Karen Bouda’s focus is on the relays this weekend for the State swimming championships in Great Falls, with a couple individual races in the back of her mind.
“I think that we’re really positioned well for the girls in the 100 backstroke and the 100 freestyle,” the first-year head coach said. On the “psych sheet” that coaches get from tournament officials, Flathead sophomore Lily Milner and Glacier senior Caroline Dye are 1-2 in both.
This please Bouda and her “one Brave Pack” approach to coaching both Kalispell schools.
“I think there’s a real positive out of that,” she said. “We have a chance to dominate those events and say, ‘Both those girls came from our valley.’ Yeah it’s a friendly rivalry, but I know Caroline would love to win those events.
“Either way we’re going to say, ‘Well, we just came here and crushed it.’ ”
The three relays count more than the individual events so Bouda hopes she has the right combinations in place to make noise. She likes the Flathead quartet of Dye, Eden Flake, Madyson Toren and Emily Cleveland. Also she lies Isaac Bertrand, Gus DeSouza, Derek Smith and Xander Stout.
Stout is seeded 12th in the butterfly. Likewise Bertrand might gain them time in the medley relays because of his breaststroke.
The Flathead Valley does have some points. Glacier’s Flake is seeded fourth in the 100 butterfly, and Bigfork’s Sophi Logue has the best time among Class A-B swimmers.
Flake is fourth also in the 500 freestyle, while Ayden Strobbe-Berry of Flathead is seventh in that race for the boys.
Whitefish’s Ada Qunell has the fastest time regardless of class in the 200 individual medley, and helped the Bulldogs win the state crown last year for small schools; teammate Preston Ring has the best time among A-B boys’ swimmers.
When it’s all done Bouda hopes as many swimmers get to race in Saturday’s finals as possible.
“I think we’re going to have a really good state meet,” Bouda said. “We’re really excited about it.”