The rest of the City League is probably tired of Jake Spitz, and judging by how swiftly most teams exited the Heights’ swimming pool before the Blue Aces took their fifth straight celebratory plunge in the water, they’re probably tired of East winning too.
But for one final night, they watched as Spitz made his case as the one of best swimmers to come out of the City League. Sixteen league championships — Spitz added the final four on Thursday — and owner of four records is a pretty convincing argument.
“There’s been so many good swimmers that have come out of here, though,” East coach Joe Hutchinson said, a clear wrestling match taking place in his mind. “I think he’s right up there with them. In my book, he is just fantastic.”
To be sure, Spitz went out with his best.
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Not only did he win four races, he set City League records in three of them: 1 minute, 38.15 seconds as part of East’s 200-yard medley relay team; 46.59 in the 100 freestyle and 1:29.68 as part of the 200 freestyle relay.
“I’m just really happy with everything that’s happened in the last four years,” Spitz said.
In a night full of triumphs, Spitz was most pleased with his time in the 100 free. He said he still has a week of tapering for his peak performance, so breaking 47 seconds was invigorating.
“It’s like you finish the race and you just want to keep going,” Spitz said. “You feel way more alive.”
Kyle Cullinan of Heights swam well, winning the 200 free and 500 free titles.
But this meet was about the Blue Aces winning eight of the 12 events.
Brandon Shinsato won four titles (200 IM, 100 backstroke and two relays) and Nate Pirner tacked on three (100 breaststroke and two relays), while Dallas Plunkett emerged from the 100 butterfly with a second-place finish and an automatic-qualifying time to the state meet.
It all piled up to East’s most dominating performance at the league meet, winning its fifth consecutive title by a margin of 253 points over second-place Kapaun Mount Carmel.
Cue the annual leap into the pool for the whole team, coaching staff included, and this time with a special guest: East principal Ken Thiessen.
“It never gets old,” said Hutchinson, still dripping wet. “Right now it’s cold and I’d like to be dry, but it’s worth it.”
It was a night of celebration for East and a night of reflection for Spitz, who took some time to consider the accomplishments of his four-year career.
He wasn’t concerned about his place in history, but he was clear about what he wants his legacy to be with his answer to his proudest accomplishment to date. It would have been understandable to pick any of his records or all of his league titles as a whole, but neither of those is the pinnacle for Spitz.
“I think that’s yet to come,” Spitz said after some consideration. “My goal since I’ve been here is to win state as a team because the team is my family. I’m really excited for the state meet.”
Team results—1. East 463½, 2. Kapaun Mount Carmel 210½, 3. Heights 186, 4. Bishop Carroll 136½, 5. Northwest 112½, 6. North 82, 7. South 54, 8. Southeast 53, 9. West 46.
200 medley relay—1. East (Shinsato, Pirner, Spitz, Sousa) 1:38.15; 2. Heights 1:45.36; 3. Carroll 1:46.73. 200 freestyle—1. Cullinan, Heights, 1:48.67; 2. King, East, 1:52.94; 3. Vandeventer, East, 1:54.16. 200 IM—1. Shinsato, East, 1:58.03; 2. Pirner, East, 1:59.52; 3. Blattner, Heights, 2:02.00. 50 freestyle—1. Spitz, East, 21.57; 2. Zimmerman, Heights, 22.81; 3. Kilgour, East, 23.01. Diving—1. Bazzelle, Northwest, 387.2; 2. Shuey, East, 372.3; 3. Schultz, South, 366.55. 100 butterfly—1. Vulgamore, Carroll, 55.21; 2. Plunkett, East, 55.49; 3. Kingrey, 55.89. 100 freestyle—1. Spitz, East, 46.59; 2. Zimmerman, Heights, 50.55; 3. Liepins, North, 50.63. 500 freestyle—1. Cullinan, Heights, 4:51.64; 2. Vandeventer, East, 5:02.32; 3. King, East, 5:11.30. 200 freestyle relay—1. East (Spitz, Pirner, Sousa, Kilgour) 1:29.68; 2. Kapaun 1:35.32; 3. North 1:37.38. 100 backstroke—1. Shinsato, East, 53.11; 2. Blattner, Heights, 54.23; 3. Gantenbein, Heights, 55.36. 100 breaststroke—1.Pirner, East, 59.58; 2. Smith, Carroll, 1:01.89; 3. Sousa, East, 1:02.30. 400 freestyle relay—1. East (Vandeventer, Kilgour, Shinsato, King) 3:21.66; 2. Heights 3:21.74; 3. Kapaun 3:30.96.