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Stingrays turn budget cuts into time cuts

The boys' swimming and diving season was a success, despite some early concern about the Stingrays' survival.

Due to budget deficits, both Morris Area and Minnewaska Area High Schools had to make budget cuts and boys' swimming and diving was one of the programs that was cut at both schools. The Morris Area swimming parents then began a fundraising campaign through the summer and into the fall in order to raise money for the 2007-08 season.

"It is because of their efforts that the boys were able to swim this season and I greatly appreciate them," said coach Tim Brooks.

The Stingrays also started the season a little short because Minnewaska Area was unable to contribute swimmers to the Morris/Minnewaska/Chokio-Alberta combined swim team.

"The one positive of the budget cut is that it gave Stingray swimmers an extra incentive to begin recruiting for the 2007-2008 season, and as a result the team began with 16 swimmers compared to last year's 11," said Brooks.

Of those 16 swimmers, four were new to the program, one transferred from another school, and two came up from the Tigersharks, a swim team for kids up through sixth grade and also seventh through 12th grades during the the off-season.

"The Stingray season ran very well," said Brooks. "Though we lost three swimmers due to injury, academics, and other activities, the remaining 13 pulled together nicely.

"The parents continued to provide support by caravanning kids to meets and hosting spaghetti suppers," said Brooks. "I think that this helped the swimmers to bond with one another and truly see themselves as a team."

Stefan Lemke and Austin Schieler were elected captains by the team and began to work with some of the newer swimmers. Three of our the swimmers, Gage Anderson, Roy Reese, and Sean Brustuen improved rapidly and quickly started dropping time in their swims. Brustuen eventually went on to make the Section 200 Free Relay team and was also awarded Most Improved Swimmer for the season.

The fourth new addition was Jacob Erickson. "Jacob was a welcome addition to the team because of his interest in diving," said Brooks. "Coached by Tara Schmidt, he learned quickly and helped us to remain competitive at meets."

Each of the other swimmers improved this year also. Matt Cotter improved in Freestyle and Jeff Knobloch and Preston Moser were among those who almost never missed a practice.

"One swimmer that I was impressed by was Timm Uhlmann, not only because his Freestyle times drastically improved but also because he helped lead and push on some of the other swimmers whose times were near his," said Brooks.

Another swimmer, Doltan Baier, came from Alexandria and was a welcome addition to the team.

"A good swimmer who also made the Section team, Doltan brought the right amount of fun to practices and meets," said Brooks.

"Most of the swimmers this year had a 'can do, will do' attitude and that is a blessing to any coach," Brooks said. "Among those were Jackson Boever who pushed himself in the Freestyle and Mickey Cotter who competed in the 100 Butterfly.

As a captain Schieler helped swimmers with their technique and flip-turns. He made the Section team in the 50 Freestyle and the 100 Backstroke and performed personal bests in both. He also swam in the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays at Sections.

"Not only a good swimmer, but also a good person, Austin is one whom I look forward to having on the team next year," said Brooks.

Awarded the Most Valuable Swimmer for the season was Lemke.

"Stefan had an incredible record-breaking season this year as he won the 500 Freestyle at Sections and set a new school record," said Brooks.

Also at Sections, Lemke swam the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay and also qualified for State in the 200 Freestyle. Though ill the week prior to State, Stefan still competed in the 200 and the 500 Freestyle.

"Looking back over the past year I think the Stingrays had an incredible season and has set itself up for another great season for 2008-2009," said Brooks. "Though the Stingrays are a young team, with all swimmers in 10th grade or below, they have already shown themselves to be a strong and talented group of swimmers.

"New swimmers are always welcome and certainly play a pivotal role on the team.

"I'm excited as I look forward to the 2008-2009 season and what the Stingrays have in store for us."