Dave Huffmire couldn't have asked for a better way to wrap up his stay as head coach of Carson High School's swimming and diving program.
The Senators will be at home challenging for championships at the Northern 4A zone meet today and Saturday at the Carson Aquatic Club.
"We're ready to showcase the new pool with a strong team," said Huffmire, who will be in his final zone meet as head coach at Carson. "We're looking forward to this. This is our pool, our water, our walls and lanes. I won't say we'll have a home pool advantage, but there is a certain familiarity and the kids are motivated to do well in front of the community."
Competition gets underway at 2 p.m. today with the trials, and it picks up again Saturday morning with the diving at 9 a.m. The swimming finals start at 2 p.m. Saturday.
If everything holds true to form, Reno and Carson will be the chief team title contenders, along with Reed and McQueen. Reno swept both the boys and girls team championships at zone last year and the Huskies won their third straight state boys team title, but Carson's girls finished up No. 1 at state.
In fact, the Senators have won four straight state girls championships and seven in eight years. There's no sign of any drop off anytime in the near future either.
"This is the strongest team I've had," said Huffmire, who has guided the Senators to a total of eight girls and boys state titles during his seven seasons as head coach. "I don't know know if we can stay with Reno's depth at zone. We probably won't win, but we're not concerned about that. What we're concerned about is qualifying people in the top four places and getting them to state."
What the Senators lack in quantity, they more than make up for with quality.
For example, the girls squad is led by a six-swimmer nucleus that includes Jessie Hong, Megan Keller, Lauren Costella, Tara Theilemann, Julie Hardt and Kate Hardt.
Julie Hardt, a senior who is bound for the U.S. Olympic Trials and then to the University of Georgia, set zone and state records in the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle, as well as the 400 freestyle relay.
Hardt posted times of 2:03.61 in the I.M. and 4:56.57 in the 500 freestyle at state while Carson's 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams set state records with times of 1:52.44 and 3:32.93.
On the boys side, Carson is led by the nucleus of freshman Justin Barber, sophomore Ryan Theilemann plus seniors Evan Fischer and Ryan Costella. The two seniors recently signed Division I letters of intent, Fischer with Tennessee and Costella with Villanova.
"They're all excited, so now we're just hoping for strong performances from everybody," Huffmire said.