After another wet and wild season in 3A, teams are gearing up to separate the contenders from the pretenders in the state meet.
Judge Memorial is looking to continue its dominance in 3A girls swimming. The Bulldogs have won eight of the past nine state titles, including the last three. Even with the past success and the fact that Judge recently earned the Region 10 title, coach Matt Finnigan insists that his team is not taking anything for granted.
"It doesn't matter what you look like going in," said Finnigan. "It matters what you look like coming out."
The strength of Judge's team is in its depth. Senior captains Marisa Bush, Cassandra Cokl, and Lizzie Gibbs are making their fourth trip to the state meet and are looking to complete the sweep. Freshman Allison Witte and junior Kaley Banyai will also be big contributors for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Amelia Wolfgramm is Judge's strongest swimmer, having won two individual titles last year as a freshman. Wolfgramm posted the fastest times in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke this season and will be looking to earn individual titles again in those events.
However, Wolfgramm has stiff competition in Amelia Draney of Desert Hills and Kelsey Leeson of Juan Diego. Both Draney and Leeson were individual winners in last season's state meet and both claim fastest times in multiple events this year.
The race for the boys title is more wide open with Park City, Desert Hills, Wasatch and Tooele all jockeying for the top spot.
"This is the fastest, and most competitive I've ever seen 3A," said Park City coach Mike Werner.
Desert Hills and the defending champs from Wasatch have virtually identical scores heading into this weekend. Tim Senholtz and John McPhie lead the Thunder while David Finley and Hunter Hallows headline the Wasps.
Both teams are very good and deep which means it will all boil down to who wants it more.
Park City is another contender and is led by University of Utah commit Dusty Ragland, who has posted the fastest times in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle, as well as the 100 fly. Werner complimented Ragland, saying that "he is a very dedicated, determined, and focused young man."
Park City will be hampered a bit by its lack of depth. But Werner says that what the Miners lack in quantity they make up for in quality.
"I've never had a group with this much heart and unity," said Werner.
Tooele is also in the hunt thanks to its impressive depth and because of their excellent head coach Mel Roberts.
Roberts was worried how this season might fare after losing so many athletes to graduation last season but is proud of how his team "stepped up" to the challenge.
Tooele has a plethora of swimmers that have podium potential, including Chase Stoddard, Brandon Johnson, Tyler VonHatten, and Cody McEachern.
The state meet will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at BYU.