Watertown-Mayer/Waconia/Delano/ Holy Family boys’ swimming and diving coach Chuck Charnstrom doesn’t have a lot of swimmers to work with on this year’s roster, but he isn’t overly concerned. That’s because he has plenty of talented swimmers to work with.
The Royals have fewer than two dozen swimmers on this year’s roster, but they return four that earned all-conference honors of some sort a year ago. They’ll have to replace a number of key departed seniors — most notably state-placing divers Dustin Gens and Michael Roane, who racked up a ton of points last season — but Charnstrom is confident he has a key core of athletes again this year.
“We have another small team, but it is packed with talent and a bunch of guys that swim year round,” Charnstrom said. “We will be competitive in our conference, and I think we’ll continue to improve at sections.”
The Royals are coming off a season in which they finished second in the Wright County Conference and fourth in one of the state’s toughest sections, a section that includes state powers like Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina. They’ll be looking to duplicate that type of success this season, and will be banking on a talented crop of returnees that includes the likes of Zach Holman, Shawn Wasser and Kurt Gilbertson, all of whom earned first-team all-conference honors in the Wright County Conference last season.
Holman will contribute across the board, while Gilbertson specializes in the breaststroke and sprint freestyle and Wasser specializes in the freestyle. Also returning to the Royals after earning all-conference honorable mention honors is Tylor Franklin. Franklin specializes in the mid distance freestyle events.
While three-time state diving qualifier Dustin Gens has graduated after a second-place finish in the state last year, his younger brother, Tristan, returns to this year’s team to with talent and experience to lead the divers. Diving coach Jen Mell frequently spoke glowingly of the younger Gens’ potential throughout last season.
Charnstrom also said he’ll be looking to another group of talented swimmers to make the next step this year.
“I’m looking toward Ben DeSutter, Austin Gilbert, Allan Janikula, Brent Unwsky, Jack Daluge, Drew Wolfe and Givon Kumal to play a larger role than they did last year,” Charnstrom said.
New additions this year that Charnstrom believes could help the team include Adam Bartell, Tyler Hannan and Daniel Clark. Jay Boerner, a senior, also returns to this year’s team after previously swimming earlier in his career.
“Our biggest challenge is to make up for our lack of depth by promoting our young and less experienced swimmers,” Charnstrom said.
The Royals open the season with a scrimmage on Thursday, Dec. 6, at Orono. The first varsity meet will be an invitational on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake.