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Franklin swimmers shatter more records, win first sectional title

Feb. 18, 2014

Josh Lefeber is off swimming in college at Stevens Institute in New Jersey and doing well, Franklin boys swim coach Ross Lennertz said.

He was a highly decorated, school record-setter and state place-winner for the Sabers who graduated a few years ago, serving as a starting point for the resurgence of Franklin swimming.

And boy, would he be happy at the state of affairs for the Sabers right now, who continued to make history Saturday, winning their first WIAA sectional championship and advancing three individuals and two relay teams to this Saturday's state meet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium.

"He would love this," Lennertz said. "... This is just very exciting, because we just keep building, which is the main point all along. All the guys who have worked so hard behind him to maintain this. We've turned from a team where the thinking is that 'he's the star' to the point where the thinking is 'Hey, we all have talent.'"

And that's why the two-time Southeast Conference champions will need a larger van than usual to make the trip to Madison.

Returning senior state place-winning diver August Beck will take part in his specialty again along with the 50-yard freestyle. He will be joined in the diving well by teammate junior Andy Schauer.

In addition, the senior Beck will lead two school-record-setting, underclassmen-loaded relays, including the 200 free team of Hayden Karth, Michael Fischer and Andy Schuetz and the 400 free crew of Schuetz, D.J. Nowacki and Luke Gavronski.

"We got back there (with the relays) despite the fact we lost three off the 200 free (to graduation) last year and at least two or three off the 400 free," Lennertz said. "... The boys got up in the morning and just got going."

Diving will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday as Beck works to improve on his sixth-place finish of a year ago while swimming will start at 3 p.m.

The state-qualifying efforts led the Sabers to a 3261/2 point effort in the 11-team sectional as Kenosha Tremper was second with 283.

Beck continued to be an impressive leader for the underclassmen-heavy Sabers as he won both his individual events. He turned in a strong 11-dive score of 435.35 points to win while Schauer also earned a return trip with a third-place effort of 363.1.

Beck then edged a Badger/Big Foot rival by 0.07 of a second to win the 50 free in 22.09 seconds.

Lennertz was startled at how strong the efforts of the relays were. The 200 free team dropped close to three seconds off its seed time with a winning effort of 1:29.7 while the 400 free team shaved off a preposterous seven seconds from its previous season best with a 3:20.22.

"It was like I was telling people," Lennertz said. "I could see we were coming along well last week (at the conference meet) where our first half of our races were good, but that we were still a little tired in the second half. I knew an extra week of rest would help them out, and it did.

"We even looked a bit tired yet in some of our races and may still have even more left (for state)."

The impressive thing about the day, Lennertz said, is that the team was able to do this without one of its top people. Andrei Conrad could not be at the meet.

"He had things he needed to take care of, but the rest of the guys really stepped it up," Lennertz said.

Best times abounded this day, including another school record by the 200 medley relay team of Gavronski, Fischer, senior Bailey Pleva and Karth, which was fifth in 1:44.41.

Other top efforts were: Diving — Dexter Peirce, 10th (295.35); 200 free — Nowacki, second (1:51.66), Jacob Fellows, seventh (1:57.43); 50 free — Karth, sixth (23.06), Schuetz, eighth (23.21); 100 butterfly — Pleva, eighth (58.23); 100 free — Schuetz, eighth (51.76); 500 free — Gavronski, fourth (5:07.38), Nowacki, fifth (5:07.72), Fellows, ninth (5:29.32); 100 breaststroke — Fischer, fifth (1:03.21).

Lennertz said almost everyone had a great day and especially cited Fellows, as he dropped eight seconds off his time in the 200 free and 12 seconds off his 500 free. He was happy for Beck's fellow senior Pleva for finishing up on a fine note.

"Everyone just swam out of their minds today," he said.

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