by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Members of the Madras High School swimming teams listen to instructions during Monday's practice at the Madras Aquatic Center. Girls team has more depth that it ever has, coach says

During Monday's practice, Madras High School swimming coach Bobby DeRoest had a talk with the boys team about setting goals for the season.

Without much thought, the goal simply was to win another state championship

Coming off the first-ever state swimming championship for the White Buffalos, after four years of the program's existence, the Buffs return a boatload of talent and are primed to repeat as Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state champs this season.

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Madras High School swimming coach Bobby DeRoest addresses the team during Monday's practice. "When we were talking about the goals, just saying it fired the boys up quite a bit," DeRoest said about being the defending state champs. "With the team we have, there's no reason to achieve less than what we already have. We've got a ton of those kids coming back, and we're adding some freshmen strength to it as well."

Helping lead the charge for the Buffs this season are state champions Bryce Williams, Cade Boston and Ian Goodwin.

Boston and Goodwin swam legs of Madras' 200-yard medley relay team that won gold at last season's state championships in Gresham. The duo, along with graduated seniors Jordan Gemelas and Dustin Henderson, covered the distance in 1 minute, 45.56 seconds.

Williams was the team's only individual champ. He won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:48.68, finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:53.26) and swam on the third-place 400 freestyle relay team.

Goodwin earned a couple bronze medals to go with his relay gold. He finished third in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.

DeRoest said the losses of Gemelas and Henderson will hurt, especially from a relay standpoint, but he thinks he will have the swimmers to replace the points that left with graduation.

"We have to worry about ourselves, but there are a lot of good teams out there," DeRoest said. "If we work hard this season, stay together and keep each other accountable, repeating is definitely a possibility."

Williams, Boston, Goodwin, Josh Hocker, Brandon Hunt and Brady Tucker make up the core of the returning group of swimmers. With those six, plus a talented young group, teams around the state better recognize the Buffs wherever they go.

Garrett Webb and Vance Schierling are two of the swimmers DeRoest is most excited about having on board this season.

"I think Garrett has a chance to be a superstar this year," DeRoest said. "He should be able to come in right away and make an impact."

Keaton Hartman is another swimmer that DeRoest said should post better times than he did last season, and potentially qualify for the state meet.

On the girls side, DeRoest said the team has the most girls in the water it has ever had. The team finished sixth at the state meet last season, and was led by state champion Sophie Gemelas.

Gemelas earned a gold medal in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:14.84, and she also finished second in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.35,

Aurora Gerhardt is the other returning state placer for the Buffs. She snagged a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle and a sixth-place spot in the 100 backstroke.

"With the core of Sophie and Aurora, we've got some new faces that could make this team the best one we've ever had," DeRoest said.

One of the new faces to the pool isn't really new at all. Cirelle Frank, who was part of the Madras Swim Team club in her younger days, is out for the swim team this season. She is also playing on the basketball team, and DeRoest said Frank wanted to get back in the pool after the water polo season. It will be the first time Frank has participated on the high school team

"When she was going into junior high, she started to focus on basketball," DeRoest said. "But when she started playing water polo and getting back into it, she found out she needed to be in better shape, so she's trying to juggle swimming and basketball this year."

Coaches from both sports said Frank is an amazing athlete, so if anyone can pull off the basketball/swimming double, it's her.

Melissa Field, Elyse Bagley and Maya Hoaglin are all expected to contribute to the girls team this season. Field is a freshman, Hoaglin, a sophomore, and Bagley, a senior, trying out high school swimming for the first time.

"I've been really impressed with how Elyse has been doing," DeRoest said. "She's coming along and doing pretty good."

The swim teams kick off the season with a dual against Sisters on Thursday at the Madras Aquatic Center. They will host the Madras Relays on Saturday, as well.

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