It's been barely two weeks since the Cranbrook-Kingswood girls varsity team brought home the school's first Division 3 state title in swimming and diving, but head coach Tony Kurth can't help but think about next year.
And with good reason. The Lady Cranes graduate just a few of the key members from this season's history-making title team and have plenty of youth to build around. Juniors Kylie Powrie, Emme Reasoner, Madeline Montgomery, Alexa Resetar, and Kendall Young, Sophomore Julia Briggs and freshman Larisa Kokubo will all return as multiple event scorers for next year.
They and divers Alexsandra Siems (senior) and Jacqueline Stein (sophomore) helped the team accumulate 328.5 points to beat East Grand Rapids (265.5 points) and Lahser High School (182),
Powrie stood out by taking the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle heats, and she was also on the winning 400-yard freestyle relay team.
The Lady Cranes will not only be deep in talent next season, but Kurth said the team will have the added valuable experience of finishing strong when it matters most.
"For next year, every girl has a greater understanding of personal relationships needed to have a successful team, beyond working hard," he said. "As leadership roles transition, the girls can only build upon what was established this year."
Even though they were ranked No. 1 for the majority of the year, Kurth said he wanted the team to focus immediately on lessons learned to help prepare for what opponents will bring to next year's meets.
"We have a very talented junior class, comprising of the majority of our state points, that will lead while being labeled the team to beat," he said. "The long road to next year starts today."
The key was commitment — not only to success, but to each other, he explained.
"This year, the girls were the most focused I have ever seen them," he said with pride. "This is the closest group of girls I have coached, and it showed throughout the season. The leadership of our seniors Milon Crawford, Molly Laubernds, Alexx Siems, Larissa Sambel and Sydney Sanders was really what gave us that edge. I know they will continue to give back as they move into their new roles in life."