Swimmers keep showing improvementThe Wildcat boys’ swimming and diving team dropped a 136-50 decision to Eau Claire North/Memorial Thursday, Jan. 13 before taking fourth place at the nine-team Packer Invitational in South St. Paul Saturday, Jan. 15.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The Wildcat boys’ swimming and diving team dropped a 136-50 decision to Eau Claire North/Memorial Thursday, Jan. 13 before taking fourth place at the nine-team Packer Invitational in South St. Paul Saturday, Jan. 15.
The Cats posted just one first place finish in their dual meet with Eau Claire, but recorded two in the multi-team Packer Invite.
Head coach Kirk Gednalske said the team has battled some non-swimming related injuries this season, but that hasn’t gotten the swimmers down.
“It has been a pretty challenging season,” he said. “We've had quite a few injuries and oddly enough few were actually related to swimming. So, the team is one appendix short but that hasn't affected how well they have been doing.”
Tim Weller posted the Cats’ only first place finish last Thursday against Eau Claire, winning the 200 yard individual medley with a time of 2 minutes, 10.51 seconds. He also took second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.56 seconds and helped two relay teams to second place finishes.
In the 200 medley relay, Weller, Dan Schraufnagel, Andy Yelken and Alex Haskins took second with a time of 1:46.53, and in the 200 freestyle relay, Yelken, Brad Kessler, Haskins and Weller finished second in 1:37.5.
Yelken added a third place time of 23.81 seconds in the 50 freestyle and Tom Ramquist took third in the 100 butterfly in 1:01.32 while Schraufnagel was third in the 100 freestyle in 56.01 seconds.
“Junior Brad Kessler has also made some really big gains this season,” Gednalske said. “His breaststroke and IM swims have really been impressive this season, already surpassing last season's sectional swims.”
Saturday at the Packer Invite in South St. Paul, the Cats opened the meet by taking first place in the 200 medley relay, with Weller, Schraufnagel, Haskins and Yelken winning with a time of 1:45.36.
Later in the meet, Schraufnagel and Kessler swept the top two spots in the 100 breaststroke with Schraufnagel winning in 1:06.26 and Kessler second in 1:07.75. Weller added a second place time of 58.15 seconds in the 100 backstroke while the 200 freestyle relay team of Yelken, Kessler, Haskins and Weller finished third with a time of 1:36.6.
Gednalske said a number of Wildcats are looking good heading into the stretch run.
“Senior Heath Westburg is shining in his 500 swim,” he said. “He has dropped over 30 seconds since mid-season -- no small feat in a swim that long.
“Senior Wesley Moon is making it a great last season also. He's developing a strong breaststroke and has been dropping time steadily all season long. He'll have a great finish this season.”
The Cats will visit Menomonie Thursday for a Big Rivers Conference dual and compete in the Old Abe Invitational at Eau Claire Memorial Saturday. The BRC Championships are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5, in Chippewa Falls.
“Overall, I couldn't be happier with the progress of this season,” Gednalske said. “All the boys are working really hard and its showing. We've been having practice every day, twice a day for the last couple of weeks. It's been a tough season but they're starting to realize that this tremendous amount of work will pay off.”