As the Watertown-Mayer/Delano girls’ swimming and diving team enters a new season, head coach Chuck Charnstrom has a problem any coach would love to have.
He has so many swimmers that it’s tough to find events for all them to swim.
“It has to be depth right now,” Charnstrom said when asked of his team’s strength this year. “The team is so big and we have so many strong swimmers that I’m struggling to find spots for some of the varsity girls. We have a few varsity girls that are going to end up swimming JV, but I guess that’s a good problem to have.”
Depth is something the Royals could certainly use this season. After a year in which they finished in fourth place in the Wright County Conference and eighth in Section 8AA, things will get even tougher for the Royals this season when they enter a new section.
The Royals will now be competing in the same section that the Watertown-Mayer/Waconia/Delano boys’ team does, against the likes of state powers Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka.
“It’s going to be a lot more challenging,” Charnstrom said. “Our team goal is just to get more back for finals and get somebody qualified for state. I think we have probably a better chance this year than we’ve had in the past.”
Last year, WMD had only one swimmer qualify for the section finals, and that swimmer, Noelle Johnson, won’t be back this year after choosing instead to focus on club swimming. Diver Andi Jo Shrode, one of the area’s best, also graduated after last season. Mia Lindgren and Addie Weber, two other strong swimmers and key contributors, have also been lost to graduation.
To make matters even more difficult, the Royals won’t have a diving program this year after the school board voted several months ago to eliminate that portion of the swimming and diving program. That won’t affect the Royals during home duals, when diving simply won’t be included in the meet. However, in road duals, the Royals will forfeit all 13 points to their opponents.
“It takes 94 points to win a meet,” Charnstrom said. “(13 points) is a big chunk to overcome. It will affect us, but we’ll just use it as a rallying point as being the underdog. Everyone seems to rally a little better and get psyched up being the underdog.”
While the Royals will face challenges, they will be led by a dedicated and experienced group of returning swimmers. This year’s captains are seniors Sommer Heikkila, Sophia Fillmore and Abby Coyle.
Junior Kayla Stevens also returns after a strong season in which she qualified for two “B” finals at the section meet, as well as numerous other swimmers with significant varsity experience.
The Royals could also get a boost from a couple of new, young swimmers from Delano. Eighth-grader Jordyn Wentzel, who recently moved to Delano, set a state record this year in the 11-12-year-old 400-meter IM while swimming for her club team, the Minnesota Aquajets. Charnstrom also said seventh grader Morgan Frank already appears to be one of the team’s fastest swimmers.
“Two of our fastest girls are new to the team, so we have a lot to fill in the gaps,” Charnstrom said.
The Royals season opened on Friday, Aug. 23, when they hosted Mound-Westonka. The Royals also swam at an invitational at St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday, and will return to the pool on Thursday, Sept. 5, for 5:30 p.m. dual at Marshall.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]