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Swim season — Kearns' Cougars are strong favorites to win

DRAPER — The swimming feats of Natalie Edge haven't been swept under the rug or anything like that, but for a junior who's won all four of her individual state events, little had been written or said about the superstar before the season began.

But hey, that was just fine with her.

"I kind of like to be in the background," Edge said. "I don't like being the center of attention."

That's a luxury Edge won't have this season.

She managed to avoid center stage during her first two seasons, mainly because she swam alongside Kearns' Jennifer Fredsall. Fredsall won the Class 5A Swimmer of the Year in 2005 but has since moved on to the University of Utah.

Accordingly, Edge will be leading the Cougars' team this season as they look to continue their impressive run near the top of Class 5A.

Because the prep swimming season is only a month old, there's still plenty of time for the Kearns' coaching staff to decide which two individual events Edge will swim in at state. Regardless of where she swims, however, she's already racked up impressive times in a host of events and will contend with a trio of other swimmers for outstanding female swimmer honors. Those other three would be Brighton's Ana Agy, Skyline's KC Albiston and Skyline's Anna Crandall.

As far as both of the Cougars' teams are concerned, they'll once again be competing for top honors in 5A, and as usual, it looks like Skyline will be in the way.

For Kearns, however, one good thing has come out of realignment — the Cougars will be strong favorites to win both region titles this season. That's because realignment has taken Skyline out of Region 3.

"That's really nice," Horne said about being the favorite to win Region 3. "It's always a goal and to have that opportunity is great . . . I think Bingham will give us strong competition."

It could be easy for the Cougars to get frustrated about Skyline. Kearns has built an outstanding program over the past decade, but all its accomplishments have been overshadowed by Skyline's state wins. Instead of getting frustrated, though, Horne doesn't let it bother him.

"Swimming's just different from other sports," he said. "Swimming is still mostly an individual sport."

After a meet against Riverton last week, Horne wondered if his training routine wasn't catching up with his swimmers.

"The training is starting to get to them," said Horne.

To combat that, Horne said it'll be important to keep things in perspective.

"You have to keep the kids mentally focused," he said, "and realize what's ahead. They may hit their top time only once a year."

Region 3 boys' swimming

(Predicted order of finish)

1. KEARNS: With Skyline finally out of the region picture, the Cougars should be in prime position to collect the Region 3 championship at the end of the season. Senior ToddBradley (100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke) anchors the team, and DavidChandler (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle), IsaacMcElhaney, JustinChristiansen, AdamHuff and CoryMcLaughlin are all expected to provide important contributions to the squad. 2004 state meet: second place.

2. BINGHAM: Senior TrevorSalt anchors the Miners boys' side and arguably could contend for Boys Swimmer of the Year in 5A. Salt currently has the top time in the 100 IM and also had outstanding times in the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke. Behind him, JoshRueckert (50 free and 100 free), CJDowns (200 free) and ChrisAnderson headline a fairly deep roster. Bingham will go head-to-head with Kearns for the Region 3 championship, and the Miners' will fight with Kearns and Brighton for second place at the state championships. 2004 state meet: fourth place.

3. WEST JORDAN: Behind sophomore sensation JordanFletcher, the Jaguars could easily be the surprise of Region 3. Fletcher is currently ranked first in the 50 free and 100 fly. Additionally, he has solid times in several other events. Behind him, AustinSperri and AnthonyFabela, among others, look to anchor the Jaguars' team. 2004 state meet: seventh place.

4. HUNTER: Coach ShawnMarsing looks to rely on a pair of captains on his boys' side. Senior AndrewChristensen is the Wolverines top returning swimmer. He'll be competing in the sprinting events. Another captain, TylerMarsing will compete for region honors from 200 and 500 freestyle events. Hunter's boys team will likely slot behind Kearns and Bingham at the Region 3 meet. Marsing has taken over the team from his father SteveMarsing, who's pursuing an administrative position. 2004 state meet: third place.

5. COPPER HILLS: The Grizzlies have 60 total swimmers in their program. Senior captain AdamBohm will be a critical part of this year's boys' team, as well as juniors' KyleCorbett, MatthewOlsen and ZachHarris. Copper Hills notched a win over Taylorsville in a dual meet earlier this season. They also swam well in a meet featuring Murray and Cedar. 2004 state meet: 14th place.

6. RIVERTON: The Silverwolves are transitioning with new coaches this season. Riverton's 400 freestyle relay team is comprised of RyanRobbins, KolbyDecker, AndrewBradbury and PrestonHooser, and those swimmers will help lead the rest of the team. 2004 state meet: 17th place.

Region 3 girls swimming

(Predicted order of finish)

1. KEARNS: Junior NatalieEdge will contend for Swimmer of the Year honors in 5A and is the best swimmer in Region 3. The Cougars have good depth behind her, too. TimbrellHuff, MeganRaby, AddyMarsh, LaurenStapley, StephanieFresall (younger sister of JenniferFredsall) and ChristieBergesen should all score lots of points for Kearns down the road at state. 2004 state meet: second place.

2. BINGHAM: Led by co-head coaches AndeeBouwhuis and MikeCordray, this squad boasts a very strong freshman group, which will be mixed with the upper classmen. WhitneyDimick, NatalieRasmussen and AmandaMemmott should all manage to compete for region honors. 2004 state meet: sixth place.

3. HUNTER: RachelCoombs finished second in the 100 backstroke at last year's state meet, and she'll be looking to improve on that finish this season. Coombs is also slated to swim in the 200 IM (She finished fifth there in 2004). Captain CherisseMecham (100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke) will be a key part of the Wolverines' squad. Should finish second or third in the region. 2004 state meet: fourth place.

4. COPPER HILLS: A trio of sophomores looks to lead the Grizzlies in 2005-06. LaniHind, KristenWestover and SarahDoyle all hope to qualify for the state meet and do well at region, too. Captain ShayLeeBell will be called upon to provide team leadership. 2004 state meet: 12th place.

5. WEST JORDAN: JessicaMargetts, AngieTerry and KelseyFindlay are expected to provide part of the nucleus of the team. CharityClayton is another swimmer that looks to qualify for state. 2004 state meet: 16th place.

6. RIVERTON: This team hosts its home meets across the valley at Draper's Tree House Gym. KarisSteadman has a solid time at the 100 breaststroke. KayleeFuller (freestyle) aims to play an important role, in addition to swimmers like KarisSteadman and KristenGerth. 2004 state meet: did not qualify.