating times that they did at state last year at the first meet today so that’s pretty exciting.”
The boys won 88-84, but more notable was the girls’ win 90-87 against the reigning Division III state champion Spartans.
Diversity is the team’s biggest strength this season. There are quality swimmers in all areas: Sprint, middle distance and distance freestyle group as well in the strokes.
That depth of strength showed in the meet, held at Cottonwood Aquatics Center.
Just a few weeks into the season and Wesbrock already has the Marauders swimming 6,000 yards a day. As a result many of them reached times equal to or better from last season’s state meet. One thing to be worked on still, as is with many teams at the start of a season, were relay starts, which led to some disqualifications.
“This year everyone’s been straight focused. We’re all really motivated to get in the water, do what needs to be done and we’re all looking to improve individually and as a team,” senior Gunner Tillemans said.
This year’s team is young, too, with just three seniors. It provides a bright future for the Marauders team for this season and the coming ones as well.
“For a team our size to only have three that will be moving on after this year and to be doing as well as we [are] is pretty exciting,” Wesbrock said.
Aside from putting in yards, Wesbrock looks for the team, from top to bottom, to come together more as a unit. According to one Marauder, that goal is being accomplished already.
“Not only are we doing better in the water but we’re doing a lot better with cheering on and a lot of good sportsmanship that I like to see from the team,” Tillemans said.
The dual meet was not a state qualifying meet. Teams only have four opportunities a season to make state qualifying times.
Unlike in Division I and II, Division III does not have state qualifying time standards. The top 24 individual and top 16 relay times entered from the whole division reach the state meet, making qualification a mystery, and exciting, until the end.
Mingus’ first qualifying meet is the Wolves Classic on Sept. 9 at Chandler Pool. Its next meet is at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Saguaro Multi-Meet at Saguaro High School.