Swimmers meet in early test at Nicolet
Area teams start new season with a splash at invitational
Nicolet boys swim coach Dwight Davis won't be hosting a conference or a sectional meet this season, so he thought he might as well schedule the Knights' annual spring invitational early this season.
"That way I can just settle in, get it done and coach the rest of the winter," he said.
And the invitational served as a good early test of local teams, as Whitefish Bay took second, Shorewood third, Nicolet seventh and Brown Deer/University School eighth in the 14-school event Saturday.
"We saw things that are three or four times better than they were last year for us," Brown Deer/USM co-coach Bob Van Lieshout said. "We already have some kids pushing on the edge of the envelope (for Division 2 state qualifying)."
The intensity of the competition will only ratchet up this week for the teams. Shorewood and Brown Deer/USM will take part in the Woodland Conference Relays at Cudahy on Wednesday, and Nicolet and Bay will participate in the North Shore Relays hosted by Bay at 4 p.m. Friday.
Local teams finish in top 10
At the Knight Sprint Invitational, Bay scored 318 points for its spot, as Verona/Mount Horeb won with 336.5. Shorewood was third with 284.5, while Nicolet scored 153.5 for its spot and BD/USM had 115.
For the Blue Dukes, the finish is just a stepping stone for their push back to the top of the Division 2 ladder. They finished second to McFarland in February and return almost all of their state-level athletes, including seniors Jason Castillo, Chuckie Prestigiacomo, Chris Fink, Tommy Hiller, Walker Brengel and Rob Colton and junior D.J. Friesch.
Friesch (29.4 seconds) and Castillo (29.45) finished one-two in the 50-yard breaststroke, while Prestigiacomo was first in the 50 backstroke (25.74) and Fink was third (26.52). Prestigiacomo was also second in the 50 free (22.57), as was Castillo in the 100 individual medley (56.98). Hiller was fourth in the 50 fly (26.82) and Colton finished fifth in the 50 free (23.52).
The Blue Dukes also dominated the 400 medley relay race (3:26.74), winning by seven seconds.
Looking for continued success
Shorewood is also coming off a smashing season in which the Greyhounds set four school records and finished fourth at state. Stephen Meyer earned All-American honors for his school-record efforts in the 100 butterfly (50.82) and 100 backstroke (50.98).
The Greyhounds are in a position of power, returning all but one of their state meet qualifiers from a year ago, including Meyer, a senior. Other returnees include seniors Mike Ross, Arthur Staub and Asher Kaufman; juniors Kasmir Bohannon and Isaac Flegel-Mishlove, and sophomore Jay Tomasiewicz.
Senior R.J. Hayes is back after spending a year in Europe on a student-exchange program, while sophomore Peter Morris is new to high school swimming. Two freshmen who should help out are Derek Lock and Philip Clausen.
At the Knight meet, the Greyhounds' 500 crescendo relay was victorious in 3:57.02, while Meyer was second in the 50 backstroke (26.39). Other second-place finishes included Tomasiewicz in the 200 individual medley (2:04.62) and the 400 medley relay team (3:33.61). Meyer was fourth in the 100 individual medley (58.08), and Hayes was fifth in the 100 free (52.54).
Nicolet squad 'a good group'
Nicolet is led by two returning state meet qualifiers, seniors Ben Wynn (500 free and 200 free relay) and Shreya Patnaik (200 free relay). The Knights have good numbers (48), but Davis said they are young and lack experience. There is ability, though, he said.
Others who will help Nicolet this winter include seniors Drew Shuster (freestyle and individual medley) and Nick Lee (distances).
"It's a good group," Davis said. "They're a little squirrelly, but they're good kids. I think we can get something nice going by the end of the year."
The Knights' chances at state qualifying also improved this season as they too dropped down into the state Division 2 meet.
Patnaik led Nicolet with a second in the 50 butterfly (25.91) and an eighth in the 50 free (23.77), while Wynn was fourth in the 100 free (51.92) and fifth in the 200 free (1:54.36). Nicolet's 500 free relay greatly improved on its seed time with a fifth-place effort (4:10.15).
Falcons experienced, in shape
For Brown Deer/USM, last year's season full of injuries and out-of-shape swimmers is long forgotten as the 30-plus strong Falcons will be led by a large junior class (14) paced by the likes of Steve Lillie, Jack Ladd, Matt Daniels and diver Collin Rice, who set a school 11-dive record (262.45 points) in taking eighth at the Knight Invite.
"The kids came in in really good shape this year," Van Lieshout said. "It's a whole different team this year."
Sophomore Stephen Grambow (12th in the 50 backstroke 29.11) and USM freshman Billy Wong (11th in the 50 breaststroke, 31.62 and the 200 individual medley, 2:18.1) also will be big helps, Van Lieshout said.
"We're going to have nice depth this season," he added.
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