FORTVILLE — With three state qualifiers — and seven state swims — returning along with other big meet point producers, Mt. Vernon feels winning third straight Hoosier Heritage Conference and New Palestine Sectional titles are well within reach.

Matthew Garey and Brady Gray, last season’s Hancock County co-Boys Swimming Athletes of the Year, are back for their senior seasons, as is another state-meet vet in Ethan Murphy.

Garey and Gray each swam two individual events at last year’s state meet. Murphy swam one. All three were on the Marauders two state qualifying relay teams.

The Marauders are more than a three-member team, too. Coach Brad Grieshop lauds seniors Camden Cave, Brady Youngs and Xander Allen, as well as Class of ’23 diver Braden Thomas.

“This whole senior class has a chance to go out as the winningest class in recent history,” Grieshop said. “We have a chance to three-peat conference, three-peat sectional, sending even more swims to state and we had seven last year.

“It’s cool to see them talking about it and watching them play through the different scenarios and see who can go here and who could win what and who could place at state.”

Individually, after winning sectional titles, Garey went to state in the 200-yard IM and 500 freestyle. His 22nd place finish in the IM was the best of all Marauders a year ago. Sprinter Gray was 24th in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Murphy qualified in the 100 backstroke.

All three along with graduated swimmers Jack Champion and Caleb Strege qualified in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Grieshop said his state vets are hopeful to return and finish higher. They’re in quest of state meet Saturday swims in either A or B finals.

“It’s really cool to see the seniors push each other and bring the team along with them,” Grieshop said. “They’ve been here from Day 1. This is the class, when I started coaching Mt. Vernon, that was in seventh grade. Having that same group come through together, hopefully everyone sees the results of that, the time, the effort, the dedication.”

The seniors make up one-half of the Marauders lineup, but they have some talented underclassmen, too.

Eli Webster was a third-place finisher in last year’s sectional 200 IM race. Adison Mayes was also an A finalist in the sectional 100 backstroke. Both are sophomores.

Mt. Vernon opens the season Nov. 22, at home, against Richmond. The Marauders will get the opportunity to defend their HHC title Jan. 7 and their sectional crown Feb. 16, 18. Both are at the New Palestine Natatorium. They’ll also be circling the dates of Feb. 24-25 for the IHSAA state finals at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.