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  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek coach Debbie Stewart leads her team in a workout at the Ed & Ruth Lehman YMCA Monday morning.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek cracked the top 10 last season at state with a superb group of freshman that has them eyeing visions of moving up on the Class 4A leaderboard. This year's standouts at Silver Creek include, clockwise from back left, Nicki Schlagel, Megan McGill, Brandie Vu, and Sarah Finley, photographed at the Ed & Ruth Lehman YMCA Monday morning.

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LONGMONT — Silver Creek coach Debbie Stewart entered last season with a sort of hopeful optimism.

Her roster was loaded with unproven freshmen and the fear of the unknown was allowed to creep in.

While many outsiders assumed that it would take some time to gel, it came together rather quickly for the Raptors and that class is now a year older, wiser and more experienced. Combine that with a solid senior group and Stewart’s team has all the looks of a top-five contender.

“It’s definitely my strongest class and they basically rewrote the (school) record board last year and I think all but two records came down last year,” said Stewart, whose team finished eighth in the Class 4A state meet in February.

“Now we are just trying to hold it and trying to enjoy the ride. This is an Olympic year, so they have trained that much harder and their personal goals for this season are pretty high.”

Leading the way for what is now a solid group of sophomores, are Brandi Vu, Nicole Schlegel and Meghan Magill.

Vu qualified for the finals in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke last season. After a missed turn in the finals of the IM, she was disqualified, but rebounded to finish third in the breaststroke.

“As a team, we don’t want to boast too much, we just want to try and have a fun year,” Stewart said. “We’ll try and hold our own and see what it brings us at the end.”

The Raptors core of upperclassmen is led by senior Jenna Latsko, who has visions of qualifying for junior nationals and piecing together a even greater resume for her college of choice.

“There are a lot more opportunities for me to swim DIII and especially out her,” said Latsko, who has visited schools in Rhode Island, Ohio and will have one more in Michigan.

Latsko along with senior Olivia Bruce and junior Sara Findley have molded well with the younger girls and have clearly focused their attention to the success of the team as a whole.

“I’m super excited about the season this year because of what we did last year and I think we can break even more records this year,” Latsko said. “We will have some really good relays and I think it would be fun to crack the top five.”

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt