Notre Dame, Central take shots at team, individual title

Friday, February 14, 2003

Two years ago the Notre Dame Bulldogs boys swimming team entered the water for the first time.

Now in their third season, the Bulldogs have mastered a repertoire well beyond dogpaddle: They find themselves in uncharted waters with their first appearance at the Missouri Swimming and Diving Championships.

Notre Dame, led by freshman Jameson Kuper, has eight swimmers at the two-day meet that opens today and concludes Saturday at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo. The Bulldogs will join Central, which will be represented by six swimmers in three events.

"Our team hasn't really grown in numbers; it's just grown in strength and ability," Notre Dame coach Lenny Kuper said of his three-year-old program that won the inaugural SEMO Conference meet on Monday. "Several of these guys have swam with us all three years, and you can tell it in their improvement."

Part of the reason for the quality upgrade is Kuper's own bloodline. His sons, Jameson and Jordan, a senior, will participate in three of the Bulldogs' four individual events and make up half of the state-qualifying 400-relay team, which also consists of John Fisher and Mark Lester.

Fisher also will compete in the 100 butterfly, in which he has a state-qualifying time of 57.63 seconds.

Jordan Kuper will compete in the 200 individual medley (2:09.63), making a state qualifying cut for the first time.

Qualifying as a freshman

But it's been Jameson who has captured much of the attention in his first year of high school competition. Although he's swimming in only two individual events, he's qualified for three other events -- 100 breaststroke, 200 IM, 500 freestyle -- and has gone unbeaten in freestyle events this season.

"He's probably our strongest bet for coming back to the championship round," Lenny Kuper said.

To qualify for Saturday's championship round, swimmers must finish in the top 16 in today's preliminaries.

"In the 100 free, I'm hoping to get top five, and the same goes for the 200 free, but I don't know if that's going to happen," said Jameson, who's been swimming competitively for about eight years.

The top eight finishers in each event are awarded all-state status.

Juniors John Stoverink, Josh Lester and Stephen Hine will serve as alternates for the 400 relay (3:32).

For Central, junior Sam Maguire will swim in all three events, including individually in the 50-meter freestyle (:23.1).

Maguire, making his third trip to the state meet and second individually, will join senior Andrew Moreton and juniors Alex Heddle and Clay Schermann in the 200 freestyle relay (1:35.2). Moreton is making his third trip to the state meet, while Heddle will make his second appearance. The foursome also will compete in the 400-meter relay (3:36.1). Sophomore Quentin Kelley and freshman Chris Metje, who helped the Tigers make the 400 qualifying time, will serve as alternates.

Preliminary swimming competition will start at 3 p.m. today. Saturday's finals start at 3 p.m. Diving competition will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

jbreer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 124

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