Gamester is part of a big junior class that also includes Kindra Gingerich, Rachel Johns, Elizabeth O’Donnell, Samantha Murphy, Alexandria Millikan, Kristine Dewhurst, Megan Floyd and Jordyn Harrison.
The sophomore class is led by Brooke Hardin and Mariah Roberts with Hardin on the mend from an injury. The freshman class is showing good potential with Jenna Harrison, Hallie Roth, Lexi Parrott and Abby Olsen leading the way.
The Harrison sisters are new to the school. Britten noted both are versatile swimmers, with strong age-group backgrounds.
Johns and Olsen are the Tigers’ top divers. Johns was runner-up in the event at the MIC meet last season.
Northwestern is hungry for another conference championship, but Britten knows the squad will have a target on its back.
“We’re trying to let them know that we have to work hard and that if this is a goal they want to achieve, it’s going to take all of them,” she said.
Northwestern opens tonight at Carroll.
The Panthers feel like they’re loading up for something big. With three-time state finalist Summer Brown leading the way, Western has a group of 30-plus athletes. Nearly all have experience on the high school or middle school squads.
“It’s one of the most solid teams I’ve had,” Bennett said. “It ranks up there with some of the really tough teams.”
Bennett explained his excitement.
“We finished strong last season and I have a strong group of girls who have done everything a coach could ask for. They worked very hard in the offseason and that was apparent on the first day of practice. They have come into the season with a lot of focus and ready to go,” he said.
Brown leads the Panthers and other key contributors dot the lineup. Senior Kelsey Quinn is strong in the 200 and backstroke. Junior Ally Purvis is an all-arounder who is good in the 500 and IM.