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Two Warriors chasing school records at sectional

The Sterling boys swimmers practice Thursday at the Duis Center. The Warriors hope to finished in the top four at Saturday's Rock Island Sectional.
The Sterling boys swimmers practice Thursday at the Duis Center. The Warriors hope to finished in the top four at Saturday's Rock Island Sectional.

Sterling Golden Warrior swimmers have a wide range of goals for Saturday's Rock Island Sectional.

Some will be happy with a personal best time, even if that means not placing. Some are just determined to improve their seed to help the team move up in the standings.

A few have eyes on a state berth. Two of them have hopes to achieve Sterling swimming and diving history.

"We know that Dunlap is coming up, and that they are loaded," Sterling coach Kyle Ruiz said. "So, we expect they will take first in many of the events.

"We set a goal to get in the top four at the sectional this year. That would be an improvement from last year."

Senior Keaton Dir has lofty goals individually, and also thinks his team is ready to have a big day.

"We want to get into the top three," Dir said. "The whole team has been working hard, and I think everyone is ready to have their best times."

Dir has some lofty goals set for himself. He is seeded first in the 100 butterfly, and third in the 200 freestyle.

In boys swimming, only the event winner is guaranteed to qualify for the state meet. Every other swimmer must best the state qualifying standard.

Winning the event is important to Dir, but so is his pursuit of SHS history.

He is closing in on the school records in both events. Multiple-time state champion James Wike set the 200 freestyle record in 2001 at 1 minute, 45.04 seconds.

Steve Yemm set the 100 butterfly record of 54.00 seconds in 2007.

"I've talked to both of those guys, and they are rooting for me to get there," Dir said. "I am about a 1/2-second off the time in the 200 free, and 1/4-second off in the 100 fly. It's something I've been chasing my since freshman year."

"That's very lofty company that he's approaching," Ruiz said. "Those are two guys that are in the SHS Hall of Fame. He's put in the work, and we think that he has a very good chance."

One benefit of having a strong team like Dunlap in the sectional will mean that heats will likely be faster.

"It's alway good to swim against someone faster," Dir said. "It pushes you to do better, and can help everyone have better times."

Another Warrior with state and school records on his mind is junior Cade Coursey.

Coursey advanced to the state meet last year as a sophomore, and he feels like he has improved since then.

"I think the big difference is that I've improved my mental approach to the sport," Coursey said. "I used to get upset when I would miss a dive, and then that would lead me to struggling through the rest of my dives. Now, I am much better about letting a bad dive go, so that I can focus on the next one."

Coursey is eyeing a Sterling record, as well. He is chasing Matthew Whittaker's 11-dive record score of 417, set in 2004.

He is also pumped to see how his counterparts in the pool will do, even though the two events will happen at different venues. The swimming will be at Rock Island High School, while the diving will be at United Township High School in East Moline.

"That's the bummer about the sectional, is that we are in different places," Coursey said. "Otherwise, in most meets, we are right next to each other, rooting each other on."

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