Wildcats’ Swimming: Hearts of Champions

Rayyaan Usmani, Sports Writer

The Wildcats’ Swimming team is your State champion. The squad faced numerous challenging opponents at the State meet but was able to prevail. The boys trailed by six points after the preliminaries, but showed their depth in the finals en route to a State team championship with 226 points. The Wildcats beat Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, who finished second and third, respectively. Senior captain Sam Zenner stated, “I was obviously super pumped when I realized we had won it all. It was a great moment for the team and I am happy to have finished my high school swimming career on a positive note.”

Zenner swam the 100 freestyle in 21.03 seconds, which placed him third in the meet. Parker Lemke finished in second place in the 100 backstroke with a time of 51.19 seconds. Both Lemke and Zenner were a part of the four-man relay team that placed second in the 200 medley. In total, the Wildcats broke nine school records at the meet. Senior varsity member Max Najlis stated, “The seniors all motivate and lead the team. The captains [Adam Pugh, Eli Broman, and Sam Zenner] are huge for the team. The divers motivate us swimmers, and we swimmers motivate the divers. So overall, we all contribute to motivating each other.” The extra motivation and will to succeed that the Wildcats showed paid off towards the end.

Overall, the team managed to reach its goals. As a team, the boys finished first in the state, which was obviously the goal from day one. “Our goals were just to win it all, that’s what we said at the beginning of the year. We worked our tails off and ended up following through,” stated Zenner. But in addition to the team goals, many individuals reached their own goals as well. Najlis chimed in, explaining, “I know, individually, we all set some pretty big goals. I personally reached most of mine, and I believe most people reached theirs.”

The Wildcats’ swimming squad was honored during a pep-fest just this past week. Najlis stated that it was a surreal moment, and it was sort of like reliving the great moments after they realized they had won the State meet. But there is one aspect that Najlis will remember for quite a while. “They played ‘We Are The Champions” after the State meet and again during the pep-fest. It just had me remembering the moment we had as a team after we realized we had won.” Zenner pulled a crazy stunt as he was honored during the celebration, fake swimming to the middle of the gym. “Some of the teachers were saying that we should have a pool we should swim in, and I thought it was a great idea! People were just walking up there, so I decided to switch it up a bit and do something crazy.” Congratulations Sam, you succeeded.

Even though the present has been bright, the future is bright as well. Yes, the team will lose quite a few seniors this year, but the team has enough depth to overcome the losses. Najlis and Zenner both agree that the team has young talent that will be able to lead the team in the upcoming years. According to Zenner, these young guys put it all out there and go all in to whatever they are doing. This is a great sign, especially since the team has to overcome the loss of many seniors. But let’s not get too far into the future – let’s celebrate the present. After all, we are the champions.