Lakers hope not to miss a beat
Yes, the Detroit Lakes boys' swimming and diving team will have to make up a load of points after losing their 2011-12 core to graduation.
And yes, when the Lakers take to the pool in their season opener Saturday in Fergus Falls, there will be plenty of new faces looking to contribute.
But no, expectations are not any lower, even after losing four state qualifiers -- and one state champion -- off of last year's team.
"We may have a more spread out team scoring and not as top heavy, but we have a lot of guys who will surprise," said DL head coach Rian Heimark.
There still is plenty of proven talent returning for the Lakers, with senior Carter Krengel leading the way after a strong season last year, in which he finished by competing in the Class 1A state meet.
Sophomore Jared Olson has been laying back in the weeds waiting for his moment to shine, and this season has high potential to do just that.
"Jared has been waiting back in the shadows and now he is ready," Heimark said. "He has really grown up physically and I can just about put him in any event and he will do well."
Krengel made a state run in the 100-yard freestyle, as well as the 200-medley relay, where the Lakers had a record-breaking season in 2011-12.
"Carter has good experience and he is one of our best free stylers and can do all four," Heimark added.
Seniors Michael Okeson and Jordan George will also bring versatility to the team.
"Our relays will be one of our strongest suits, just because of our versatility," Heimark said.
Junior Isaac Clem will be strong in the freestyle races, along with junior Austin McCullough.
Juniors Michael Richter and Austin Nelson also are ready to make their contributions, as well as the younger swimmers, including sophomore Caleb Howard and freshman Jake Anderson.
Eighth grader Spencer Heimark will also be a contributor in the long-distance events.
"We had many swimmers who just made sections and they used that experience to the fullest," Heimark said.
In diving, the Lakers will be deep, with junior Mark Shipman eligible after transferring from Perham last year and returning eighth graders Zane Freeman and Andrew Holzgrove.
Junior Jake Kempenich also will have plenty of seasoning on the board this season.
The Lakers also have some encouragement after the number of sections were expanded from four to six, thus making the opportunity to qualify for state that much better.
The teams in Section 8-1A will go down from 15 to eight. Favorites in the section will include Fergus Falls, Alexandria and Bemidji.
But Heimark sees his team being a pleasant surprise in the section this year.
"We don't have to face such teams as Willmar and Hutchinson anymore in the section, so there is more opportunities for our kids now," Heimark said.
"I definitely see our younger kids stepping up. They are bigger, faster and stronger. Kids such as Ethan McCullough and Brady Labine look to be better and will surprise some people."
Heimark is confident in his depth, which will bode well for the Section 8-1A True Team meet.
"We can throw four guys into every event, since we have 32 on the roster," Heimark said. "I would also like to see the team taking that step from being section runners-up to being champions.
"They need to be in their right minds, but we'll have them ready for it by the end of the season."
The Lakers will host seven meets this season inside the BTD Aquatics Center, including the Mid-State Conference meet, which is Friday, Feb. 8.
The 2012-13 Detroit Lakes boys swimming and diving schedule:
8 at Fergus Falls
14 Thief River Falls
5 Detroit Lakes Invite
8 Morris Area
11 at Bemidji
15 at Park Rapids
19 at Bemidji (True Team Sections)
29 at Fergus Falls triangular
2 at Park Rapids
5 at Morris
8 Mid-State meet at Detroit Lakes
14 Thief River Falls
22-23 Section meet in Bemidji