This is the first in a series highlighting the Gannett Cental Wisconsin Media’s athletes of the year for the winter season.
STEVENS POINT – Tom Negaard’s career with the Stevens Point Area Senior High boys swim team began with a humble goal.
“It was just to earn my first varsity letter after missing it by only a couple points in cross country,” Negaard said Thursday. “That was what my first goal was.”
Negaard accomplished that as a freshman — just a start to a stellar career with the Panthers, which has included conference championships, program records and WIAA state meet appearances.
This year as a senior, he helped SPASH to its fourth straight Wisconsin Valley Conference championship, and was first in the the 50- and 100-yard free and part of two winning relay teams — the 200 free and 200 medley — in the conference meet.
He also qualified for the state meet in those four events as well.
For his performance, Negaard has been selected as the Gannett Central Wisconsin Media’s boys swimmer of the year.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year,” Negaard said. “Everything I accomplished is because of great teammates that I have surrounded myself with and a great attitude that I have tried to keep.”
SPASH coach Bob Allen said Negaard was a mild-mannered freshman who eventually found his voice with the team and became a tri-captain in his final season.
“He is someone who led by example,” Allen said. “Certainly he has natural talent, but he pushes himself to the ‘nth’ degree. You never had to worry about him not doing the full workout and more (in practice). The younger guys see him working hard and popping good times and want to do the same thing too.
“He is just a well-rounded scholar athlete. His GPA is something like 3.98 and he’s a tri-sport athlete,” Harris said. “He is a kid who is willing to listen and work hard. I use this over and over, but he is just a well-rounded good kid.”
Negaard was part of two relay teams that set pool records at SPASH over the past two seasons. The 200 free team that set the mark of 1 minute, 31.16 seconds in January, breaking the mark the team set last year by .43 seconds.
Negaard also was part of the SPASH 400 free relay team that set the pool record last year in 3:22.14.
He also had a career-best time of 48.77 seconds in the 100 free this year, and went 22.11 in the 50 free.
“It’s pretty phenomenal times,” Allen said. “With his growth and development, he has just gotten better and better each year.”
Negaard, who started swimming in his elementary school days, was part of a talented freshman class that came into the Panthers program four years ago. The team had nine seniors on the roster this season
“We have been swimming together for so long and we really pushed each other every day in practice for years,” Negaard said of the senior class. “It has really helped us all become the swimmers and athletes we are today.”
His career might not be over yet.
Negaard, who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college, has received interest from the University of St. Thomas.
“The biggest thing (with swimming) is probably all the great people I have met through the sport and the memories that I have of them,” Negaard said. “Swimming can be demanding with the grueling practice and early-morning routines, but there are those relationships with the teams. That is what I really have taken away from it.”
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11
200 medley relay: SPASH (Tom Negaard, Tyler Tanko, Ben Harris, Aaron Bink). 200 free: Zach Dahlseng, so., SPASH. 200 IM: Tyler Tanko, sr., SPASH. 50 free: Tom Negaard, sr., SPASH. 100 butterfly: Ben Harris, jr., SPASH. 100 free: 1. Tom Negaard, sr., SPASH. 500 free: Zach Dahlseng, so., SPASH. 200 free relay: SPASH (Tom Negaard, Tyler Tanko, Aaron Bink, Ben Harris). 100 back: Jordan Straub, fr., Wausau East 100 breast: Brett Burris, jr., Wisconsin Rapids. 400 free relay: SPASH (Aaron Bink, Adam Wentzel, Hunter Shulfer, Zach Dahlseng).
200 medley relay: Wisconsin Rapids (Drake Blossfield, Brett Burris, Jonah Mancl, Thomas Matuszak). 200 free: Dylan Engelbright, fr., Wisconsin Rapids; Jared Larson, jr., SPASH. 200 IM: Jeremy Meerstein, so., Wausau East. 50 free: Ben Harris, jr., SPASH. 100 butterfly: Jonah Mancl, jr., Wisconsin Rapids. 100 free: Aaron Bink, sr., SPASH. 500 free: Jordan Straub, fr., Wausau East. 200 free relay: Wisconsin Rapids (Brett Burris, Jonah Mancl, Dylan Engelbright, Thomas Matuszak). 100 back: Drake Blossfield, so., Wisconsin Rapids. 400 free relay: Wisconsin Rapids (Nick Norton, Jonah Mancl, Drake Blossfield, Thomas Matuszak).
200 medley relay: SPASH (Zach Dahlseng, Jared Larson, Hunter Shulfer, Adam Wentzel). 200 IM: Tyler Aaseng, sr., Wisconsin Rapids; 50 free: Brett Burris, jr., Wisconsin Rapids. 100 butterfly: Dylan Engelbright, fr., Wisconsin Rapids. Thomas Matuszak, sr., Wisconsin Rapids. 500 free: Drake Blossfield, so., Wisconsin Rapids. 200 free relay: Wausau East (Phoenix Ehn, JeremyMeerstein, Axel Treinen, Caleb Moses). 100 back: Jared Larson, jr., SPASH. 100 breast: Hunter Shulfer, so., SPASH. 400 free relay: Wausau East (Caleb Moses, Aaron Russow, Phoenix Ehn, Jordan Straub).
200 medley relay: Shawano (Zach Soper, Griffin Rades, Rolando Colon, Jake Klister). 200 free: Nick Garcia, Lakeland. 200 IM: Griffin Rades, Shawano. 50 free: Colin Koss, Antigo. 100 butterfly: Nick Garcia, Lakeland. 500 free: Jack Garcia, Lakeland. 500 free: Jack Garcia, Lakeland. 200 free relay: Rhinelander (Kirby Kuehn, Alex Gaber, Ethan Brown, Jake Zalewski). 100 back: Griffin Rades, Shawano. 100 breast: Zach Soper, Shawno. 400 free relay: Shawano (Adrian Tetting, Rolando Colon, Griffin Rades, Zach Soper).
200 medley relay: Rhinelander (Ethan Brown, Jake Zalewski, Kirby Kuehn, Alex Gaber). 200 free: Rolando Colon, Shawano. 200 IM: Ethan Brown, Rhineland. 50 free: Logan Loretz, Tomahawk. 100 butterfly: Colin Koss, Antigo. 100 free: Logan Loretz, Tomahawk. 500 free: Rolando Colon, Shawano. 200 free relay: Lakeland (Nate Kellner, Jack Garcia, Evan Andrews, Nick Garcia). 100 back: Nate Kellner, Lakeland. 100 breast: Jake Zalewski, Rhinelander. 400 free relay: Lakeland (Nate Kellner, Jack Garcia, Evan Andrews, Nick Garcia).
200 medley relay: Antigo (Bram Roff, Alex Gray, Austin Arlen, Colin Koss). 200 free: Nathan Goehe, Tomahawk. 200 IM: Jack Garcia, Lakeland. 50 free: Jake Klister, Shawano. 500 free: Bram Roff, Antigo. 200 free relay: Antigo (Bram Roff, Austin Arlen, Alex Gray, Colin Koss). 100 back: Jacob Hamerla, Lakeland. 100 breast: Alex Gray, Antigo. 400 free relay: Antigo (Austin Arlen, Collin Cooper, Zach Reineke, Holden Meidl).