LONGMONT — Who need computers or calculators when you have Sam Willett?
The Silver Creek senior has crunched the numbers and believes his team has the ability to do something special when the Class 4A state meet returns to the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in late May.
"My biggest goal this season is a team goal and I honestly feel like we can finish top three at state," Willett said. "This team is stronger and deeper than any other years I've been on the team and with our fourth place finish last year, I feel like there is no place to go but up."
While both defending state champion Cheyenne Mountain and runners-up Air Academy were well ahead of the field, Willett and the Raptors were a not-to-distant fourth behind third place Thompson Valley.
With Willett leading the way, the Raptors certainly have a chance. The senior, who will continue his swimming career next fall at California's Division III Claremont McKenna College, is coming off of a junior season that saw him tie for second in the 100-yard breaststroke and seventh in the 100 butterfly.
Willett went into the state championships last year knowing that a state title would be a long shot, especially in the breaststroke, where D'Evelyn's Daniel Graber — now swimming for ACC champions North Carolina State — was the overwhelming favorite. he has his mind in the right place this year too and is taking nothing for granted.
"(Graber) was a beast in the water and I know I will be going against a lot more kids just like that this year," he said. "You've got to be able to do the work in the water and be willing to do it out of the water as well."
Willett has encouraged his teammates to think outside of the box this year and not just focus on the work in the water. An emphasis on nutrition and the overall strength of the body, which includes trips to the weight room have been encouraged.
That drew some strange looks from some of the other Raptors athletes when the swim team showed up at the weight room door for a recent workout.
"It's something you see with top tier swimmers, that you just don't expect," he said. "We did our first team lift last Saturday and both the baseball and girls soccer team were coming out and asked what we were doing there. I told them we were lifting and they though I was kidding at first.
"Nobody expect it, but those dryland activities make a big difference."