The six individuals and one relay team that the Nicolet boys swim squad advanced to the WIAA State Division 1 meet Saturday is the largest contingent the Knights have sent in years.
So, of course, everyone wants to join in the fun.
"We're going to take a coach bus up with the entire team," coach Dwight Davis said. "We make this a biannual event (including the girls team in the fall)."
And it is an event to celebrate as this is an underclassmen-dominated crew that spells a bright future for the Knights.
"We're starting to get back to the other side (of state competitiveness)," Davis said. "...We really haven't paid much attention to state rankings so we just wanted to get in there and see what we could do (at Saturday's sectional meet). We didn't know we could do so well with such a young team.
"The kids were really well-prepared."
Nicolet sends three-time state qualifying junior Michael Mills in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyles as freshman Collin Siverhus also advanced in both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. They are joined by sophomore diver Jeremy Moser and freshman 50 freestyler Riccardo Romersi.
In addition, the 200 free relay team of Mills, senior Michael Hangsterfer, Romersi and Siverhus also get a lane in Saturday's meet at the UW-Madison Natatorium. Diving is at 10 a.m. with swimming finals set for 3 p.m.
"We still had some kids swimming a little heavy, a little tired (at sectional)," Davis said. "So I think we have more gas in the tank. We'll look to enjoy it and gain some experience."
The qualifying spots helped the Knights earn a fifth-place total of 217 points in the 12-team sectional at Cedarburg as Arrowhead won with 371.
Moser claimed the only event victory for the Knights as he earned All-American consideration with a 397.95-point score.
Mills picked up his spots with a four-second, best time of 1:48.23 in the 200 free, good for fourth and a six-second, best time of 4:56.33 in the 500 free, good for fifth.
Siverhus earned a berth in the IM by trimming five seconds off his best effort to take fourth (2:00.85) and then by taking fifth in the breaststroke (1:01.69). Siverhus' IM time is top five in the event in Nicolet history. Romersi took a remarkable .82 of a second off his 50 time to claim fifth (22.5).
The 200 free relay shaved more than three seconds off its season best to claim one of the last spots in the field with a 1:31.71 time.
It was just part of a strong day that included 14 personal best times out of 17 individual swims.
Other good efforts for the Knights included the following: 200 medley relay: Dylan Hall, Siverhus, Ben Cook and Hangsterfer, eighth (1:45.26); 200 free: Ian O'Connor, 14th (1:59.63); 200 IM: Hall, 11th (2:10.29); 50 free: Hangsterfer, 14th (23.72); 100 butterfly: Cook, 11th (58.72); 100 free: Romersi, 11th (51.9); Taylor Hanson, 15th (52.67); 500 free: Devin Harrison, 16th (5:34.05); 100 backstroke: Hall, sixth (1:00.45); Hanson, eighth (1:01.85); and 400 free relay: Hangsterfer, Mills, Romersi and Hanson, sixth (3:26.52).
Nicolet's resurgence began with a grassroots effort by Davis several years ago when he founded the Bananas youth swim club. That effort started getting numbers back up in the program with the better performers eventually heading over to the elite Schroeder Swim Club.
"Almost all our depth kids this year were from the Bananas program while several of the others went to Schroeder," Davis said.
Now the Knights are reaping the rewards.
And what was Davis' reward after the successful sectional on Saturday?
"I went home and got to bed early," he laughed.
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