Third-year Mingus Union swim coach Gretchen Wesbrock feels like she is building a base of trust with the athletes that are on her team now.
Westbrock sensed a little apprehension from the athletes she inherited her first year as coach. Some of the seniors on the team wondered if she knew what she was talking about. Last year, those questions disappeared as the team bought in and understood she knew what she was talking about.
"I've already seen a difference in the team," Westbrock said. "I've seen them come together as teammates in an individual type of sport; it's fun to watch them just begin to bond and support each other and challenge each other in the first couple days of practice."
Coach Westbrock and her assistant coach, husband John Wesbrock, brought with them not only knowledge but a work ethic to make the swim team successful. The Mingus athletes trusting in their coach has made a big difference in the team's performance and outlook.
Both coached the club swim team, the Cottonwood Clippers, during the summer. The athletes she is coaching are four freshmen, four sophomores, four junior and two seniors.
"We had a chance to coach a lot of these athletes this summer," Wesbrock said. "So we have had a chance to build those relationships, so that the athletes get used to our coaching techniques, and we are able to look at their strokes and do the things we know we need to get them to improve."
The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) changed divisions. It was a two division sport with swim and dive the last couple of years. Smaller schools in Division II and larger schools in Division I. Mingus was in the mid-range of Division II, so they faced bigger schools with more kids than the Mingus swim team was trying to compete against for state.
This year the Marauders have been moved to Division III which is smaller division, but makes it easier for Marauders swimmers to qualify for state.
Most people who are not involved in high school swimming might not know how it works. Mingus will have dual meets and tri-meets this season. They have five this year at home and one away.
"Those meets are about swimmers improving their time," Coach Wesbrock said, "and working as a team, showing their school pride." "When you defeat another team you can say, 'Hey, we beat Prescott or Bradshaw.'"
For swimmers that have state aspirations, they will have to qualify in the top 24 at an Invitational. Mingus will have the opportunity to swim in four Invitational this season. Those are usually held on Saturday, with at least 25 teams.
The top 24 individual swimmers in every event will qualify for state in each bracket. And 16 relays in each Division, will qualify for state.
"I think with the group we have here, we will defiantly be taking a boy's relay to state, in two of the relays," coach Wesbrock said. "And a girls' team, if not two different girls team in relay to state."
Wesbrock mentioned Gunner Tillemans, a junior was injured last year, has come back strong in practice so far. As a sophomore he qualified for state, and thinks he should have another outstanding season.
Dallin Gordon and Fletch Fangman are sophomore's this year went to state as freshmen on the relay team last year. Coach thinks they are hungry for additional success.
On the girl's team there is a lot of depth with only one senior, on the boy's team there is no seniors.
Returning to the team is Skylar Mohr a junior, looking to qualify the 200 and 500 freestyle. Moore participated in state last year in a relay.
Emily Dorris a senior went to state last year, along with Emily Grasso. Grasso is a 50 and 100 freestyle sprinter. Hannah Arwine is a sophomore who went to state last year in a relay, is hungry for more success.
"The swimmers who went to state last year are hungry," Westbrock said. "The athletes that went to state realize what they need to do now to be able to qualify."
In swimming the clock doesn't lie. The times will tell, and if the athletes can improve their swim time then it will be a successful season.
"I would love to see as many swimmers qualify for state," Westbrock said, "but I just want to see improvement, and if they drop time it would be a personal improvement for them. If the swimmers qualify for state, that would be a bonus."