For about an hour after the Region V swim and dive meet preliminaries wrap up on Friday, Ketchikan High School head coach Gary Crowe will still be crunching numbers — adding and calculating, figuring out where Kayhi sits on the scoresheet before Saturday’s finals begin in Juneau.
“Probably an hour to score,” he told the Daily News over the phone on Wednesday. “What you have to do is score for each school. You're not just scoring for yourself. You're scoring for every team in regions, so you know where you're supposed to be. That's what I do.”
It’s the ideal Friday night for the longtime swimming coach — ‘tis the season for the postseason of high school swimming and diving.
But the one hour math session doesn’t even begin to show the depth of dedication he has to this year’s Kayhi squad. And since the beginning of preseason practices, in early August, the team has shared that same level of enthusiasm, devoting itself to the sport.
“What I usually do on Friday night, is I get the results and try to score out the meet, and see where we are,” Crowe said, as he described the process. “I don't tell the kids or anybody about that. I just do it for my own knowledge. But then I know, as we go through, whether we're ahead of schedule or behind schedule. It just helps me coach.
“So at the end of the meet, if we're supposed to score 100 points, and we score 120 points, I know we did a better job,” he continued. “If we're supposed to score 100 points, and we score 80 points, than I didn't do a good job.”
But in every invitational since the start of the school year, Kayhi has been staying afloat — winning meets and accumulating top awards — only adding to the anticipation for this weekend’s Region V championship meet in the capital city.
“It is exciting,” Crowe said. “We've been telling the kids since Aug. 4, this is the weekend we're shooting for. They've been listening, and they've been working hard; we've asked a lot out of them. So now we're resting up, getting ready.”
Yes, it’s been a little louder on the pool deck during practices at the Gateway Aquatic Center this week, as the group of teenagers has been amped up in preparation for the Region V meet. The team left Ketchikan after school on Thursday, and arrived in Juneau in time for dinner at Bullwinkle’s Pizza Parlor.
“When they're resting, they're a little more crazy on the deck; at practice they're a little more crazy because they're rested,” Crowe said. “… All the kids are getting excited. Each day getting a little more excited, I would say.”
In preparation for the regional championship meet, the First City squad began its tapering process last week. However, the Dash brothers — Trevor and Evan — are in the middle of that process now.
“Everybody else, I started resting last week, and they worked hard last week,” Crowe said of the brothers. “So I just started them tapering to have them swim their fastest (at state) in Anchorage. They'll swim fast this weekend, but they'll go faster, I'm hoping, in Anchorage. Everybody else will have to perform fast on Saturday to make state.”
The ASAA state swimming and diving meet is scheduled for Nov. 4-5 at Bartlett High School in Anchorage. This weekend’s Region V meet will be at Thunder Mountain High School’s eight-lane pool.
“We're going to shave almost everybody this weekend,” Crowe said. “We're going to take a chance on Trevor and Evan (Dash) this weekend and see if they can make it without shaving this weekend, and then shave for state.”
The top eight finishers in each swimming event during Friday’s preliminaries advance to Saturday’s finals. Saturday’s winners will advance to the state meet.
“We're a really young team,” Crowe said. “We're mostly freshmen and sophomores, so this will be our first time as a young group going to a big championship meet.
“We've been doing well,” he continued. “We've been swimming fast all season long, so I'm hoping we get a little faster. We've been beating Juneau schools at invites, but that doesn't really mean anything because they don't swim their best events until this weekend. So we'll have to put the pedal to the metal, and see how we do.”
With such a young group, the seasoned coach helps simplify the approach for a long championship weekend by telling his team to take each event individually, and have the mindset of one day at a time.
“What I tell the kids is, ‘Your whole goal on Friday is to make the top eight,’” Crowe said. “‘Figure out a way to get in the top eight. It doesn't matter if you're eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, whatever. You still get a chance to go faster from there. On Saturday, go for your best time.’”
And that mentality might play into Kayhi’s favor on the boys’ side. If it’s a ‘top eight’ approach on Friday, the depth of Ketchikan’s roster might give the Kings a Region V title.
“What I'm hoping is we get a lot of our boys into (the) finals,” Crowe said. “Our boys aren't going to be winning a bunch. Where we can do well, is we can put three or four swimmers in finals in every event. That's going to be good.
“We have more depth than (Juneau) has right now,” he continued, speaking of Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools. “So if we can finish second in every relay, that gives us a lot of points. ... It's kind of a numbers game.”
And Crowe likes numbers. Essentially letting both Juneau high schools duke it out for first place in various events on Friday, and Kayhi can stay steady in second place.
That adds up to a victory for the Kings.
“The boys' are real excited to be in the mix for the regional championship because we haven't been like that since I've been here,” Crowe said. “So this is the first time we've been in the mix since I've been here, so that's good.”
On the girls’ side, Kayhi is eyeing a top-three finish, overall. The Lady Kings will be in the mix, along with Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain, as well as Sitka, Craig, Haines, Petersburg and Wrangell high schools. All eight high schools will compete in the Region V championship meet this weekend.
“We have girls that are going to be swimming well,” Crowe said.
Kayhi’s Myleigh Sambrano will be a top contender in the girls’ 100-freestyle and 50-freestyle. Divers Emily Bolling and Kellyn Briggs also will vie for the top two diving spots in the region, as ASAA will accept both first and second place from Region V to advance to the state meet. Both Bolling and Briggs went to state last year.
“It depends on how well they dive Friday and Saturday,” Crowe said. “They'll do five dives on Friday and six dives on Saturday. Then (the officials) add them up — the 11 dives — take that score and then look at who's first and second, and they get to go to state.”
But aside from who advances on to Saturday’s finals, or who takes the top spot for an opportunity to represent Ketchikan at the state meet in Anchorage, there is one award in which each member of the First City’s squad can take part in and be proud of.
“We'll be trying to win the spirit award,” Crowe said. “You have to cheer for everybody, and you have to cheer all day Friday and all day Saturday. So if they can talk on Saturday night, we didn't do our job.”
It will be all hands on deck.
“We're going to be cheering everybody on, and make a lot of noise,” he added, “and swim fast, I'm hoping.”