Well-rounded leadership

Senior Peyton Huss leading with positivity for MHS swimming & diving

Ashton Gerard/MDN Minot High School senior Peyton Huss takes a breath during the breaststroke portion of his 200-yard individual medley at Magic City Campus earlier this season.

Another practice down, another step closer to the state meet for the Minot High School boys swimming and diving program. Two-a-days and multiple meets in a week can make for a long and tough season, but senior Peyton Huss is constantly leading the defending state champion Magicians with determination, focus and a smile.

“All four years, Peyton has been an incredible guy to have on the team,” head coach Jake Solper said. “He brings a lot of talent in the water, but maybe more importantly he has always brought a lot of leadership and a lot of humor to the team which is something you always need — guys that are willing to keep things light.”

With the grind of the regular season, it can be hard at times to see what all this work right now is going towards. But, having athletes like Huss can help enhance the team’s chemistry and motivation to keep going.

“The guys around Peyton are always affected in a positive manner,” Solper added.

Huss’ swimming career started in the fourth grade when he was urged to join the swim club after taking swim lessons. He started focusing on backstroke, but quickly realized that butterfly was his true passion.

“Now I mainly swim fly and freestyle, a little bit of I.M. (individual medley) here and there,” Huss said.

Branching out his sophomore year, Huss decided to try the 500-yard freestyle event at the Mandan Invite to “take a break” from his main events before the WDA and state meets. The results came as a surprise to Solper.

“He’s a really phenomenal flyer for us and nearing the end of (his sophomore) season he decided to try the 500 free and he did very well,” Solper said.

Due to the needs of the team at the time, Huss quickly transitioned to the 500 freestyle for the final meets of the season to become a point scorer needed in the event.

“I don’t know how excited he really was about that,” Solper said. “But he did understand that he had pretty strong abilities to do the 500, even though the fly was his passion.”

Taking a break from one of his main events turned into a brief hiatus for Huss and, though it was a different state experience than what he had planned for, he did it for the good of the team.

For many years now, that’s been the culture at Minot High with athletes having to be versatile swimmers. They train hard in every single event so that, if the time comes, they can shift athletes to different strokes to remain successful and earn points needed for the team’s overall score.

“He continues to be a very versatile swimmer,” Solper said about Huss. “We have a number of guys on the team who have the same kind of traits as Peyton in that manner. We can put them in a variety of different events.”

Now in his senior year, Solper would like to swim Huss in events that he is passionate about and wants to shine in. But, being the team player that Huss is, Solper knows that if they need him to swim a different event for the team’s success, he won’t hesitate to jump in the water.

Huss has been to the state meet every season of his high school career, so coming up to the end of the season, the hype isn’t something new for him. But, it does mean something a little different each year.

In his freshman year, Huss placed 19th in the 200 individual medley and 17th in the 100 butterfly, just a few places from scoring position.

Distance freestyle dominated Huss’ sophomore year as he took 12th in the 200 freestyle and 10th and the 500 freestyle, scoring points for the team.

In the championship season during Huss’ junior year, he took 12th in the 200 freestyle and seventh in the 100 butterfly.

Currently this season, Huss has yet to hit a personal best, but for him that’s pretty normal. The Magi are in the meat of their training and Huss has been shuffling around some of his events while focusing mainly on butterfly, distance freestyle and the individual medley.

“As long as you push yourself in every race and you feel like you did the best you can, that’s all you can ask for at this time (in the season),” Huss said.

In addition to being a team player, Huss was voted a team captain this season alongside fellow seniors Steve Novak and Mikel Bahl. Solper said it’s been a tradition to let the team decide who they want to see as captain.

“It was cool to be selected but I think every senior does their own part, I don’t really think we have captains,” Huss said. “I think we’re just one really close, connected team. I don’t think the title means much because I think we’re all captain, that’s how I see it.”

The attitude on the team this season has been focusing on maintaining their championship status. The atmosphere at practices and at meets has been at an all-time high according to Huss.

“There’s laughter at every practice, but there’s not a day we don’t work hard,” Huss said. “We look around and we see all the banners and that’s what pushes us to get more. Everyone has shown up on time and we’re really pushing each other at meets. We’re cheering louder than I’ve ever heard us cheer before and we want everyone from our eighth-graders to our seniors to succeed. We’re pushing everybody and it’s just really a great atmosphere to work hard and improve.”

The Magi have maintained a strong depth over the past few years and that’s important heading into the final meets of the season because every point counts.

“For the teams that do well, everyone needs to do their part,” Huss said. “With us having so many guys, everyone needs to do their part to get as many points as possible and I think that’s what a team is and I think we do that very well.”

Moving forward, Huss is focused on swimming personal bests and is excited to see everyone else on the team succeed.

“For me, I just want to see everyone do the best they can, I want to see everyone get personal bests, and I know they will,” he said. “I just want everyone to be able to see that the hard work will pay off.”

Sports Spotlight is a weekly feature profiling interesting people affiliated with sports in the region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Email the sports department at sports@minotdailynews.com.


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