As the East boys swimming team prepared for Thursday’s City League meet at South, coach Joe Hutchinson looked back to the same time period in 2013.
It’s how Hutchinson, whose team rolled through the City League’s regular season undefeated and is the heavy favorite to win its sixth straight league title, sees how well each swimmer has progressed.
If they’re swimming faster than a year ago, it bodes well for the league meet and the Class 6A meet Feb. 21-22.
A prime example for just how well East is swimming is Joe Draut.
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“Last year at this time he hadn’t qualified for the state meet yet,” Hutchinson said. “So we needed this meet to be his best of the season. He qualified, but this year, he has already qualified.”
See, East’s focus is on winning its second straight 6A title. If the Aces don’t have to use the City League meet as a state qualifier, then their fastest meet can be at state.
“(State) has been our focus for the year and the kids know it and I know it,” Hutchinson said. “We aren’t looking past this meet by any means. It’s a stop along the way, and we are looking forward to seeing what we can do at the state meet.”
East’s depth is what will carry the Aces to another City League title.
“Everybody has some good swimmers,” Heights coach Dale Heckman said. “… Everybody has a kid or two who has a chance to medal, be in the top three. With East’s depth and only scoring 12 spots, he’s probably going to get three, four in each of those. That kind of spreads it out for the rest of us.”
East battled injuries early in the season. Brandon Shinsato and Will Spitz missed a month or more due to back injuries. Kevin Kilgour suffered a broken arm and missed about three weeks. Nate Pirner had mono and several others had the flu.
“Were we going to be OK for the entire year, that was my big concern,” Hutchinson said.
The Aces have rebounded well.
East has the top seed times in the 200 yard medley (Brandon Vandeventer), 200 freestyle (Vandeventer), 200 free relay, 100 backstroke (Shinsato), 100 breaststroke (Pirner) and the top two in the 400 free relay by 14 seconds. East also has the top two in the 100 butterfly (Brandon Kingrey, Kilgour), in the 100 free (Shinsato, Spitz) and the 500 free (Vandeventer, Philip Aaby).
While the team title may be decided early, individual races will be highly competitive.
Heights’ Bryce Blattner has the top seed time in the 200 IM and is second in the 100 back, while Dawson Gantenbein is second in the 200 free, third in the 100 fly. Heights also is second in the 200 free relay.
“They’ll be very good (races),” Heckman said. “The IM, they’ll push each other to the record. Yes, I think someone will get the City League record. In the backstroke, our area probably has three of the top five backstrokers in the state with Shinsato, Blattner and Maize South’s Jon Lavalle.”
Other swimmers to watch include North’s Riley Roach, who has the best seed time in the 50 free (22.94), .03 ahead of Spitz. Heights’ Dylan Jensen is at 23.04.
West’s John McCullough is third in the 500 free and Carroll’s Will Smith is second in the 100 breast.
CITY LEAGUE BOYS SWIM MEET
Where: South High, 701 W. 33rd Street South
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday