Boys Swimming: Waubonsie sees strength in relays
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media February 9, 2013 6:46PM
Waubonsie Valley's Michael McWhirter, defending state champion in the 50 freestyle, swims on both the team's freestyle relays. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
After finishing second to St. Charles North at last weekend’s Upstate Eight Conference meet, Waubonsie Valley is looking forward to next week’s sectionals.
“Our guys are ready to reap the benefits of all the work they’ve done,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Nick Arens. “We’re primed and excited about sectionals, and we have a very strong state focus.”
At the UEC meet, the Warriors won both free relays and they’re looking to score at state in those events.
“Those two relays will be contenders to score,” said Arens. “And I’d like to see them both finish in the top six.”
The Warriors’ 400 freestyle relay team finished 14th in state and just missed earning state points, but this year, three members of the 2012 team return a year older, a year stronger and a year better. Stephen Ernst, Mike McWhirter (who was the state champion in the 50 freestyle) and Adam Stacklin are the returnees and they’ll be joined by Nathan Morris.
“Nathan was an alternate on the state team, but this time he will be a regular on what we consider a very good relay team,” said Arens
McWhirter, Stacklin and Bailey York all return to the 200 free relay team that finished eighth at state. Joining them this time will be Kelvin Newton.
While the free relays have been carrying the heavy load for the Warriors, Arens is optimistic that the 200 medley relay team of York, Adam Trotter, Michael Schwers and Newton will make a good showing at sectionals.
Waubonsie’s impressive depth is bolstered by the addition of a pair of outstanding freshmen flyers in Schwers and Tagg Lohman. Lohman swam a .54 in the butterfly at conference last week, setting a conference junior varsity record.
“Our sectional guys saw a lot of pieces fall into place last week among the people who tapered for conference,” said Arens. “So they’re looking forward to starting their taper and being very competitive at sectionals.”
Widuch leads Wildcats
Neuqua Valley, which finished fourth at the Upstate Eight meet, was led by sophomore Joe Widuch, who won the 100 backstroke conference title.
“Joe has a solid future and he should make the state cut in the backstroke,” said Neuqua Valley coach Chad Allen. “But he could also compete in the sprint freestyles and there’s a chance he’ll be on a relay or two as well.”
Senior Alan Cartwright also had a strong meet, finishing third in the 50 freestyle. He’s another candidate for the sectional relay teams.
“Alan can help us down the stretch,” said Allen. “He could be on all three relays.”
Allen is impressed by Cartwright, who has moved to the forefront of the team without swimming year-round. Cartwright is a drummer who is a member of the Neuqua Valley Marching Band.
“Alan takes his swimming career at Neuqua very seriously especially this year,” said Allen. “He is a quiet leader in the pool, on dry land and in the weight room.”
Central’s diving success
Naperville Central divers Peter Rusenas and Joe Gucwa finished one-two in conference at last weekend’s DuPage Valley Conference meet, and both are looking forward to pursuing state qualification at sectionals next Friday.
“Joe has been a consistent winner all season and Peter has come on strong as the season progressed,” said Naperville Central swimming coach Mike Adams. “They were both great last weekend. They’ve been maturing as divers and both have that ability to stay in the moment, which is an important mental edge for good divers. It’s great for us to have a one-two combination like that. They’re both possibilities for a spot at state.”
Christian May, a Naperville Central sophomore who finished second at the DVC meet in the 100 freestyle last weekend, has gone from a swimmer with a lot of ability to a true racer in recent weeks.
“Christian did a fine job of getting up there and going fast when he was still tired from the wear and tear of training,” said Central coach Adams. “Racing is a learned skill. It’s really an achievement to go fast when you’re not really ready to go fast. Sometimes it takes a couple of months of high school swimming to get in to that racing mode. Throughout the season, you’re facing different competition and different situations.”
Adams said he could see May improving at the end of his freshman year.
“Sometimes you have to work up and get your spot,” Adams said. “And he’s been fighting for his spot.”
The coach said he was happy with his team’s performance at all levels at the DVC meet where the Redhawks finished a close second to Naperville North.
“I thought our intensity was good,” Adams said. “Everybody on our varsity had one or two good swims. Sometimes, the final score isn’t indicative of how good you are. And our freshmen and JV did a good job.”