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Woeful weather a factor for swimmers’ season

While the recent weather in western Nevada County has taken its toll on the beginning of the spring sports season, perhaps no sport has been hit as hard as the swimming teams.

Both Nevada Union and Bear River practice in outdoor pools, making preseason training not only a fight to get in shape, but a fight to stay warm as well.

But despite the uncooperative storms and shaky beginning to the season, each team is looking forward to what could be a record-setting year.



Nevada Union

In talking about what he expects from this season, Nevada Union coach John Sultan’s optimism is hard to contain. So much so in fact that he feels this year’s team may be the best in school history when all is said and done.




“I’ve coached a long time and I’ve never had a more talented or deep team with both stars and depth – it’s a great combination to have,” Sultan said. “It will be a special year with our fabulous seniors and fast underclassmen. We have an opportunity to break numerous major school records on both the girls and boys sides in relay and individual events.”

Three of the fabulous seniors to which Sultan referred are all-Americans Drew Harris, Jon Huffman-Eddy and Whitney Stephenson.

Last season, Harris dominated the 200 yard individual medley, losing for the first time all season during the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet. He came in third in the IM and fifth in the 100 freestyle, with both times earning him all-American status.

Huffman-Eddy swam mostly longer distance freestyle races, qualifying for the section meet in the 200- and 500-freestyle races. He took 13th in the 500 race.

On the girls’ side, Stephenson leads the way by excelling in the 100 backstroke – an event in which she already holds the school record – while also swimming the 200 freestyle along with relays. She finished fourth at the section meet last year in the backstroke after winning the event at the freshman/sophomore level the year before.

The Miner boys finished 13th out of 42 teams at the section meet, with the girls ending in sixth place out of 46 teams.

In addition to the three aforementioned seniors, the Miners return four additional all-Metro swimmers in Caitlin Lee, Colleen Heauser, Jordan Golnik and Nicholas Ingersoll, who figure prominently into Nevada Union’s success this season.

Last season, Nevada Union clashed with Granite Bay for the league title, with the Grizzlies beating out the Miner boys for the championship by just 21 points.

Sultan sees this season being another “dog fight” with the Grizzlies.

While Sultan is excited about his returning letterwinners, his enthusiasm for freshman swimmer Haley Porter is strong as well.

“She’s ranked in the top five or six in her age for freestyle sprinters in the entire country,” Sultan said. “She’ll contend for a section championship as a freshman – that’s how good she is.”

At the Yuba City Relays on Feb. 25, in an nonscoring meet, out of 48 events – the Miners won all 48.

Bear River

While the Nevada Union team draws its strength from athletes who swim the majority of the year, the Bruins will rely mostly on multi-sport athletes – many of whom are swimming for the first time in their lives – and a boom in numbers to succeed.

Last year’s squad consisted of just 24 swimmers, but this season, the Bruins have 50 swimmers out for the team.

“Last year we finished second to Mira Loma (in the Pioneer Valley League), but we just didn’t have enough numbers,” Bear River coach Taryn Loehr said of the 80-swimmer strong Matadors. “They beat us by just having more bodies in the water. We just had too many gaps we couldn’t fill.”

Bear River put nine swimmers on the all-PVL team last season, five of whom will return. That list includes Hayley Loehr, Shannon Dayton, Stephanie Ursiny, Jessica Agnew and Chase Rogers.

No Bruin varsity swimmer qualified for the section trials last season, but nine swimmers did for the frosh/soph meet. Rogers emerged as one of the section’s strongest swimmers in that meet, taking sixth in the 50 freestyle as just a freshman. Even more impressive than his success as a freshman was the fact that it was his first season of competitive swimming.

Rogers will be back this season to team up with senior breaststroker Scott Martin, sophomore backstroker/freestyler Ryan Bock, sophomore distance swimmer Bryan Agnew and Robbie Stoddart, who swims the butterfly.

Two members of the Bear River girls basketball section championship team, Adrienne Brown and Dayton, both juniors, look to be leaders on this year’s squad along with Loehr, a junior sprinter. Agnew, a senior backstroker, and Tosha Duncan, a breaststroker, will also be key members of the girls team.

“We have a lot of solid swimmers,” Loehr said. “Not necessarily the section winner type kids, but ones that have come out and are working hard.”

The original date for the opening of the new Bear River pool was March 3, but because of construction delays the opening date looks to be sometime this summer. Meanwhile, the team is using the pool at the Lake of the Pines as its home pool this season.

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To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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