East Ridge swimming & diving: Cuevas becomes Raptors’ boys coach
It’s not every day a new coach is handed one of the best high school teams in the state.
However, that’s the situation for Billy Cuevas.
Cuevas, the head coach of the East Ridge girls swimming and diving team, was pegged as the new head coach of the East Ridge boys swimming and diving team, too.
“Billy is a committed, personal coach who holds high expectations for himself and his athletes,” said East Ridge activities director Jon Hinzman. “He will work to ensure the swim team is prepared to be at their best in all aspects of the event.”
Cuevas, an assistant for the Raptors boys for three of the past four years, takes the reins for Steve Webb, who left East Ridge after two seasons to become the head coach for the Augsburg College women’s swimming and diving program.
“I know the team very well and, obviously, know East Ridge High School well — all the traditions and everything we stand for,” said Cuevas, 27. “I always thought it’d be very cool if I were able to coach this team as a head coach. What a great opportunity. You don’t always just get handed a talented team like these boys. It’s going to be fun.”
The East Ridge boys are 17-1 in dual meets the past two seasons, including a current 16-meet win streak. The Raptors went unbeaten last season and won the Suburban East Conference championship, then went on to place sixth at the 2013 Minnesota state meet. East Ridge finished eighth in the state tournament in 2012. East Ridge swimmers earned six all-state honors and five junior national cut times last year, while breaking nearly every school record.
“We are a very, very talented group,” Cuevas said. “We have everyone returning, so we want to repeat as champions and get top three in the state. We’re very talented up and down the lineup. It’s not just about one swimmer. If someone doesn’t swim we’re still going to be very tough to beat. Everyone is one year older and hopefully one year faster. We’re going to have more depth this year too.”
Cuevas 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. He has been part of the East Ridge swimming and diving programs since the school’s inaugural year in 2009.
He became the head coach of the girls team in 2011, taking over for Luke Weyandt, who coached the Raptors boys and girls teams for the programs’ first two years.
“It’s definitely completely different coaching girls and boys,” Cuevas said. “It’s definitely going to have some challenges, but I’m excited for the challenge.”