When the Region III Swimming and Diving Championships resume today at Skyview High School, the Kodiak boys will be chasing a second-straight crown while the Soldotna girls will be after a sixth straight crown.
While coaches expect a Kodiak repeat, they also say Soldotna will have a tough fight on its hands for another title.
"It's gonna be tough to knock off Kodiak," Kenai Central coach Lee Moore said of the race for the boys crown. "The Homer boys could give them a run, but Kodiak is the team to beat."
While most expect little drama on the boys side in the race for the team crown, coaches expect a tight race on the girls side.
"There's going to be a pretty good race there," Skyview coach Dennis Reger said. "Homer and Colony look pretty good, and you can't leave out Soldotna either."
Moore threw in Kodiak as another team to watch out for on the girls side.
While peninsula schools Skyview, Kenai Central and Seward will have a tough time winning a team crown, the three still have plenty to accomplish at the region meet.
Last year, Kenai's Amy Jahrig was the only Kardinal to qualify for state. Moore would like to see her qualify again. He also said swimmers Amanda Keen, Landon Mishler, Luke Baumer and Christopher Hall have a shot at state. Diver Andy Knowles also could get a state berth, while diver and borough champion Madison Gifford will miss the meet due to injury.
"We're such a young team that we want to get as many swimmers qualified for the consolation finals or the finals for Saturday," Moore said. "And, as always, we're trying to get the kids to swim their best times."
Reger has stacked some relays on both the boys and girls sides in hopes of getting some state bids there. He also said Nolan Schmidt, Vanessa Williams and Merrick Jackinsky have a shot at going in individual events. The coach said divers Brian Hibberd and Jenny Andrus also have shots at state.
"This is the first time in a number of years Skyview has been able to host regions," Reger said. "It will be a lot of fun and hard work.
"Hopefully, we can get a few relays to qualify for state and get as many as we can into the finals."
Seward coach Janet Van Driessche said Jacqueline Van Driessche, the defending state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, and Jong Kim are potential state qualifiers.
Jacqueline Van Driessche has been battling a knee injury this year, but her mother said she is almost over the injury.
Seward diver Walter Moore also has a shot at state.
If the Homer boys are going to catch Kodiak, the Mariners will need big performances from Kevin Wythe, Anthony Augusto and Jamey Smith. Each won an event at the borough meet in Homer last Saturday.
While the Soldotna boys will have hard time catching the Bears, Nathan Grabowski and Keegan Birchfield, who each won events at the borough meet, have shots at earning state berths.
On the girls side, borough meet event-winners Britta Baechler and Deannie Andree will lead the Mariners while borough winners Lyla Marey and Eve Green will try and secure SoHi another crown.
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