Late bloomers

Low numbers will keep swim team from scoring big until state meet

Jim Vorhies doesn't expect his boys swim team will score many points this year until May. But that's when it counts.

"We don't have enough depth to make a showing until late," he said. "State is where we'll make our mark."

Depending on several late arrivals, the Bulldogs could have from 10 to 12 swimmers on the team. Either number would make it the smallest boys athletic team at Moffat County High School.

"We have five state-level swimmers and at least five other guys who work really hard," Vorhies said. "Those top four or five individuals could do extremely well."

The Bulldogs had eight seniors graduate and three would-be returners went out for track this year.

"We'll miss those guys (who went out for track)," Vorhies said. "But high school is too short to not allow guys to try other sports if they want."

The limited numbers have been noticeable in practice.

"It's frustrating at times because it is hard with only three guys in the pool sometimes," junior Zach Vorhies said. "We're not going to win a single meet this year, but it's still going to be incredible."

The incredible part of the team is the ability of five juniors. Vorhies, Chris Compton, Nick Ruckman, Andy Key and Blake Worsley will be the swimmers scoring most of the points for the Bulldogs.

Worsley, from Steamboat Springs, is joining the team for the first time. He has competed against the other juniors in summer club and decided to swim for a high school team this year. He joins, Key, from Rangely, and Ruckman, from Meeker, as out-of-town travelers. The five complement each other with their different strengths.

"We are all good at different strokes so that helps overall in the meets," Zach Vorhies said.

Vorhies is the breaststroke specialist, Compton is a two-time state qualifier in the backstroke, Ruckman's stroke is the butterfly and Key and Worsley add speed with their freestyle abilities.

In the team's first meet last weekend in Grand Junction, the 200-meter medley relay team missed qualifying for state by half of a second.

"We just missed the medley and we didn't have our best team," coach Vorhies said. "It is going to be an exciting year."

There are 12 events in every meet, so with six or seven varsity-level swimmers, picking and choosing who will swim what will be a challenge for the Bulldogs' coach. Vorhies already has his strategy laid out for state-qualifying swims this year.

"I think our top five can qualify all three relays and we're going for the short ones first," he said. "Later on we could have several individuals in that group go."

The team will have a shorter season this year with the district and state meets moved up one week. One less week doesn't faze Vorhies.

"Moving up state, as far as I'm concerned, it's beautiful," he said. "The kids are ready to move on to other things by then so it will help keep them focused."

Until May the team will be as focused as it can be on qualifying events for state.

"I'm looking forward to it," Zach Vorhies said. "I think we can set just as many school records as the bigger teams did the last couple of years."

The Bulldogs have three home swim meets this year. Their first one is at 4 p.m. Friday.

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