CASA GRANDE — With expectations high, the Casa Grande Union swim team is ready to reach new heights this season.

A strong boys team, led by senior Hunter Scholes and junior Clayton Wright, has high hopes for it’s group of swimmers, hoping to qualify for a state championship run this year.

Coach Kim Batina spoke about her expectations going into the new year, saying that a state championship appearance is always the goal for her squad.

“State is always the hope, but we also just want them to keep improving their times so that they are happy with themselves,” Batina said. “One of my girl swimmers explained that she told her teacher that I expect them to just do better than they did last time, and that is always the case with me.”

One of the big things that Batina mentioned was the team aspect of the sport. While the team works together to help push each other, at the end of the day there are a lot of individual aspects of the sport that athletes go through.

“Each kid sets their own goals, and if they reach their own goals, we are happy with that outcome,” she said. “Some goals might be to just improve their time every week, and some goals are that they want to go to state. But at the same time, there is the camaraderie, they all push each other to do better.”

While Batina said that the girls team has a lot of new members, the boys team has the experience and the speed to have a great year.

Wright has been elevated to a premier spot on the roster, with his versatility and ability to compete in all four strokes being a huge asset for the Cougars.

“I can rely on Clayton so much, I rely on him to teach the younger kids and I can rely on him because he is a great demonstrator,” Batina said. “Some kids really only concentrate on one stroke, but with him, he is trying to be great in all of them, not many kids can do that.”

Casa Grande Union also has a great sprinter at the helm in Scholes. The boys team captain mainly competes in the freestyle events, and is always trying to be the fastest swimmer in the pool.

“Hunter really takes on the captain role, when we are at events, he makes sure that every boy is there and where they need to be,” Batina said. “He is a very strong swimmer, he is definitely one of the students that we are really looking forward to possibly making state.”

The Cougars started their season on the right foot on Thursday, as the boys team came in first place in their meet against Gilbert Christian and Morenci. The team will look to ride the momentum going into the season.

CG Union’s next meet scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 9 against Combs and Casteel at Perry High School in Gilbert.

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David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.