The day has finally arrived for six members of the Baraboo High School boys swimming team, as Aidan Lohr, Jasper Swallen, Rowan School, Paul Hainz, Noah Larson, and Josh Hackbarth will compete at the WIAA Div. 2 State Swimming Championships tonight at the UW-Natatorium in Madison.
It will be the second straight trip to state for Hackbarth, Hainz, and Larson, while Lohr, Swallen and School will compete for the first time. Baraboo will compete in a total of eight events, including all three relays.
“This is the first year for me that all three relays have qualified, so that’s awesome. That medley relay, they have worked really hard so it was really nice to see them get in,” head coach Heather Frank said. “It’s nice to have so many events this year. They’ve really come together.”
All eyes will be centered on Larson, who looks to defend his state title in the 50 and 100 freestyle. In the 50 free, Larson took first in last year’s state competition with a 20.78 and is seeded first in the event this year after recording a 21.34 at sectionals. His biggest competition will come from Cedarburg’s Will Hobbs, who is seeded just six one-hundredths of a second behind Larson.
In the 100 free meanwhile, Larson is seeded second behind Hobbs with a time of 47.65. Last year, the senior edged Hobbs by one one-hundredths of a second with a time of 46.72.
“Last year he hung on, and may have been a touch slower (at state),” said Frank on Larson. “He’s seeded second, behind the gentleman that he beat last year. So it will be good (race).”
While Larson’s quest is a historic one, a couple of other storylines surround the T-Birds as well. The quartet of Lohr, Swallen, School, and Hainz are not only hoping to place on Friday in the 200 medley relay, but they are also looking to break a school record in the event. The quartet is seeded with a time of 1:44.54. Hainz, a senior who will anchor the medley relay, said they are just three seconds shy of the school record.
“I think beating our records is our main goal for sure. But I mean obviously making the podium would be great too. We’ve all got our own personal placement that we want for split times in the relays too.”
It’s a similar story in the 200 free relay, as Hackbarth, Hainz, School, and Larson are about three seconds shy of setting a new school record as well. The team is seeded fifth in the event (1:30.57), with the top six teams earning spots on the podium. Last year, Hackbarth, Hainz, Larson, and Sean Cormican finished two spots shy, taking eighth with a 1:30.47. Finally, the team of Hackbarth, Lohr, School, and Larson will compete in the 400 free relay, and sits in the sixth seed with a time of 3:23.14.
Individually, Hackbarth will be competing in the 200 free, with a seed time of 1:51.24 while Lohr will compete in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke. Lohr’s seed time of 2:01.98 in the 200 IM puts him in the first heat on Friday, while his time of 55.14 in the backstroke will be right in the mix for potentially earning a spot on the podium.
Frank said she’s pushed the team to work harder than ever before this season.
“It kind of comes down to how I did. They’ve done everything that I’ve asked them to do, but I’ve tried to do things a little bit differently this year in hopes to get a little more speed out of them come state. We have the tendency to qualify for state, and then it’s that ‘Oh jeez we made it (mentality).’ But it’s like no; we still have work to do. We can still do really well.”