East Ridge girls swimming & diving: Raptors replace Weyandt with pair
Sometimes two is better than one.
When it comes to its swimming program, East Ridge High School hopes that to be true.
East Ridge has hired Steve Webb as the new head boys swimming and diving coach and Billy Cuevas as the new head girls swimming and diving coach, replacing Luke Weyandt, who coached both teams the past two years.
According to East Ridge High School Activities Director Trent Hanson, Weyandt resigned from both positions in order to attend graduate school at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. Weyandt was the boys swimming Section 4AA Coach of the Year Coach of the Year this past winter.
Webb, Weyandt's replacement on the Raptors boys team, currently serves as an assistant coach for Woodbury's South East Metro Sharks club swim team and is the head girls swim coach at Mounds View High School. According to Hanson, he has coached numerous academic all-Americans, school record holders, and state finalists.
"I have a pretty strong familiarity with a lot of the kids in the area since I coach for the SEMS team," Webb said. "There's a lot of talent on the team that will be returning this year."
Last season a handful of the Raptors' top swimmers decided not to swim for the high school team and instead swam club.
Webb, 26, said a few very strong swimmers, like 2009 All-State swimmer Austin Davidson, would be back on the high school team this season.
"I've worked with half the team already," Webb said. "It's nice. I like coaching high school much better than club. I like dual meets where it's win or lose. It's a lot of fun."
Webb said he'd have to "scale back" his time with SEMS. He added that the boys can still swim for SEMS, just not during the high school season, and that the SEMS program is happy about the boys competing for their high school team.
"He (SEMS head coach Eric Seversen) just wants them to come back in shape and improve after the high school season is over, so he wants someone good in there," Webb said. "He wanted a symbiotic relationship between SEMS and the East Ridge High School team. He wants them to get better and work on technique while in high school and would rather have a coach he knows than not know."
As a collegiate swimmer, Webb, a Woodbury resident, broke two school records (1000 free, 1650 free) at St. Louis University in his freshman year. After one season, he transferred to Florida State where he swam for the Seminoles and graduated with degrees in Finance, Applied Economics and Political Science.
He said he looks forward to coaching a very talented group of student-athletes at East Ridge.
"Luke definitely left some good pieces here," Webb said. "I think we have a good shot at winning the conference this year. Taking top 10 at state would be a good goal for us and we want to take a lot of kids to state this year."
For its girls team, East Ridge hired Cuevas as its new head coach. Cuevas, 24, graduated as a record holder in swimming from Woodbury High School in 2005 -- in the 500 freestyle -- and was an All-American during his career Gustavus Adolphus college. Most recently, he has served as a varsity assistant coach in both the boys and girls swimming programs at East Ridge. He has been part of the East Ridge swimming and diving programs since the school's inaugural year in 2009.
"I've been part of this community basically my whole life," Cuevas said. "Being part of this school in my community is pretty exciting. I'm just glad I was able to be promoted."
Cuevas, who has a degree in physics from Gustavus, said he has wanted to be a head coach since high school.
"I always wanted to help out and be an assistant and someday become a head coach," he said. "I really didn't think I'd be a head coach as soon as I did, but it's something I've thought about and always wanted to do."
Cuevas said he was confident he could handle the role as head coach.
"I know I have a lot to learn, but I also have maintained a good relationship with all my past coaches and have a lot of people I can turn to if needed," he said. "I'm just going to keep asking questions to people who have more experience than I do and just be prepared as possible to move the program forward."
Last season, East Ridge took 19th in the high school league state tournament with 35 points and had its first-ever state champion in sophomore diver Jenna Karrow. Additionally, the Raptors made the Class AA true team state meet, finishing in eighth place.
Cuevas said he is thrilled to further the development of the program.
"There is a lot of depth and talent on the team right now," Cuevas said. "I'm excited to see how we move forward."
He said he expects a smooth transition.
"Knowing all the girls already and them knowing me will make the transition pretty easy," he said. "Hopefully I can teach these kids the hard work and discipline it takes to become a great athlete and to become successful in life."