The two Manitowoc County boys swimming programs that will be sending members to compete at the WIAA State Swimming and Diving Championships in Madison this weekend are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
For Manitowoc Lincoln, five of the six swimmers that will compete at Saturday’s Division 1 meet have previous state experience. With the Valders-Brillion-Chilton co-op team, one of its large contingent of 10 competing in today’s Division 2 meet has been there before.
The Ships enter their competition hoping to improve times and break school records. The Valders co-op, on the other hand, has its eyes set on being today’s spoiler.
“The key is to improve. Our goal is to better out times and move up in the seedings,” Lincoln coach Mike Zupek said. “Most of the guys have (state) experience, so that will help them in preparation and performance at this year’s meet.”
Individually for Lincoln, sophomore Riley Neuser will compete in the 200 yard freestyle and senior Aaron Hochkammer will compete in the 100 backstroke.
The Ships will also send its 200 medley relay team — Hochkammer, senior Kyle Heinzen, sophomore Dylan Neuser and sophomore John Cress — and its 400 freestyle relay — R. Neuser, sophomore Damian Klemish, D. Neuser and Hochkammer.
Klemish is the only swimmer not to have prior State experience, so Zupek said he’s happy the underclassmen are getting exposed to State early on in their careers.
“(Being at State) will help (the underclassmen) in the long run,” Zupek said.
After competing in Division 1 last year, the Valders co-op is hoping to make a bigger splash in the Division 2 competition today. The team’s coach, Aaron Stachovak, said he expects senior James Wise — the team’s only state-exerienced member — to challenge for first place in diving after finishing fourth last year and his other members to compete for top-eight finishes, if not higher.
Stachovak points to senior Michael Evans’ State experience in cross country and track as being an added asset as he competes in the 50 freestyle while junior Riley Friedrichs will be able to focus on one event — the 100 freestyle — after competing in other events throughout the season.
Senior Nate Pleshek will also compete in diving for the co-op, and it also sends its 200 medley relay team (freshman Jason Cleven, senior Jared Kasten, Friedrichs and senior Keaton Harel), 200 freestyle relay (Evans, junior Zachary Siikarla, junior Jared Tayler and Friedrichs) and 400 freestyle relay (Evans, Siikarla, sophomore Jordan Appel and Friedrichs).
“This is the level of competition that (Evans) is accustomed to. I definitely see him besting last week’s (sectional) time,” Stachovak said. “We are looking to be the spoiler. There are quite a few teams in the Top 4 fighting for first place, so we are going to be that team that sneaks in and takes some points away from those top teams. We will be one of those upset teams that changes the overall look of the team scores at the end.”