The Catalina Foothills boys swimming team has won 10 consecutive 4A state titles.

The Falcons girls team has captured nine of the last 10 4A state championships, including eight in a row before 2008.

However, Foothills lost eight 2009 state titlists to graduation and will rely on young swimmers to continue the dynasty at this weekend's state meet in Mesa.

Seventeen freshmen swam for the girls team during the regular season and six will make the trip to the state meet. Eight more competed for the boys, with four making state.

"We've been the best for 10 years now, and we're looking to continue our streak of first-place finishes," senior Cole Puchi said.

The Falcons' first day of state competition is Friday in the Division II prelims. Here are three reasons why they can repeat as champs:

1. Confidence: You don't establish a dynasty without some confidence.

Other teams "might underestimate us because of the number of seniors we lost last year, but they don't have any clue how talented our freshmen and underclassmen are and how much the team has progressed," said Puchi, a senior who is the defending state champion in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.

The Falcons are in Division II after realignment, and coach R.J. Lundstrom and some of his swimmers felt the competition could be deeper. Swimmers had to qualify for the state championships during the season, rather than at a region meet. But they didn't seem intimidated.

"We don't worry about it," Lundstrom said. "Our attitude is we'll swim anybody anywhere anytime, and we're not afraid of anything. We don't worry about who's in the league, who's out. We've got to step up and do it. These guys always step up."

2. Talent: Despite losing a large senior class from last season, the Falcons aren't short on talent. Top freshmen include Joen Brynnel, Matt Kautz, Bonnie Diamond, Krista Duffield, Alexis Souza and Reed Wallace. All six qualified for the state meet.

"We lost some big seniors, especially on the guys' side, but we got this guy to anchor us off," Lundstrom said, referring to Puchi, who committed to Boston University. "And we have guys who are ready to take their place."

Other top state swimmers include Jason Alentado, Griff CarterDoyle, Ambjorn Brynnel, Harrison Luko and Claire Houlton. The Falcons have also gotten a boost from Anlise Chiamentei, a foreign exchange student from Brazil.

3. Leadership: The 13 seniors have provided guidance for the underclassmen.

Senior Ashley Knittle said the Falcons emphasize cheering on each other behind each lane for each race.

"The freshman girls are really taking charge and they're really stepping up, and everyone really gets along as a team," said Knittle, who will compete in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the state meet.

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All games at 7 tonight

5A Division I

• No. 8 Salpointe Catholic at No. 1 Phoenix Xavier

5A Division II

• No. 8 Glendale Ironwood at No. 1 Ironwood Ridge

4A Division I

• No. 7 Scottsdale Saguaro at No. 2 Sabino

• No. 5 Sahuaro at No. 4 Phoenix Sunnyslope

4A Division II

• No. 7 Peoria Liberty at No. 2 Amphitheater


At Kino Aquatics Center in Mesa

Today's preliminaries

• Division I

Boys diving, 11 a.m.

Swimming, 1 p.m.

Girls diving 2:30 p.m.

Friday's preliminaries

• Division II

Boys diving, 11 a.m.

Swimming, 1 p.m.

Girls diving 2:30 p.m.

Saturday's finals

• Division I and II diving

Boys, 11:45 a.m.

Girls, 2:30p.m.

• Swimming


STATE cross country

At Cave Creek Golf Course


• Division IV boys, 9 a.m.

• Division IV girls, 9:30 a.m.

• Division III boys, 10 a.m.

• Division III girls, 10:30 a.m.

• Division II boys, 11 a.m.

• Division II girls, 11:30 a.m.

• Division I boys, noon

• Division I girls, 12:30 p.m.