Centennial High School approved the addition of boys’ swimming and diving as a varsity sport for the 2013-14 school year.

Centennial, in Circle Pines, opened in 1956 and never offered boys’ swimming. The school houses a pool and offers girls’ varsity swimming. Centennial was the only Northwest Suburban Conference school without a boys’ swimming and diving team.

Activities director Brian Hegseth said the program, which begins practice in November, was approved by the school board and will be funded as a budget item. As a result, Hegseth said, the process to hire a coach is on hold. Teachers’ contracts are being negotiated and hiring cannot begin until those discussions are final.

A boys’ club team started last season in hopes of transitioning to varsity for the 2013-14 school year. The 28 boys who joined the club team is larger than the number on some varsity programs in the Northwest Suburban Conference, said Chip Fechter, the Cougars’ girls’ varsity swimming coach who oversaw the boys’ club.

Hegseth said 28 swimmers is the “hopeful baseline” for the program this season.

“It’s such a natural add,” Hegseth said. “It fits in smoothly and there is a lot of excitement.”

Poll positions

Several north metro schools were rated among the best in their respective sports’ preseason rankings. Blaine’s volleyball team placed No. 2 and earned two first-place votes. The Bengals finished third at the Class 3A state tournament last season.

In boys’ cross-country, Centennial is ranked No. 7 and Mounds View tied for 10th. Elk River was listed among other teams receiving votes. Andover’s Chris Meados was 10th in the individual rankings.

New A.D. at Columbia Hghts.

Matthew Miller was named Columbia Heights K-12 activities director, overseeing athletics and activities programs for the district’s five elementary and secondary schools.

His primary responsibilities include managing the athletic and fine arts facilities, overseeing district coaches and schedules, ensuring compliance with Minnesota State High School League rules and being an active collaborator and communicator with students, parents, staff and the greater community. He succeeds Mark Corless, who held the position since 2006.

Miller, a Columbia Heights alumnus, was recognized in 2008 by former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell with the National Above and Beyond Citizen Honor for aiding as many as 12 victims in the 35W bridge collapse.

“I love our students and I am thrilled to serve them through the activities and athletics program,” Miller said in a news release.