The 2013-14 Morris boys swimming and diving team has 29 members. Seven are freshmen, and 21 of the other 22 were part of last year’s team.
Coach Andrew Porth thinks his “veteran-laden” team is capable of earning a number of medals at its final regular-season meet, Kankakee’s Kays Tune-Up, and a number of high places at the independent conference meet, which it will host Feb. 1.
Beyond that, Porth is trying to remain realistic.
“Our sectional is at Matea Valley. That’s always really, really strong,” Porth said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing these guys go out and give it their best because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”
Senior Jimmy Meridieth has been in the program long enough to know how difficult advancing in the state series can be. Nobody has represented Morris at the boys state meet since 2004, when Evan Harper competed in two events and James Comfort did so in one. Meridieth said his primary goals are to place at the conference meet and the sectional, but that he would like to go further.
“My light at the end of the tunnel, though, is to make state,” Meridieth said. “Definitely going to have to work very, very hard in order to get that.”
Another senior who may be on the verge of notable individual success is Jacob Beaudin. As a junior, Beaudin logged a personal-record time of 22.48 seconds in the 50 free, which is 0.12 seconds away from the school record of 22.36 seconds currently held by Comfort.
During the offseason, Beaudin said he spent about four hours a day swimming, on average. There also are obstacles that may have slowed him down last season that are less of a concern now.
“I had a lot of school work to do. I took very rigorous schedule at school, a lot of AP and honors classes,” Beaudin said. “That comes before swimming, unfortunately, so was not as focused on swimming, more focused on school.”
In addition to their individual events – the 50 free and the 100 free for Beaudin; the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley for Meridieth – Beaudin and Meridieth will be relay regulars for the Redskins. That also is true of Jackson Riley, who will swim the IM and the 100 breaststroke individually, and Jordan Ramirez.
“I’ve got some open spots – the 200 [free] and the 500 [free] – but right now that’s it,” Porth said. “I think it’s gonna be a good first few meets, but it’s gonna take a few meets for this team to realize where exactly we’re at in our second- and third-level swimmers.”