Sectional Champs & State Bound

Photo by Leah Taylor
The 2017 Boys Swim and Dive Intercity Champions pose with their well-fought hardware. Scoring 564 points and beating NCHS, second place, by 66 points, the U-High team swept intercity for the first time in three years.

Leah Taylor, Reporter, Photographer

For the first time since 2014, the year they took first place at state, the U-High Boys Swim and Dive team won sectionals. They’re ranked fifteenth in the state, with members of the team ranked first for individual events.

The 2017 state-bound team consists of seniors Kyle Johnson, Elijah Gray, and Simon Heinrich, juniors Colton Stogner, Harrison Fudge, and Anthony Williamson, sophomore Joshua Nepomuceno, and freshman Andy Ritsema.

Qualifying for all of the events he swam and PR’d in at sectionals, Stogner is ranked first in the state for the 100 free with a time of 45.4. He will be swimming the 50 free, where he is tied for second with a time of 20.99, as well as the 200 and 400 free relays. Having qualified for state both his freshman and sophomore year, he’s setting his goals a little higher for this year.

“I don’t want to jinx it but, I think it’d be really cool to win state,” Stogner said. “In the sprint events it’s really hard to say though because everyone is pretty tightly packed.”

Though he’s very serious once he hits the water, Stogner has a playful side to him. His favorite memory during his time on the swim team has been climbing a 20 foot high rope that hangs above the pool during practice at Horton.

“Our coach won’t let us do it anymore, she deemed it unsafe or something. But it’s not unsafe. We all miss it,” Stogner said.

Johnson, will be accompanying Stogner at state. Swimming the 400 free relay for a second year in a row, Johnson has high hopes for the relay’s performance this year.

“It’s the same people and the same order as last year,” Johnson said. “We’ve already beat last year’s time at other meets this year, so we’ll be able to go even faster at state.”

Accompanying Johnson in the 400 free relay are Gray, Stogner, and Williamson. Johnson will also be swimming the 200 free relay, both of which are ranked thirteenth in the state.

Gray has qualified for state two other times in his high school swimming career, and will be competing in the 200 medley relay as well as the 200 free relay this weekend.

“We tend to come back and do pretty well at state. It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” Gray said. “If we all swim our best, we might make top six. That’s the goal right now.”

Ready to help the team meet their goal of top six, Heinrich is an alternate for the 200 free, 400 free, and 200 medley relays. Heinrich is very excited to experience his first time at state in his four years at U-High. The 400 free and 200 medley relays were expected to qualify, but the sectional performance of the 200 free relay was a pleasant surprise to everyone.

“We haven’t had a 200 free relay go to state since my freshman year; it wasn’t supposed to happen,” Heinrich said. “And now we’re ranked thirteenth in the state for it.”

Though this was undoubtedly a standout moment in Heinrich’s swimming career, his favorite high school memory happened back at intercity.

“Sweeping the relays will forever be one of my favorite memories of senior year. We still haven’t gotten the broom back,” Heinrich teased.

As a member of the relays that swept at intercity, Williamson is state bound in all of his events. He will be swimming the 100 free, 200 free, 200 free relay, and 400 free relay. His best time in the 200 free is a 1:42.92 and in the 100 free is a 47.12.

As another standout junior on the team, Fudge qualified for the 200 IM, 100 breast, and the 200 medley relay. Dropping time for the first time since his freshman year, Fudge’s 58.38 100 breast is tied for area best and ranked 14 in the state. Both Fudge and Williamson stressed the importance of the bond that the team shares.

“Being such good friends with everyone on the team definitely helps us be so successful,” Williamson said. “We joke around with each other a lot.”

“We all get to the pool early and hang out and talk in the locker room for hours before practice,” Fudge said. “I feel like that’s what makes us such a tight team.”

On the underclassmen side of the swimming spectrum, Nepomuceno and Ritsema are contributing to the state bound team. As the only sophomore going to state, Nepomuceno will be swimming the fly in the 200 medley relay, the 200 free relay, and the 100 breast. His best time in the 100 breast is a 59.45. Ritsema, the only state bound freshman, will be swimming the backstroke in the 200 medley relay. Both boys are very happy to be a part of the state bound team.

“After sectionals, at Monical’s, and even before, everyone was cranking the music all the way up,” Nepomuceno said. “It was really fun. I’m really excited to be going to state.”

As both the intercity and sectional champions, the team’s philosophy to success is put best by Stogner.

“Our team is about having a lot of fun,” Stogner said. “We just go in, we work hard, we have fun, and we’re crazy.”