Bay swimmers make statement in sectional, advance 10 entries to state
Youthful Blue Dukes head to Madison
Their coach Jim Davis has battled back from major back surgery in December and the team, through its efforts in hosting the recently held North Shore Conference meet, showed it could host a meet again with its newly reconfigured pool and its shiny new bulkhead.
So all that remained to do for the Blue Dukes boys swim squad was finish the season out well, and they are doing that, as Bay took a strong second in the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at Cudahy on Saturday, advancing eight individuals and two relay teams to Friday's state meet at the UW-Madison Natatorium.
And of course, it was the divers and the 200 medley relay team that paved the way. The Blue Dukes are led at state by defending state D2 diving champion and sophomore Joe Kaszubowski, who turned in an impressive 11-dive score of 503.05 points in leading the state field.
Kaszubowski's effort broke, by the narrowest of margins, three-time Blue Dukes state champion Alex Hawley's school record of 502.8. He will be joined in Madison on the diving platform by Luke Henricks, who was fifth in the sectional with a 267.6 score.
And the medley got the formal swimming portion of the meet off to a spectacular start, as the crew of sophomore Noah Oldson, senior Ethan Bott, junior Curt Walther and senior Ethan Nikolau, set a season best of one minute, 43.94 seconds in winning its event.
Those efforts helped get the Blue Dukes off to a fast start, but eventually Shorewood caught up to Bay in the 11-team field with a 360-point total as the Blue Dukes came in with 347.
"We always have a tradition with that relay," said Davis, who had disc surgery on his back in late December but missed relatively little time and is currently getting a clean bill of health from his doctor., "and for them to come out like that was great. The kids really came to perform today. We were never in the top 10 in the area this year, so we needed to come out and make a statement, which I thought the kids did.
"… And for Joe to do what he did (in breaking the school record), was so impressive, too. I think Alex (Hawley) would be proud of that."
Meet starts Friday
The state D2 meet has its diving competition at 2 p.m. Friday and swimming commences at 6:30 p.m. Bay was 12th at state last season.
Joining the aforementioned qualifiers will be Bott in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, Nikolau in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and Oldson in the 500 free and 100 backstroke.
In addition, the 400 free relay team earned a good lane by winning its sectional race in 3:23.8 as Oldson, Joey McMahon, Nikolau and Bott worked together for a two-plus second season-best.
Davis was very pleased for Nikolau, who had some heartbreaking near-misses in sectional last year.
"What a great thing for him," Davis said. Nikolau was second both the 50 (23.16) and 100 (50.95) freestyles in earning his spots.
Overall, Davis used the word "great" many times in describing his team's efforts.
Bott (55.43 seconds) and Oldson (57.28) went one-two in the 100 backstroke to help put exclamation points on their great days. Earlier, Oldson, was third in the 500 free with a spectacular 12-second drop of 4:53.94 while Bott came through with a runner-up showing of his own in the IM (2:04.89).
Davis was very pleased with the 400 free relay's efforts as he knew that Shorewood was not going to make a mistake and get their team DQed, so the Blue Dukes had virtually no chance at winning the meet title, but he still called upon the relay to lay it on the line.
"I told them we can walk away with a championship relay team and still finish second in the meet so that's what we'll do," Davis said. "We did our '1-2-3 Duke Pride' and 'Boom!' they went out and did it."
Shorewood clinched the team title by taking third in the relay.
Other good efforts for the Blue Dukes included the following: 200 free: Sam Raber, sixth (2:00.93); 200 IM: McMahon, fifth (2:13.97); 50 free: Quinn Mooney, eighth (24.81); 100 butterfly: Walther, sixth (58.87); McMahon, ninth (1:01.32); 100 free: Mooney, ninth (55.02); 500 free: Walther, ninth (5:24.96); Raber, 10th (5:25.81); 200 free relay: McMahon, Joe Corrao, Patrick Konrath, Mooney, sixth (1:40.21); and 100 breast stroke: Konrath, 12th (1:13.93).
DAVIS WAS PLEASED: also with the way the North Shore Conference meet turned out the week before at the Blue Dukes' revamped pool. "It was a good evaluation of the new configuration (swimmers are now going perpendicular to what they used to do in the pool in order to accommodate national swimming start rules)," he said. "Now I think we can start putting in for bigger meets, even (WIAA) sectionals."
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