There is only one season of firsts.
This season the Barton men’s and women’s swim teams will experience that. The first season as a program at the school. It opens with the first meet of that first season this upcoming weekend.
Getting to this point has been a learning process for Coach Jonathan Reeder and his Cougar swimmers.
“I have been getting a lot of help,” Coach Reeder said of starting the program from scratch. “I have been getting help from places I didn’t even begin to expect. Other coach, the athletic staff, and so on have been so helpful.
“I didn’t even really know where to start and where to go with everything. As things have come along, we, as a team, combat them and find out the best possible answers. It has been a learning curve since day one.”
The Cougars will take to the pool Friday and Saturday with meets in Iowa and Missouri.
Barton will compete against Iowa Central and Iowa Lakes in Fort Dodge, Iowa Friday then take the roughly 4-hour trip down to Liberty, Mo. to take on William Jewell and Midland University the following day.
“We are going to see what we are made of, that’s for sure,” Coach Reeder said. “There is going to be a lot of traveling and it’s tolling to have two full meets back-to-back.”
Reeder comes to the Cougars from Wichita Heights, where he was an assistant on the Falcons team that won the Class 5-1A state title last season. In fact, in three years he helped with the program, Heights won two state titles and finished second by 1/2 point the other season.
His first men’s roster is made up mostly of swimmers from the Great Bend area from Coach Reeder’s home base of the Wichita.
“I definitely want to let the community of Great Bend know this is their team,” Coach Reeder said. “We are starting it here and we have kids from here to build around.
“I know Wichita swimming really, really well and I brought in a lot of kids from that area.”
Of the 10 members on the inaugural squad, four are from Great Bend – Corey Harbaugh, Austin Livingston, Phane Pedigo, and Sean Williams.
Five come from the Wichita area including Heights products Noah Childs and Dawson Gantenbein. Elijae Draper and Bailey Chavez are Wichita West graduates while Keagan Wilson is from El Dorado.
The lone member not from those two areas is William Spitz from San Antonio. Coach Reeder knows him from his upbringing in Wichita. In fact, Coach Reeder swam against his brother.
The women will have five swimmers in their initial season.
Madgiel Rodriguez from Great Bend, Reagan Smyth from Scott City, Kayla Hennen from Bishop Carroll in Wichita, Mercedes Mahakijkittichai from Olathe South and Sydney Williams from Lawrence Free State will comprise the 2017-18 club.
“I was a men’s coach in high school, so it’s been a lot more getting to know the women’s circuit,” Coach Reeder said. “We will have a dramatically larger team next year now that I have gotten to know coaches and regulars out there.
“But this year we have a solid base of girls willing to work hard and the tools to be good.”
After the openers this weekend, Barton will not be back in competition until November. Barton will have meets in Salina and Sioux City, Iowa that month then have one meet in December at Conway, Ark. before the end of the first semester.
The season hits high gear and January and February before the post season in March.