When the Maize High boys swim team placed fourth in the Class 6A state meet last season, it came as a little bit of a surprise — not in a bad way, but in an exciting way.
Coach Hussein Yassine knew his first team at Maize had talent, he just didn't know whether to expect that kind of result.
"I think we were a little taken back," Yassine said. "We didn't really know how well we could do at state, and with fourth place we were pleased."
If anything, it gave Maize, the AVCTL-Division I champion, more motivation in the offseason. It's something Yassine said he has seen in this year's team, despite the Eagles not being as deep as they were last season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
"This year we don't have as many swimmers," Yassine said. "But they're pretty hungry. Especially all the returners.
"With who we do have coming back, those guys put a lot of work in the offseason."
Leading the way for this year's team is a trio of swimmers who placed at state. Mitchell Wagner and Lucas Popp were a part of the Eagles' third-place 200-yard medley relay team. Individually, Wagner was a top-eight finisher in the 100 butterfly, while Popp did the same in the 50 freestyle. Kaden Diskin was a big part of the Eagles' scoring punch at state as he placed in the both the 200 and 500 freestyles.
The Eagles will be without graduated state placers Taylor Rice and Jared Roberts. The loss of some of the stronger swimmers hasn't been too much of a burden for Maize, Yassine said. He believes this team has plenty of depth.
"I would say with our relays we have eight guys that can make us pretty good," Yassine said. "We're spread out well in our relays. We have pretty good depth."