Both teams will try to overcome the loss of talented senior classes.
By Jeremy Joffray ~ Southeast Missourian
It has been a busy offseason for the sport of high school swimming.
In May, the Missouri State High School Activities Association narrowly voted to change the swimming seasons, moving boys swimming to the fall and girls swimming to the winter, starting the 2006-2007 school year.
Just recently, MSHSAA passed another measure that allows swimmers and divers to compete in non-school swimming and diving teams during the season.
Both rules could have various affects on the makeup of area swim teams over the next few years. For now, both Central and Notre Dame will work to overcome the loss of strong senior classes while trying to send swimmers back to the state meet.
"It should be interesting to see if the new MSHSAA rule affects state," Notre Dame coach Lenny Kuper said.
Notre Dame opens its season Friday at the University City Relays, while Central debuts Saturday with its own Cape Rock Invitational.
Notre Dame will feature one of the top swimmers in the area with the return of junior Jameson Kuper. A state qualifier his freshman year, Kuper did not swim last year in order to spend more time in the pool with his club team.
"He's looking forward to swimming high school again," Lenny Kuper said.
Now in its fifth year, Notre Dame's program has qualified a swimmer for the state tournament each season. Kuper will likely lead Notre Dame's state chances this season.
Lenny Kuper said he's looking for good things from all his swimmers.
"I never want to look to one person to carry the team," he said.
The Bulldogs will feature a fairly small squad with only 13 swimmers. Th team include seniors Joe Graves, Nathan Todt, Justin Voss and Josh Buchheit, and juniors Lance Carroll, John Kiblinger and Adam Reinagel. Sophomores are Jordan Voss, Edward Doyle and Jason Hine, while freshman Ian Spaeth completes the squad.
"It comes in cycles," Kuper said. "This is about the number when we first started. We've been here before."
Central had a strong year last season, qualifying three relays for the state meet along with several individuals. Much of the relay team is gone with the graduation of Alex Heddle, Clay Schermann and Sam Maguire. Helping fill the void will be Jason Mercer and Hunter Givens, two swimmers who competed at state last year.
"Once you get to state, you want to get back there," Central coach Dayna Powell said.
Quinten Kelley, Drew Kiel and Daniel Berry should provide strong senior leadership for the Tigers. Central's other senior is John Wolpers, in his first season with Central after swimming solely for clubs during his first three years in high school.
Kris Metje, a junior who swam his freshman season, is back after spending his sophomore year swimming for a club.
Powell said having swimmers tugged by both club and high school teams could create some problems, but she is hopeful the situation will work out well for her squad.
"It's kind of a weird thing. A different thing for all of us," she said.
Other juniors for the Tigers include Micah Wright, Daniel Austin, Ben Bostic, David Olsen, Cole Buerkle, Rob Thomas and Aaron Zlokovich. Jake Meyer and Hank Hurt join Givens as Central's sophomores.
Peyton Waggener, Matt Holmes and Will LaFoe represent the freshmen for Central. Waggener and Holmes will swim the breast stroke for the Tigers.
"We look very young even though we have four seniors," Powell said.
Central opens its season Saturday at home with the first-ever Cape Rock Invitational. The event will feature some of the top teams from the St. Louis area.
"We're excited to swim in our own pool," Powell said of the opener.
Central also has duals with swimming power Lafayette, Kirkwood, MICDS, Oakville, St. Louis University High and the local squads.
"We like the schedule. We like swimming the good teams," Powell said.