HIGHLAND | Highland senior Matt Dyer isn't one to look at rankings and let it go to his head.
However, it's hard to just forget about the preseason No. 16 ranking the Trojans received on www.indianaswimming.org -- the second best local ranking behind No. 8 Chesterton.
"It's given us all the feeling that we're a powerful team and we can do a lot this year," Dyer said. "Now the underclassmen understand what it's like to be a good, strong team. We're looking to do more this year."
Although Dyer isn't the fastest freestyle sprinter on the team, he's still brought a great deal into turning Highland's program around in the past three seasons. He's still proven he can be quick, however, pulling off a 48.9 second split in the 400-yard freestyle relay to help the Trojans finish second (3:14.86) in last season's Crown Point Sectional.
"Probably one of the greatest things about Matt is he knows his role," Highland coach Ryan Harrington said. "Matt is a role player and he's accepted that role. He's done everything he could to make himself better."
Dyer has improved his time leaps and bounds since last season, capped by his sectional performance.
"He had never even gone under 51 (seconds) before," Harrington said. "He knew what he was working on and trained that way. The team's recognized what he's done and made him a captain."
Doing more this year includes a better performance at state this season, where Dyer teamed with Adam Johnston, Steve Castillo and Sam Zuke in the 200-yard freestyle relay, which finished 11th in 1:27.44 for the Trojans' only 12 points. That relay was the only one to reach the finals, and Dyer said he hopes for a top eight finish this season. The Trojans will have to replace the graduated Zuke, however.
That same relay also made it to state when Dyer was a sophomore, but it didn't make it past the preliminary round.
However, last season gave them the confidence that they can perform at that high of a level, which has translated into a different mentality at practices. Bringing alternates last season -- swimmers that may replace Zuke this season -- was also important.
"It was good for them to just warm up (at state) and get the feel how everything is run when we were down there."
Despite the state ranking, Harrington is stressing to his kids not to pay much attention to it.
"It's just a ranking," he said. "It doesn't mean anything. We like that underdog role -- we always have."