Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Hopes Get Soaking, but Loss of Pair Not Fatal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Hopes Get Soaking, but Loss of Pair Not Fatal

Article excerpt

The Fort Zumwalt North swimming team seemed to be on the right track.

A year ago, the Panthers finished 17-5-2, by far their best season in school history. They had a solid returning group of swimmers and divers and eagerly awaited the 1995-96 season.

Then two of their better swimmers, backstroker Doug Wolff and breaststroker Tarl Reeves, moved out of the district.

"It took me by complete surprise," coach Roger Eastman said. "Their families moved right before the start of the school year, so there was no warning at all. At the start of the school year, when I didn't see them around school, I asked around and that's when I got the bad news."

Eastman continued: "The thing I've always tried to do with this program is build from year to year. You like to have experienced guys in each stroke so there's not a lot of pressure on the younger guys. With Doug and Tarl in the lineup, we would've been in good shape this season. But now, with younger, less-experienced swimmers in their spots, we're struggling a little bit. The guys who've stepped into those spots are working hard and they're doing the best they can.

"Ideally, they'd be in secondary roles right now, working on their strokes and preparing to step up for us next year. But we don't have that luxury now. These guys have been forced into a meat grinder and they'll be trying to learn as the season goes on."

The Panthers are off to a 2-1 start; they lost 92-77 to Hazelwood West before beating University City 108-65 and Berkeley 134-28. Saturday, at the Fort Zumwalt North/McCluer North Relays at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, North finished fifth out of 10 teams. Fort Zumwalt South won the event.

"We were third going into the backstroke and breaststroke . . . ," Eastman said.

The Panthers return a number of top swimmers, including state hopefuls Kevin Mabie (distance freestyle) and Kevin Slagle (sprint freestyle). Both are juniors. …

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