The Minot High School girls swimming and diving team has a number of holes to fill following the graduation of 14 members.
The most critical loss is Courtney Funk, who helped lead Minot to its most recent state championship in 2008. Funk, a swimmer at the University of North Dakota, won the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 freestyle at the state meet last year. She was a member of the state record in the 200 medley relay in 2008.
"We had such a great senior class last year," MHS coach Dan Hinton said. "It's tough to replace that senior class. But we do have some young girls coming in that are going to step it up and are really fast already."
Mike Kraft/MDN • Minot High School freshman Emily Hamel practices the backstroke Wednesday at Magic City Campus.
The Magicians are three years removed from a state championship, after six straight titles from 2003-08. Bismarck Century has claimed the past three titles.
"As far as finishing this season, I just want to make the podium," Hinton said. "I'll be happy with making the podium. I like to improve on the year before. That's usually my goal."
Hinton said that the strengths of this year's team will be the relays and the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
August - 24, Fargo Davis Double Dual, 5 p.m.; 25, Fargo North Invite, 10 a.m.
September - 7, vs Mandan, 5 p.m.; 8, Minot Invite, 11 a.m.; 11, vs Jamestown, 5 p.m.; 15, Bismarck Invite, 10 a.m.; 21, at Grand Forks Central/UND, 5:30 p.m.; 22, UND Invite, 10 a.m.; 27, at Williston, 5 p.m.; 29, Mandan Invite, 10 a.m.
October - 6, Dickinson Invite, 11 a.m.; 9, WHS Dual, 5 p.m.; 15, at Mandan, 5 p.m.; 23, at Bismarck High/Century High, 5 p.m.; 27, Jamestown Invite, 10:30 a.m.
November - West Region, 2:30 p.m.; 9, State Meet Preliminaries, 3:30 p.m.; 10, State Meet Finals, 1:30 p.m.
Hinton expects some of the younger swimmers to step up and challenge the more experienced members of the team. Sophomores Alexis and Sydney Clark are aware of the high expectations generated from their older sister Katie's tenure with the team. Katie, described as "an all-around swimmer" by Hinton, also graduated in May.
Sydney's potential was seen in last year's state meet when she finished in eighth place in the 100 backstroke. Katie finished ninth in the same event.
"She left me with such high expectations," Sydney said. "I want to get faster like she was and improve as my years go on with swimming."
There won't be a sibling rivalry in the pool as Sydney swims the 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. Alexis competes in the 200 and the 500 freestyle. Sydney finished ninth in the 100 butterfly at the state meet last season and has specific goals for each of her events.
"I want to be at 59 or 58 (seconds) on my backstroke," she said. "I want to go a minute flat in the 100 butterfly, and for my individual medley, probably around two minutes and 15 seconds."
The team opens the season at 5 p.m. Friday in the Fargo Davies Double Dual.