With the Monticello boys swimming and diving team waving goodbye to the most dominant senior class in school history, and one of the best classes in the state, this year’s team will be saying hello to a new era.
After graduating a total of 18 state championship medals, spread out across five kids, led by current University of Minnesota swimmer Paul Fair’s school-record 12 championships, Monticello begins this season with a few more questions than answers.
“I noticed a big hole on the first day [of practice],” said Lawrence Krause, Monticello’s lone senior. “Not only were they great swimmers, but they were a major presence.”
In order to fill that presence, and accomplish their revamped goals, Monticello will be relying heavily on three stud swimmers – Krause, Connor Hangsleben and Blaise Nyberg – and a whole lot of youngsters.
With a squad featuring just one senior and two junior letter winners, Coach Dirk Westveer estimates the average age of his squad to be ninth grade.
“It’s fun for me to get back to basics,” said Westveer, adding that it’s at times trying too, as some of the kids are still learning basic swimming strokes.
Friday night, Monticello got a little glimpse of what kind of cards they’re holding entering this year, as they hosted a conference relay meet to kick off the season.
The relay meet features a relaxed vibe and lets kids swim some different events. With a lot of newcomers, Westveer said it was a great way to start this season.
“For this kind of team, that was good,” he said. “Now our new guys aren’t going to be so nervous. They’ve been through a meet, they kind of know what it’s about. And it’s kind of fun, even for the experienced guys.”
The meet wasn’t scored, but Westveer said he saw some times he was pleased with and that the Magic even had some good relay exchanges for early in the season.
“There were some different swims that were real positives,” he said.
Getting the divers on the board for some competition was also a positive for the Magic.
“If we get some of these divers going, that might be a real strength,” said Westveer, before pointing specifically to sophomore Logan Bican, who he expects to have a big year.
“[Logan] is really an excellent diver,” he said.
In swimming, Monticello is still trying to determine where will be their deepest events and where they have the biggest holes to fill.
Early on, Krause likes what he’s seen out of the sprinters.
“We have several people that worked hard in the offseason,” he said. “They are looking good so far.”
Monticello jumps quickly into conference action, beginning with a meet against Chisago Lakes tonight. Swimming in a deep conference, against teams that are surely anxious to beat the Magic, Westveer expects it to be a bit of a battle through the conference schedule this year.
But if things progress, Westveer certainly isn’t willing to give up on the idea of success, especially in the postseason.
“I always have the expectation of being a top-10 team [in Class A],” said Westveer. “This team, if things go right and a few kids step up, we could make that.”
Krause said that maintaining focus is going to be a big key for this Magic team that will likely have to grind out some victories this year.
We’ve got to stay focused,” he said. “If you don’t stay focused in swimming and you don’t swim the yards, then you’re not going to do well.”
But, as the year progresses, and the young swimmers adjust, Krause doesn’t expect that to be an issue for the Magic.
“I think we’ll do well,” added the senior.
Monticello is at home tonight against Chisago Lakes. The meet is set to begin at 6.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com