A coaching change and a smaller crew hopefully won’t deter the Wolves from a successful season in the pool, new head coach Britt Hemphill says.
Fresh off a season of coaching Port Angeles’ girls to a sixth-place finish at the state 2A meet, Hemphill takes over a Sequim boys team that sees a team of just nine athletes prepping for competition in 2019-2020.
“This is the smallest team I’ve rolled with,” Hemphill said, “(but they are) buying into my vision of making this a great year.”
Last season the Wolves put 23 swimmers in the pool and posted a 1-5 league record. Sequim sent three relays while Jax Thaxton added a pair of individual berths (50 free, 100 backstroke) at the state 2A meet, where the Wolves placed 21st in the team standings.
But Sequim lost nine swimmers to graduation and another seven decided not to turn out, leaving the team short of double figures.
Top returners include a trio of seniors in Deven Biehler, Jesse Bobst and Zen Graham along with junior Kaleb Needoba.
Hemphill said he will ask his crew to put in plenty of yards — “for a high school season, we put in the work,” he said — but the Wolves will taper at the end to help them peak in the postseason.
“The body really responds with significant work (with) rest at the end,” he said.
The Sequim coach said he will have his team, one that includes five seniors and seven returners overall, to focus on their best strokes.
At a preseason practice Hemphill — a four-year swimmer at UCLA whose top discipline was the backstroke — noted he’s getting to know each of the Wolves’ swimmers and their strengths, but that it’ll take some competition to bring out which are their best strokes.
Sequim won’t be short on top competition this season. Starting the campaign, the Wolves face defending state 2A champion Olympic (Dec. 10) and third-place finisher Kingston (Dec. 12). In January, the Wolves get seventh-place finisher North Kitsap (Jan. 16) and 11th place Klahowya (Jan. 23).
“It’s going to be tough: the Olympic League is loaded with team talent,” Hemphill said.