Hays High swimmers could be a surprise
By KLINT SPILLER
Hays High School boys' swimming coach Ann Adams said she expects her team to produce some surprises this season.
The Indians have 19 swimmers out this season, with nine returners and 10 newcomers.
"The wonderful thing about high school swimming is all of a sudden people show up who never went out for swimming before, but they can (swim)," Adams said.
Adams said though the newcomers haven't swam for Hays High, they have competed for the summer swimming team, the Hays Hurricanes, at some point.
"Even if it's way back, it carries over," Adams said.
Adams said she'll find out what kind of surprise she's in store for at 3:30 p.m. Thursday when her squad competes at the Salina South Invitational.
In practice, it is difficult to gauge how fast the swimmers are with them practicing in swimming trunks and outside of actual competition, Adams said.
"I will know so much more Thursday at 6 o'clock when the meet is over," Adams said.
Two people who Adams knows are fast are her top two returners: seniors Derek Drees and Blake Mathews.
They each competed in four meets at the Class 5-1A state meet last season.
Drees was the lone Indian to medal at the meet, placing seventh in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.42 seconds.
He also competed in the 100 butterfly, placing 20th in 1:01.42, and was a member of the state qualifying 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays.
"He's really into swimming," Mathews said. "He brings a lot of positive energy into practice. It's always fun to swim with him."
Adams said Drees has the potential to win state in an event.
"I absolutely see that," Adams said. "He's fit. It's just a question of a tweak here and there with technique."
Mathews finished 11th in the 100 freestyle in 52.70 and 15th in the 200 freestyle in 1:58.56. He also was a member of the state qualifying 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
He said he's set his sights higher for his senior year.
"This year, I want to do better," Mathews said. "I want to medal in every event I do."
Other state qualifiers from last year include senior Spencer Greathouse in the 19th-place 200 yard freestyle relay and senior Connor Hess, who placed 22nd in the 100 backstroke and was a member of the 16th-place 200 medley relay and the disqualified 400 freestyle relay.
Three of Hays High's state qualifiers were seniors last season, but Mathews said he is confident other swimmers will be able to step up and fill their shoes.
"We have some people this year who can step up and take their spots," he said. "There were some guys last year that can step up even more and do even better."