Homestead swimmers survive tough sectional, earn state berth
Five individuals, two relays to compete in Madison
Mequon — Homestead boys swim coach Mark Gwidt was used to looking around in past years at sectional and state meets and finding area friends and competitors eager to take his powerful squads down a notch or two.
Which was usually very hard to do.
Now Gwidt's Highlanders are in a reloading mode and doing a fine job of it, only he now looks around and finds that almost all of his area competition is now in Division 2, so he doesn't have as many people to talk to as the lone North Shore area team in Division I.
"It's an interesting situation," he said, noting that Nicolet has now gone into Division 2 with other North Shore teams like Whitefish Bay, Cedarburg, Port Washington and Grafton.
But little matter, because the Highlanders are proving hard to beat again, as in this reloading year, they advanced a remarkable five individuals and two relays for the DI state meet at the UW-Madison Natatorium on Saturday.
"We make our own luck," Gwidt said. "We work hard and we get out of it what we put into it."
The Highlanders will send Erik Larsen in diving, Ben Sjulson in the 50 and 100 freestyles and Cody Burkard in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. In addition, they advanced the 200 free relay team of Sjulson, Erik Erlandson, Gordon Goetz and Burkard; and the 400 free relay crew of Sjulson, Kyle Welna, Erlandson and Burkard.
Diving will be contested at 10 a.m. and swimming will start at 3 p.m.
Larsen was sixth in diving last year at state and is looking to medal again this season. He already has one victory this winter over defending state champion Nathan Cox of Menomonee Falls, to whom he lost at the sectional.
Leaders push hard for state
Gwidt also noted that Sjulson and Burkard will be fully rested for state, something they were not for the sectional.
"They were gritting it out at practice doing 30 hundreds (yard sprints) on Thursday while everybody else was going home early," said Gwidt. "They're swimming tough keeping their eye on the big fish (state). They've been working hard, so we'll give them a lot of rest this week."
The qualifying efforts led the Highlanders to a sixth-place total of 157 points at the Waukesha South sectional as state meet favorite Arrowhead won with 351.
Sjulson is the fifth-seed in the 50 free and the sixth in the 100.
Larsen had the best finish at sectional taking second to Cox with a 419.15 point score. Cox won with a 462.45 point mark. Sjulson did the same in the 50 free (21.87 seconds) and was also third in the 100 free (47.81).
Burkard claimed the 24th and last spot in the 200 IM with his sixth place time of 2:02.36 and was the same in the breaststroke (1:01.55).
So deep was the Waukesha South sectional that the Highlanders 200 free team still made the state cut despite finishing eighth (1:31.68). The 400 crew was sixth (3:21.27).
"It's hard to keep going to state, especially in the relays," said Gwidt. "What we did here was a good sign that we can still provide opportunity in the future."
Other placewinners for the Highlanders by event included the following: diving: Reece Howell, ninth (283.5 points); Will Klingbeil, 11th (254.35); 200 medley relay: Max Timm, Michael Richter, Will Schlageter and Goetz, 10th (1:49.66); 50 free: Goetz, 16th (23.4); 500 free: Drew Miller, 15th (5:24.76); 100 breaststroke: Schlageter, 16th (1:10.02).
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