How a team looks on paper borders on irrelevant if the athletes don’t constantly strive for improvement.
Welcome to the offseason mission of Franklin Community High School boys swimming coach Zach DeWitt.
DeWitt watched with tremendous pride last weekend as the Grizzly Cubs finished 11th in the team standings at the annual IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI.
He will, however, be promised nothing next season simply because state finalists Adam Destrampe and Clayton Culp return for their senior seasons.
“It all starts in the offseason, and I can’t emphasize that enough. We think if we get everyone to commit in the summer that we can be as high as fifth (at the state meet) next season,” DeWitt said.
“It’s our job as coaches to keep them motivated.”
DeWitt points to Avon as being the ideal blueprint.
As recently as 2010 the Orioles didn’t produce a single point in the state finals and were good for only one point in 2012. Last season Avon secured ninth place with 97 points and last weekend took home the runner-up trophy after generating 198 points and an individual state champion, 200-yard freestyle swimmer Parks Jones.
It comes down to want, work and the want to work.
The Grizzly Cubs are sure to miss the five seniors who depart from this season’s squad, most notably 200 IM sectional champion Kevin Stahl (who was also second in the 100 butterfly) and freestyle/breaststroke specialist Daniel Rice.
Stahl and Rice also comprised one half of the sectional-winning 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
“I’m excited to see how our team does, but two of our guys on relays are leaving, so we’ll see,” Destrampe said. “I would really like to see the team finish in the top 10 next season.”
Along with Destrampe and Culp, DeWitt anticipates a big senior season from Jimmy Pryor in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
The coach said sophomore-to-be A.J. Rice (100 free, 100 fly) might well be “the most talented guy on our team.”
Look for Aaron Lamm, brother of departing senior Daniel Lamm, to make noise in the 200 and 500 freestyle after placing in the top four at sectional in both events.
Josh Barrett will be producing points as a senior for the Grizzly Cubs in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, Chance Gildersleeve in the 200 and 500 free, and Aaron Adamson in the 100 fly and 100 backstroke.
Franklin also brings back swimmer Connor Lambert along with the Cubs’ three top divers from this season — Brion Brooks, Max Murr and Dylan Munn.
Back-to-back sectional championships — the first team titles in program history after 27 straight by Center Grove — provide the Grizzly Cubs a sturdy launching pad for the years ahead both locally and outside Johnson County.
In that 2010 state meet, the same one in which Avon produced a goose-egg, Franklin scored 74 points to place 11th. They’ve since finished 21st (2011), 14th (2012), 13th (2013) and now 11th again.
The next steps await.
“Honestly, after Friday we were in 12th place, so I was happy with 11th,” said DeWitt of last weekend’s preliminary competitions. “This was a much faster state meet than last year, but we’re returning a major portion of our team and would like to top our performance of this season.”
It all starts in the pool.
One season completed, another just beginning.