MIDDLETON — The Madison West boys swimming team no longer is in chase mode.
The Regents’ depth, talent and No. 1 ranking in the state coaches’ poll now has coach Bill Weaver’s team in the role of the hunted this season. That is a fact Madison West must face, but Weaver likes the Regents’ attitude.
“I think one of the biggest strengths of our group is our mentality,” Weaver said. “We are a really cohesive group. Everyone is moving in the same direction.”
The Regents won four events at Saturday’s Cardinal Relay Invitational and earned the meet title with 360 points. Sixth-ranked Madison Memorial also earned four firsts in the all-relay meet and finished second (344 points), while host and third-ranked Middleton won the 500 freestyle relay and placed third (314 points) among 12 teams.
“We knew coming into the year that we had a lot of talented people, but we have had amazing guys who swam JV last year who are swimming varsity this year,” Madison West senior Lain Weaver said. “People are really stepping up. It is pretty crazy.”
The Ohio State commit anchored the Regents’ victorious 400 freestyle relay (2 minutes, 56.78 seconds), the “pineapple relay” that featured eight competitors swimming 50 yards apiece. He’s hoping for a strong finish to the season by the Regents, who are undefeated in Big Eight Conference dual meets, and individually, after he said a bout with mononucleosis sent him to urgent care a week before the WIAA Division 1 state meet last year and hampered his performance at the meet.
“I’m in a better place,” said Lain Weaver, second in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly at state last year. “I’m excited about how we’ll do.”
He’s also excited about the Regents’ No. 1 ranking.
“That’s awesome,” he said. “It definitely is fuel for us. I feel all right that we are No. 1. I like that, having that edge and having to say, ‘Let’s prove it.’ ”
The Madison West team of Wes Jekel, Henry Miller, Charlie Feller and Matthew Fernandez won the 200 medley relay (1:36.04) and Max Weygandt, Constantin Bensch, Victor Bulat and Isaac Casey claimed the 800 freestyle relay (7:22.78). The Regents’ other victory came in the 300 breaststroke relay, with Noah Casey, Gus Nordmeyer, James Schaak and Miller finishing in 3:01.55.
“I think relays help the guys to dig down and find something a little extra that they don’t always have in an individual event,” coach Weaver said. “It’s a unique event. It’s more of a team atmosphere. There was good competition and a lot of talent. … To walk away with a win, I’m happy with that.”
Josh Barth, Noah Gonring, Will Wowk and Roark Lundal led Madison Memorial to a victory in the 200 freestyle relay (1:29.31) and the Spartans’ Joe Jensen, Lundal, Gerry Vaughan and Alex Wowk, a U.S. Naval Academy commit, collected first in the 300 butterfly relay (2:33.66).
The Spartans also earned firsts in the 100 free relay (Barth, Gonring, Cameren Ketarkus and Lundal in 42.81 seconds) and 300 backstroke relay (Jensen, Will Wowk, Barth, and Alex Wowk in 2:36.55.)
“We are very happy to win four of them and take second place,” Spartans coach Paul Eckerle said. “It’s an opportunity to race and to compete against good competition, and get ready heading into the championship season.”
The Sauk Prairie co-op’s Ayden Frey, Reese Drager, Jake Guentherman and Desmon Sachtgen won the 400 medley relay (3:42.67) and Middleton’s Calvin Roberts, Blake Zillner, Andrew Martin and Michael Draves, an Indiana University commit, claimed the 500 freestyle relay (4:16.09).
Middleton coach Danny Lyman said the Cardinals “looked snappier” than during a dual loss to Madison West on Friday and performed well Saturday despite missing several swimmers due to illness.
Lynam was impressed by the Regents’ top-end depth.
“They have a number of fast guys they can put anywhere,” Lynam said.