Behind Beck, Franklin swimmers repeat as Southeast Conference champs
Senior has hand in four wins
When the Franklin boys swimming and diving team won a historic Southeast Conference title last year, team members jumped around, dunked each other and laughed until they cried.
This time around, last Saturday, the Sabers acted just like they should — like they had been there before. With August Beck leading the way to four event titles, Franklin cruised to a repeat championship at Racine Case.
Hopefully, that achievement will net them a little respect in area circles.
"This was very nice," said coach Ross Lennertz. "Last year it was not quite as expected. This year, we knew we were going in as favorites. Still, it was good to have them come in and perform like they did. To do what they did in a big meet like this is impressive.
"But we'd like to get a little respect. We've won a couple of meets (invites) this year and we still can't get into the top 10 (of area polls) even though we've beaten about six out of the 10 teams.
"We really used that as motivation here."
Beck, who won diving and the 50-yard free and who helped the 200 and 400 free relays to victory, was also pleased. Beck is having a heck of a senior year, having earned All-Suburban honors in football after helping the Sabers earn the WIAA Division 1 state runner-up spot last fall.
"The stands weren't as full and the pool deck was a little more crowded (because Case has a small deck)," said Beck, "but this title is even more satisfying, knowing that I won all four of my events (and helped the team win).
"It was fun, and if not for all the younger kids on the team we wouldn't have won by as much as we did."
The Sabers now head to the WIAA sectional meet this weekend. Diving will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at Racine Park and then swimming at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carthage College in Kenosha.
The winner of each event plus the next 16 best performances from all sectionals statewide will advance to the WIAA Division 1 state meet Feb. 22 in Madison. Beck was sixth at state diving last season.
"We had 17 kids out at the conference and only seven of them were fully rested," Lennertz said. "They'll be more tapering for sectional."
The Sabers scored 472 points to easily outdistance Kenosha Tremper (405) in the Southeast standings.
Beck got things off to a good start for the Sabers by winning diving with a 404.2 point total. He started off with two poor dives but then righted himself. He got help from Andy Schauer (third, 340.8) and Dexter Pierce (eighth, 271.1).
He then turned in a very quick time of 22.3 seconds in claiming the 50 free. Lennertz said he was hoping for a 22.6 or so, but Beck turned in a sensational race.
The winning relays turned in season-best times as sophomore Hayden Karth, Andy Schuetz and Mike Fischer joined Beck in turning in a 1:32.47 clocking in the 200 free and then Karth, Schuetz, and freshman D. J. Nowacki went along with Beck on the 400 free as they clocked a time of 3:27.07.
Beck was very pleased with his 48-plus second 100 free split on the 400 relay.
Other top efforts were turned in by Nowacki, who was second in the 500 free (5:09.79) and Fischer, who was third in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.81). The 200 medley relay team of sophomore Luke Gavronski, Fischer, sophomore Andrei Conrad and Karth was fifth in a season best of 1:46.48, just off the school record.
Also earning good places were the following: 200 free — Nowacki, fourth (1:54.63); Gavronski, fifth (1:57.69). 200 individual medley — Fischer, fifth (2:14.93); Conrad, ninth (2:17.91); Ryan Fitzgerald, 10th (2:35.37). 50 free — Karth, fourth (23.95); Schuetz, eighth (24.28). 100 butterfly — Conrad, fifth (58.92); Bailey Plewa, seventh (1:00.37); Matt Herrick, ninth (1:04.06). 100 free — Schuetz, seventh (53.92); Harrison Miller, 10th (56.85). 500 free — Gavronski, fourth (5:12.99).
"Obviously we were pleased," Lennertz said. "We felt we deserved this after going through the dual meet season undefeated. We just had an easier time because we had more depth this year."
Beck, like in football, is just grateful for the opportunity.
"Going into the football season, we were just hoping to make Level 3 or 4 of the playoffs, but once we buried Mukwonago (in the state semifinals) that was just great," he said, "and now in swimming, after qualifying for state sophomore and junior year with the potential of going again, it just couldn't be any better."
And there's still more ahead.
"We're very excited for sectional," Lennertz said. "We'll try to get some qualifiers for state and try to give it a run for the team title. We'll take what we can get."
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