The Helena High and Capital High swim teams will cap off their seasons Friday and Saturday at the State Swim Meet in Butte.
Helena High’s boys and girls are the defending state champions, although Missoula Hellgate is probably the pre-meet favorite in both divisions.
The Bengal boys have the potential to retain their title, according to coach Carrie Brown.
“Our (HHS) boys have a good chance, but we need them to win the relays,” said Brown, who directs both the Bengal and Bruin squads.
Helena’s vaunted boys freestyle relay units are actually seeded No. 2 behind the Knights in the 200 and 400 free relays, despite sustaining only one loss during the season.
Better known as the “Fab Five” — Peter Kotson, Pat Hooks, Stephen Murphy, Nick Angeli and Colton Bauer — the Bengal free relayers produced a dazzling 15-1 record, going an undefeated 8-0 in the 200 races, and 7-1 in the 400s.
The boys 200 medley relay quartet of Cameron Dole, Nate Camaret, Hooks and Bauer, is ranked second behind Hellgate, as well.
Individually, Kotson is the state’s top seed in both the 50 and 100 frees. He is the defending champion in the 100, and placed runner-up in the 50 last year by one-tenth of a second.
Earlier this season, he broke two state records formerly held by Missoula David Cromwell, the 500 free (from 2000) and 200 free (2002).
Kotson, who has committed to the University of Utah, currently owns nine top-four career state medals — five individual and four relays. A three-time state titlist, he captured a pair of crowns as a sophomore, winning the 100 and 200 frees.
The Bengal stalwart has also been part of two state team championships (2011, 2013) and a runner-up (2012).
HHS boasts three swimmers rated in the top four in the 500 free, including defending champ Hooks (second), Murphy (third) and Angeli (fourth).
Murphy and Angeli are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, in the 200 freestyle, as well.
On the girls’ side, Helena’s Erika Ackerlund is rated second in the 200 freestyle, while Capital freshman Avree Klungland is the third seed in the 100 free.
Helena High sophomore Kate Murphy garnered two all-state finishes last year.
In the relays, the Lady Bengals 200 free foursome (Ackerlund, Julianne Jones, Rachel Bauer and Murphy) is listed No. 1, with the 400 free at second, and the medley relay ranked No. 3.