John Patnott is optimistic about his Hope College men’s swimming & diving team heading into the 2015-16 season.
The Flying Dutchmen share the same trait as their female teammates at Hope, Patnott said.
“Both teams are two of the most enthusiastic teams we’ve had in a few years,” Patnott said. “Everyone is positive, working really hard. These kids are really into it.”
Patnott begins his 36th season as head coach on Saturday, Oct. 24, when the Flying Dutchmen compete at the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Relays at Calvin College.
Hope features a roster of 28 swimmers and divers. There are eight seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen.
Senior Duncan MacLean of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS), and junior Christian Otteman of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East HS), are co-captains.
The Flying Dutchmen return four of their five All-MIAA honorees from the 2014-15 season.
Junior diver Jean Luc Miralda of Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Honduras American), is a returning NCAA Division III regional qualifier and a two-time All-MIAA recipient.
Miralda finished runner-up at the MIAA Championships in 1- and 3-meter diving. He recorded a school-record score of 544.85 points during the 3-meter board finals. He also took second on 1-meter after scoring 475.60 points during the finals and a school-record 485.05 during preliminaries.
Junior diver Kevin Franz of Mundelein, Illinois (Mundelein HS), is back after competing at the NCAA regional and claiming All-MIAA honors for the first time. He took third in 1- and 3-meter diving at the MIAA Championships.
Sophomore Kyle Weck of Marshall, Michigan (Marshall HS) and freshman Brian Simonich of Highland, Michigan (Milford HS), will contribute in diving as well.
Hope’s other two returning All-MIAA recipient were first-time honorees last season: MacLean and sophomore Charlie Emmert of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Flint Powers Catholic HS).
MacLean finished second at the MIAA Championships in the 1,650 freestyle, third in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 freestyle.
Emmert was runner-up in the 200 butterfly at the MIAA championships. He also took fifth in the 500 freestyle and seventh in the 100 butterfly.
“We have a decent distance group. That might be our strongest area,” Patnott said. “Our butterfly will be very respectable.”
Other seniors returning for the Flying Dutchmen include freestyler and butterfly Trevor Billinghurst of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS), freestyler Samuel Gallmeyer of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS), freestyler and backstroker Taylor Hatfield of Coloma, Michigan (St. Joseph HS), butterflier Nathan Rommel of Overland Park, Kansas (Blue Valley NW HS), butterflier Micah Sall of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East HS), freestyler Michael Trier of Nunica, Michigan (Muskegon Catholic Central HS), and freestyle Troy VanPortfliet of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian HS).
Otteman swims the backstroke and individual medley. He is joined in his junior class by junior freestyler and butterflier Ryan Johnson of Milford, Michigan (International Academy), freestyler and backstroker Jonathon Maat of Holland, Michigan (Holland HS), butterflier and backstroker Danny Sullivan of Columbus, Ohio (Upper Arlington HS), and breaststroker Trevor Wagoner of Hixson, Tennessee (McCalle HS).
Other sophomores expected to contribute are butterflier Trevor Boehm of Kenosha, Wisconsin (Tremper HS), freestyler Joseph Watson of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Catholic Central HS), and backstroke Mike Wurster of Indianapolis, Indiana (Brebeuf Jesuit Prep).
Simonich is joined in his freshman class by freestyler Brian Brown of Lemont, Illinois (Brother Rice HS), freestyler Zachary Buys of Asheville, N.C. (Carolina Day School), freestyler Seth DeWitt of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS), backstroker Trevor Gras of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East HS), freestyler John Hackley of Wilmette, Illinois (New Trier HS), freestyler Josh Meade of Kentwood, Michigan (East Kentwood HS), and freestyler Sam Puckett of Beloit, Wisconsin (Beloit Memorial).
The Flying Dutchmen are hosting three events this season.
Two will be held at Kresge Natatorium: November 14 vs. Olivet at 1 p.m. and January 9 vs. Calvin at 1 p.m.
Hope will hold the January 16 Michigan-Illinois Quad with Kalamazoo, Lake Forest, Illinois, and Wheaton, Illinois at Holland Community Aquatic Center at 1 p.m.
The MIAA Championships are February 17-20 at Calvin College.
The NCAA Division III Championships are March 16-19 in Greensboro, N.C.