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STHS swimmers zone ready

Michael Traum

South Tahoe High’s swim team has long known that while winning the Sierra League is one thing, competing in the Northern Nevada zone trials and finals are different pools of water.

The Vikings, who haven’t lost a Sierra League meet in more than two years, head into this weekend’s zone tournament hoping to up last year’s number of just two qualifiers for the state competition.

Trials are scheduled for Friday on the University of Nevada campus, with the top 16 competitors as well as all relay teams competing in the finals at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The top four in each event continue to the state finals.

“I think we’re getting more and more respect for Tahoe swimming every year. For the size of our school, we do really well,” said first-year high school coach Dale Bogard, whose 35-member team is used to competing against the smaller schools in the area. “Some of the Reno and Carson schools have 100 students just trying out for the team. But I’m excited for our kids. They’ve represented the school well and I want them to do well at zone. Anything else they do after this is extra.”

Leading the Vikings’ nautical battle is junior Sarah Ross. The 100 backstroke specialist hasn’t lost a Sierra League meet during her high school career. Last year, she qualified for state in both the 100 back and 50 free. She hopes to at least duplicate the feat this season in the 100 back and 100 free.

“I don’t really know what the competition is going to be like. But I think I have a good chance to be in the top four (at zone),” she said. “Everyone is swimming wonderfully, but I don’t know if they realize the higher caliber of competition they’re going against. But this has been the funnest year yet and everyone has been really positive and in to it.”

Another swimmer with state experience is sophomore Kristi Collins. The 100 butterfly specialist has admittedly gotten stronger since last year and hopes to qualify in both the 100 fly and 50 free.

“(Zone) is a big thing. It’s not really nerve-racking but there’s a little bit, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It’s definitely worth the work to be a top high school swimmer,” said Collins, who is coming on in the 50 free. “I think I’ve got a better chance in that race. It’s a quick race, so you don’t have time to screw up. You have to have a good start and good turn. That’s pretty much the race.”

According to Bogard, joining Ross and Collins as the Vikes’ best chances for individual state qualifying is her daughter, Denise, in the 100 breast stroke, junior Russell Grant in the 200 and 500 free, sophomore Justin Murray in the 50 and 100 free, and four-year senior Erick Luerken in the 50 and 100 free.

For freshman Jessica Tinlin, who will be swimming individually as well as in the relays, the first zone meet is an opportunity to work out the kinks for years to come.

“I’m so excited and I’m nervous. It’s more than just a regular season meet. My coaches say I can go all the way some day if I really try. It’s a lot of pressure, but I set high expectations for myself,” she said.

Completing the list of zone competitors are: individuals – Nicole Fruitman, Nicole Murray, Shaina Willen, Faye Clapp, Forrest Armstrong, and Tom Luerken; and relays – JoJo Miller, Shane Anderson, Matt Williams, Megan Hicks and Kim Hunt.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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