At Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 boys swimming sectional meet at Plymouth, Panthers coach Clare Sedlacek couldn’t believe her eyes.
Plymouth’s 400 freestyle relay had just broken the school record by nearly four seconds, and senior Cormick Hnilicka had caught and passed Grafton’s anchor swimmer in the last 10 meters to win in 3:20.92.
Hnilicka’s split of 48.15 was the fastest time Sedlacek had ever seen. For comparison, that time would have won the 100 free event at sectionals and seeded Hnilicka No. 1 at State.
“I’ve never had a guy go that fast,” Sedlacek said. “I’ve had two guys go 49 (seconds) in the time that I’ve coached. When he swam that 48, I had to stop myself. I had to rub my eyes, we broke the record by four seconds.”
That race capped an outstanding day for Hnilicka and the rest of the Panthers, who will look to build on that success Friday at the WIAA Division 2 State Meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison. The Division 1 meet is set for Saturday.
“I want to end on a high note,” Hnilicka said. “I aim to medal in all four of my events (at State) and get the school record in the 100 butterfly. Our relay is seeded second, I want to try to carry them to a win.”
Plymouth is poised for a big meet Friday, with five top-10 seeds. The 400 free relay is No. 2 while senior Miguel Gonzalez is third in the 200 free (1:48.32).
Hnilicka enters seeded sixth in the 50 free (22.48) and 10th in the 100 fly (55.84).
Also competing indivdually for Plymouth will be Gonzalez in the 100 free, where he’s seeded fifth in 49.44, and sophomore divers Evan Klemme (13th, 270.75) and Michael Bolland (16th, 240.50).
The Panthers’ 200 free relay of Gonzalez, Matthew Matz, Mitch Tournour and Hnilicka is sixth in 1:31.21. And of course, there’s the 400 free relay seeded second.
“Obviously we want to follow (our performance at sectionals) up,” Sedlacek said. “The fact that they swam that well on Saturda is totally amazing, gratifying, satisfying and rewarding.”
Breaking the school record was also a big goal for Hnilicka and his best friend, Tournour.
“(They) have had their eyes on both Plymouth free relay records,” Sedlacek said. “They were convinced they, with their relay-mates Miguel and Matt, could get the (400 free relay) record at home in sectionals.”
Now the goal is to follow that record-breaking performance with one just as strong at State.
In Division 1, Sheboygan South senior McKean Ramos will once again swim a full meet, competing in the 200 free, 100 fly and both the 200 free and 400 free relays.
Ramos is seeded 15th in the 200 free (1:47.58) and 16th in the 100 fly (54.24).
The Redwings’ 200 free relay of Ramos, Aaron Stenz, Brian White and Luke Hetue is 10th with a time of 1:29.89 and the 400 free relay is 16th in 3:19.64.
Sheboygan North senior Elliott Tauscheck earned the No. 11 seed in the 100 breast with a time of 1:01.07 at sectionals, and is also 16th in the 50 free (22.18).
North junior Marcel Harris is seeded 13th in diving with a score of 369.40.