NEENAH – The records kept falling in succession, like target ducks in a carnival shooting gallery.
When the water at the Neenah Natatorium finally settled, seven sectional and pool records had been established, and Appleton North/East was hoisting the championship plaque for the fourth consecutive year.
Sectional swimming and diving meets don’t get much crazier than Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state qualifier won by the Lightning with 357 points.
“That was an unreal meet,” said a soaking wet Appleton North/East coach Scott Stepanski following a celebratory plunge into the pool with his Lightning. “The speed was just amazing. I mean, we shattered the sectional record in the first event of the day, the 200 medley relay, and we lost to Neenah. That’s the way the whole meet went.”
Lightning senior standout Manny Hernandez was also blown away by the multitude of records set.
“That meet was just crazy,” said Hernandez, who won the 500 freestyle and took second in the 200 free. “I didn’t expect all those records to be set. Just the atmosphere of the meet was ridiculous. Everyone was just cheering everyone on.”
The first-place finishers automatically qualified for Saturday’s Division 1 state swimming and diving meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium. Additional qualifiers will be added based on times.
The wave of records came at a fast and furious pace. Sectional and pool records were set in the first six events.
“It was really a great day for everyone, not just Appleton North/East,” said Garner Kohrell, the Lightning’s skilled junior. “Everyone swam well. There were a lot of fast guys at this sectional. I still can’t believe we were able to break all those records.”
Kohrell set individual sectional and pool records in the 100 butterfly (50.87 seconds) and 100 backstroke (:51.68).
“I felt great today,” said Kohrell. “I was rested up for this meet and was able to swim well. I had a lot of competition from guys like Kyle Hrubecky, Ryan Revolinski, and my own teammates like Josiah Vandenberg and Mitchell Bricco.”
Kohrell also joined Hernandez, Vandenberg and Connor Deitrich on the Lightning’s first-place 400 freestyle relay (3:15.05). The same four swam on a second-place 200 medley relay that clocked in at 1:36.72, better than Bay Port’s previous sectional and pool record of 1:37.88.
However, Neenah’s 200 medley team of Hrubecky, Maxwell Boehnlein, Eli Rocke and Reilly Donnellan swam even faster, with a first-place time of 1:36.26.
“That was an incredible time, and a great race,” said Donnellan, who led Neenah to a second-place team finish with 312 points.
Individually, Donnellan set a sectional and pool record in the 50 freestyle with a clocking of 21.07 seconds. He’ll likely be added to the state field in the 100 freestyle after finishing second (:47.77) behind Oshkosh West’s Nate Somers, who had a meet and pool record time of 47.00 seconds.
In addition, Donnellan will compete at state in the 200 freestyle relay after teaming with Rocke, Jake Enz and Noah Strey to win the event in 1:29.57.
“I was really happy with the way I performed,” said Donnellan. “I had my best times in both the 50 and the 100, and I was able to help contribute on the relays.”
Somers also set a sectional and pool record in the 200 free (1:42.41), where he bested Hernandez, who was runnerup at 1:43.16. Hernandez, who has been battling a rib ailment in recent weeks, feels that the injury is behind him.
“It wasn’t one of my greatest meets,” said Hernandez. “Last year, I set the pool record in the 500 with a time that was seven seconds faster than I had today. My rib is pretty much healed, but all the time I took off really hurts. I just didn’t have my stamina today, but I’ll do better at state.”
Revolinski of Oshkosh North/Lourdes delivered the final sectional and conference record in the 200 individual medley at 1:56.35.
The diving portion of the meet was held Friday. Appleton North/East’s Joshua Yahr prevailed with a winning score of 465.15, while teammate Matt Wilke was a close second at 464.5.
“As a team, we did fantastic,” said Hernandez. “The relays were great and we really came together as a team.”
APPLETON NORTH/EAST 357, NEENAH 312, OSHKOSH WEST 280.5, MANITOWOC 233.5, OSHKOSH NORTH/LOURDES 175, SHEBOYGAN NORTH 173, FOND DU LAC 160, BAY PORT 157, GREEN BAY SOUTHWEST/EAST/PREBLE/WEST 144, APPLETON WEST/KIMBERLY 107, SHEBOYGAN SOUTH 95, PULASKI 61
Diving: 1. Joshua Yahr ANE 465.15; 2. Matt Wilke ANE 464.35. 4. Efstathious Louvaris AWK 308.95; 6. Evan Bredesen N 277.55. 200 Medley R: 1. Neenah (Kyle Hrubecky, Maxwell Boehnlein, Eli Rocke, Reilly Donnellan) 1:36.26; 2. Appleton North/East (Garner Kohrell, Connor Deitrich, Josiah Vandenberg, Manny Hernandez) 1:36.72. 200 Free: 1. Nate Somers OW 1:42.41; 2. Hernandez ANE 1:43.16; 4. Shane Murphy-Pociask ANE 1:51.32; 7. Karsen Sherrick N 1:55.52. 200 IM: 1. Ryan Revolinski ONL 1:56.35; 2. Boehnlein N 1:59.59; 5. Vandenberg ANE 2:03.13; 8. Aiden Clark N 2:09.56. 50 Free: 1. Donnellan N :21.07; 2. Rocke N :22.33; 5. Deitrich ANE :22.74; 7. Andrew Fraser AWK :22.87. 100 Fly: 1. Kohrell ANE :50.87; 4. Hrubecky N :53.93; 5. Mitchell Bricco ANE :55.19. 100 Free: 1. Somers OW :47.00; 2. Donnellan N :47.77; 4. Rocke N :49.51. 500 Free: 1. Hernandez ANE 4:47.59; 3. Murphy-Pociask ANE 5:00.25; 6. Sherrick N 5:09.36. 200 Free R: 1. Neenah (Rocke, Jake Enz, Noah Strey, Donnellan) 1:29.57; 7. Appleton North/East (Tristan Biese, Daniel Viedma, Bricco, Murphy-Pociask) 1:35.48. 100 Back: 1. Kohrell ANE :51.68; 2. Hrubecky N :52.32; 6. Biese ANE :59.44; 7. Lars Nordang N :59.48. 100 Breast: 1. Sumner Latta ONL 1:00.37; 2. Boehnlein N 1:01.07; 3. Deitrich ANE 1:01.18. 400 Free R: 1. Appleton North/East (Hernandez, Vandenberg, Deitrich, Kohrell) 3:15.05; 6. Neenah (Hrubecky, Sherrick, Clark, Boehnlein) 3:26.03.
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or email@example.com; on Twitter @twfroberg
See highlights from Saturday’s sectional meet, plus an interview with Garner Kohrell of Appleton North/East, at postcrescent.com