Catholic, St. Joseph’s again swim favorites _lowres

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON 2013 All-Metro swimming MVP Colin Bone of Catholic High School

Catholic High and St. Joseph’s Academy could write a book about longevity in high school swimming.

The Bears have won 24 straight Capital City Swim League Championships boys titles; the Redstickers counter with 14 consecutive girls crowns.

More of the same is expected this season in the 25-team league that starts its season with two Saturday meets at the Crawfish Aquatics pool. These facts won’t keep other teams from wanting more for themselves.

And why not? St. Joseph’s and Catholic swept the Division I state titles at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State meet. Episcopal claimed the Division IV girls title and was the boys runner-up. Lutcher was second in the Division III boys division, while Parkview Baptist was among girls teams.

“I like being in a competitive league,” Episcopal coach Stephen Anderson said. “You swim against the fast people like Catholic and St. Joseph’s and it’s only going to make you better late in the year. It pushes you.”

The first CCSL meets are set for 8 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Saturday and will feature only individual events. Though skeptics might question the value of a partial meet for teams like SJA and Catholic both coaches call it essential.

The Bears graduated some talented seniors but are still a relatively young team. Calling this Catholic team “The Young and the Relentless” may be right on the mark.

In addition to record-setting junior Colin Bone, who broke multiple LHSAA records as a sophomore, there’s sophomore Lance Michael Rodriguez along with juniors Connor Futch and Brady Grenfell lead the way.

“This is an important meet for us because we’re still trying to figure out where some guys will swim,” Catholic coach Doug Logsdon said. “We’ll have guys swim events that may not be their specialties because they may fit in those spots better this season. This meet gives us a chance to come up with the right combination.”

Bone was the All-Metro boys MVP in 2013. SJA’s Caroline Beene is back for her senior season after earning All-Metro girls MVP honors last year.

Another senior, Mary Claire Beaver, is also among the team’s seven seniors set to lead the Redstickers. Juniors Claire Charpentier and Amy Miller, along with sophomores Jeanne Frederic and Bethany Seagraves, are among the other key returnees.

“We did an intrasquad meet, which was good,” St. Joseph’s coach Becca Barber said. “There are things we’ll be able to see in this meet we haven’t so far. I know the expectations for this senior class are high.

“I think the potential to be even better on the relays than last year is there. There’s plenty of work ahead for us, so this is just the start.”

At stake for the SJA senior class is a possible fourth straight state title. Catholic has won two of the past three Division I boys titles, but Logsdon notes the strength of three New Orleans teams, traditional power Jesuit, Rummel and St. Paul’s. Mandeville and Northshore are expected to be two of the challengers for SJA.

The Episcopal girls are led by Chanler Turnley, Bailey Stevens and Dru Powell. The Dunham School’s Olivia Huffman, like Turnley, was a double winner at last year’s Division IV meet. Dunham’s Kirkland Mawae, was also a double winner at the state meet in 2013, helps lead the Division IV boys group.

“We know Ascension Episcopal is going to be after us on the girls side,” Anderson said. “Newman is always good. Newman won the boys title last year and they graduated some guys. They’ll be strong. I think St. Martin’s may surprise some people. We graduated several leaders but I think we have some younger guys who are ready to fill those roles.”

CCSL runner-up Lutcher graduated several key performs from its Division III runner-up boys team. LHS coach Lanny Remondet expects the spirit of Kadam Williamson to remain a driving force. Williamson, who would have been a senior this season, died following an auto accident days before last year’s state meet.

A broken pool pump has limited Lutcher’s practice time, making it tough for Remondet to gauge his team’s progress. That makes Saturday’s late meet an unusual early test for the Bulldogs, along with all the rest.