Brand new this year, the Forest Hills combined team has been split up, leaving a completely new division two Forest Hills Central team. Several past leaders of the team such as Henry Schutte and Ryan Talbot are gone, but returning swimmers such as Junior Avery LeTourneau and Senior Kyle Carter look to fill their spots as the Rangers establish themselves early in the season. The new team is an exciting prospect, and it is hard to predict how the team will do, but the future looks bright. Head coach Dennis Neat has a positive outlook on the new situation.
“Everything we do is something new for the team to embrace. Even competing at the State meet this year will be new,” Neat said.
While sophomore Benji Zorn sees the same positives as Neat, he also looks at it from a different perspective.
“A challenge with separating the team is breaking away the bonding and friendships with the FHN and FHE swimmers,” Benji said.
While the breaking up of a close-knit team does have unfortunate consequences, the team will now be given the opportunity to blaze its own path. The athletes will now be playing for exclusively their own school, a great experience that can be slightly dulled when combined with Northern and Eastern. This new season will be the test of the newly created team, and it will be exciting to see how they will perform.
Junior Avery LeTourneau, sophomore Cole Hysong, and senior CJ Hier make their return from last year. Avery took eighth in the state last year in the 100-yard butterfly and was a huge leader on the team. CJ secured tenth in the state in the 100-yard backstroke and will surely be a large part of the team’s senior leadership. Cole, a sophomore, is part of the large group of talented underclassmen on this team. He took 19th in the State semifinals and is an exciting part of this team.
The first meet of the year will be the Cereal Bowl Relays. Due to the new team, the relay teams will be completely changed. The team has only one returning swimmer from the state meet relay teams from last year: Avery LeTourneau. Last year, the combined team took second in the relay meet for the second year in a row. This gives the Rangers a high standard to live up to. Coach Neat will be looking at this meet to gauge the new team’s progress.
“While every meet is important, I guess you could say that the first meet is the most important one as it will provide the coaches a glance at how the training is progressing and where the team direction is heading,” Neat said.
Later in the season, the team will face off against some tough opponents. The toughest competition will come near the end of the conference meets. There, Spring Lake and EGR will test the skills of the new team. They are very good teams, and the Rangers will need to be at the top of their game to beat them.
“Most teams this year will be tough to match up against, especially EGR and Spring Lake… we have lost a few great swimmers that might affect our meets, but I still believe we’ll be able to accomplish a lot,” Benji said.
The team will be an exciting new venture for these swimmers. The Cereal Relay Meet and the East Kentwood dual meet will be the proving grounds for this new team, giving them an opportunity to create an exclusively Forest Hills Central tradition of success.
“We put in a lot of effort in practice, and I’m excited to see how we take off throughout our season,” Kyle said.