Teams to watch
Glenwood Springs - The Demons return Sierra Grove, who placed seventh in the 100-yard freestyle in last year's state finals.
Montrose - The Indians return sophomore Emily Stucky, who placed fourth in the 200-medley at the state finals as a freshman.
Dates to circle
Jan. 3, 2009 - The Bulldogs host their lone home meet of the season.
Feb. 6, 2009 - Moffat County competes in the state regional tournament in Durango. This will be the last chance for the team to qualify for the season-ending state championships.
League: Western Slope League - class 4A
Coach: Meghan Francone
Years at Moffat County: First
Swimmers lost: Five
The Moffat County High School girls swimming team had to replace more than just the Conci sisters this past off-season.
The team also had to make an adjustment at the top when former coach Marin Campbell retired in February.
Meghan Francone was named head coach in June, jumping at the opportunity to take the reins of MCHS' girls swimming program.
"I was officially named coach right after the boys (swimming) season," Francone said. "It was an easy choice for me."
Francone has been assistant boys coach for the past two years, and coached the Craig Sea Sharks swimming program in 2007, so taking over the girls program was a natural fit.
The Bulldogs head into the 2008-09 season without the staple of the program the past four years: the Conci twins - Caitlin and Kelsey - who came away with five top-20 finishes at the state finals last year, including a gold and silver medal.
Helping Francone and the team's transition are diver - and Steamboat Springs resident - Genna Bradley, and MCHS senior Katherine Dodd.
Bradley finished seventh at last year's state championships as a sophomore - the highest place by an underclassman at the season-ending event.
Dodd is a long-distance swimmer, whose summer experience should pay off in Francone's eyes.
"Katherine has really been focusing on the (500-yard freestyle)," Francone said. "Qualifying for state in that event is her goal."
When it comes to goals, Francone takes them seriously.
Each member of the team was required to write their goals on a sheet of paper and submit them to Francone when practices began.
"I want them to be able to look at their goals, know where they are going and why they are here," Francone said. "It helps them have a plan of action for throughout the season."
Many of the swimmers on the team wrote down the same goal: qualify for the state finals.
"As a team, our main goal is always to get to state," Francone said. "If everybody completes their individual goals, the team goal will be easier to reach."
The team returns just five starters this season, but change is an attribute Francone said she embraces.
"This year is going to be all about team-worth," she said. "I want the team to be able to have self-respect for each other and to learn self-discipline. I think everybody lives in the here and now, and now, I'm here for a reason.
"For the love of the team and the love of swimming."
Swimmers to watch
Genna Bradley (junior) - placed seventh as a diver last season in the season-ending state championships. Bradley's finish was the highest by an underclassman at the event.
Katherine Dodd (Senior) - Francone said Dodd brings valuable senior leadership to a young squad, along with her long-distance skills in the pool.