COOS BAY — Marshfield swim coach Kathe McNutt always expects a lot of her team captains, and this year her three senior leaders have more than lived up to the job description.
“They’ve been awesome,” she said of Zach Randle, Kady Cooley and Macey Goodrich.
It started before the season, when the trio put in extra effort to gain more swimmers for the team.
“Part of why my team is big is they went out and encouraged people,” McNutt said. “My other team captains have done that (in the past), but they went above and beyond.”
The seniors organized a team meeting complete with pizza, to try to recruit students, and then they had another.
And, Cooley noted, most of the students who came to the second meeting joined the team.
“And they brought more people,” Goodrich said.
The result has been the biggest team Marshfield has had in recent years, giving the Pirates high hopes to claim the titles at the Class 4A-3A-2A-1A District 4 championships on Friday and Saturday in Cottage Grove.
With a bunch of younger swimmers the captains, also including junior Robert Kliewer, have had extra work to do helping their teammates learn the ropes and to keep them in line.
“We also keep the team motivated (at meets),” Randle said. “We keep everybody cheering (each other) and knowing that they have support.”
In practices, Kliewer is the loud captain, with a booming voice that makes the younger swimmers listen to him, the seniors said.
Randle is “the nice one,” the girls said, always comforting the swimmers.
Goodrich helps make sure the younger swimmers know where they are supposed to be and when.
Cooley always has a first aid kit nearby for situations that come up and also has become the swim team taxi.
“She’s the one that gives us rides,” Randle said.
In that role, Cooley has had a close view of what all the captains say is one of the best parts of the team.
“I like to see people make friends on the team and get closer,” she said. “I didn’t know a lot of the freshmen when the season started, but I’ve been driving them around and got to know them. It’s super fun getting to know them and seeing them become friends.”
Along the way, the younger swimmers also have gotten faster, which combined with the veterans from last year’s teams that both won trophies at the state meet, has helped build Marshfield into a strong team.
“Since they have started, I have watched how they have all been developing their new skills,” Randle said. “Going through the season there have been some tremendous changes.”
And often, the seniors said, the younger swimmers don’t realize just how much better they have gotten.
“I’m definitely happy with the team improvement,” Goodrich said.
Entering the district meet, Randle is seeded first in the 500-yard freestyle and second in the 200-yard freestyle for the Pirates.
Aaron Hutchins is seeded third in the 200 freestyle and second in the breaststroke.
Kliewer is seeded second in the individual medley and fifth in the breaststroke.
Other Marshfield boys also should make the top finals heat, with the fastest eight swimmers from the preliminaries, which scores more. And because of their big team, the Pirates can put the maximum four swimmers in all the events, which can lead to more scoring with the points spread out among the district’s 12 teams, and the Pirates should place high in all three relays, which score double.
Marshfield’s girls similarly should do well.
Cooley is seeded first in both the 200 and 500 freestyle races. Paige Kirchner is seeded in the top three in both the 500 freestyle and butterfly. Mira Matthews is seeded third in the 50 freestyle. Sydney Trendell is seeded fourth in the breaststroke and fifth in the individual medley.
Several other teammates are seeded in the top eight for the girls and, as with the boys, the relays should score well, seeded first in each event.
The young swimmers give Marshfield high hopes in the coming years.
“I’m excited to see what the future team looks like,” Randle said. “I’m excited about the potential.”
First though, the Pirates want to do well this week, and the captains helped get them some extra motivation.
“Kathe said if both teams win districts, she will dye her hair purple,” Cooley said.
The players had hoped for a complete dye, but said they were only able to talk McNutt into getting highlights. That’s been motivation enough to get a lot of the younger swimmers excited to do as well as possible, Goodrich said.
Cooley sees it as a perfect finish to a good career for the senior captains.
“Instead of giving her gray hairs, which we normally do, we will be giving her purple, which is an upgrade,” Cooley said.