Glacier’s Unbeatable Swimmers

By Beacon Staff

Glacier High School has had strong boys swimming teams in the past, but this is the first time the Wolfpack have been unbeatable.

With only two meets remaining before state in Butte on Feb. 11-12, Glacier’s boys are undefeated, including a convincing victory at home over the weekend.

On Jan. 8 at The Summit Medical Fitness Center pool in Kalispell, the Wolfpack took first place by blowing past Missoula Hellgate, Missoula Big Sky/Loyola, Missoula Sentinel and last-place Flathead. The girls finished third, followed by Flathead.

Not only have the Glacier boys not lost a meet this season, they haven’t even lost a single relay, head coach Brandon Rannebarger said. Rannebarger is the head coach for both Flathead and Glacier.

Leading the way for Glacier’s boys are Jordan Loyda, Josh Loyda, Logan Streit, Jacob Williams and Aaron Murry.

“The depth and the talent and the overall heart of the boys is really working right now and they’re working together and they’re getting the job done,” Rannebarger said.

Rannebarger said Glacier has 29 swimmers overall – 16 girls and 13 boys. Flathead, however, only has five boys and four girls. Part of the large discrepancy in turnout, he said, is the way the school district is divided.

Many of Flathead’s students, Rannebarger said, come from the south part of town all the way down to Flathead Lake. With practices beginning every morning at 5:30 a.m. at The Summit, that’s a long haul for those students.

“We don’t know if our program’s reach goes all the way to the lake and those districts; there haven’t been a lot of kids from those districts in our feeder programs,” Rannebarger said. “And for kids from the south end, it’s a challenge for them to get out there at that hour for practice.”

Rannebarger said that he and his coaching staff have increased their recruiting efforts at Flathead over the past year and will continue to do so moving forward.

“We have some recruiting ideas for next year,” Rannebarger said. “We would like to see more kids from Flathead.”

Despite the small numbers on Flathead’s rosters, Rannebarger said “the swimmers we have right now are very talented.” For the boys, Lars Thorderson has grown from a mid-level swimmer into a legitimate contender in the 100-butterfly. Thorderson is also strong in the 200 medley, as he showed with a victory at The Summit.

“Lars, he’s just on fire,” Rannebarger said. “He’s really taking off right now.”

Johanna Ward, McKenzie Lane and Jenna Wilke have all turned in strong performances this year for Flathead’s girls, while Glacier has competitive swimmers in every event. Maxie Scroggs, MaKenna Siebenaler Shea Stevens, Samantha King, Maddie Walters and Jenna Kintzler all have the talent to place in individual events and to form strong relay teams.

“The girls have been struggling with sickness and health issues, but they’re starting to come together and I think toward the end of the season they’re really going to turn it on,” Rannebarger said. “They’re talented and I expect them to step it up.”

Flathead and Glacier have meets on Jan. 22 in Missoula and Jan. 29 in Helena. The state meet is in Butte on Feb. 11-12.

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