of the Sentinel Konah
While all eyes are on the Hellgate swim teams to repeat their state title--and understandably so as they’ve won the last four years straight--Sentinel shouldn’t be discounted.
“Sentinel swimming is in a great place heading toward the state swim meet. The girls have finished two or three at every meet this season and we could be in the top three at the state meet,” head coach Helen Houlihan said.
Houlihan, who is in the unique position of coaching all six AA Missoula teams--both the boys and girls teams for Sentinel, Big Sky/Loyola, and Hellgate--believes Sentinel has a shot of getting to the podium.
True, Hellgate is coming into next weekend’s competition as the favorites, but Sentinel, Butte and Bozeman are right on their heels.
The team is optimistic to do well at the meet.
“We’re mentally training and physically tapering, so we’re practicing a bit easier and working on the basics,” Freshman Ellie Gashwiler said.
The boys’, team too, shows potential to finish well.
“The boys are building a great team and they should finish in the top six at the state meet,” Houlihan said. “We have a great group of freshmen who have added excellent depth to the team and have brought great success to our relays.”
Freshman Bremer Deaton said, “My goal is to place top six in all my races. I also hope the relay gets top four.”
Houlihan is also optimistic about the boys’ team.
“Last year we only had four Spartan boys at the state meet - this year we are taking 15 to the state swim meet. Five of these guys are freshman who are bringing excellent club experience to the team. We expect a top 6 finish at state this year.
“The Spartans have been in the process of rebuilding the last five years. When I started coaching, the Spartan girls were in the top three every year from 2008 to 2010,” Houlihan said.
“Now we have a really strong group of freshmen and are adding great depth to the team. In the last four swim meets, Sentinel has placed second only to Hellgate, so we are really excited about their chances.”
Senior Avery Haslam said, “I am so excited for state this year. Hellgate has a very strong team, but we are definitely sizing up.”
The girls’ and boys’ teams finished their regular season with second and third place respectively last weekend at the Montana Classic Swim Meet in Butte.