LAKE GENEVA — With one event left in Saturday’s Southern Lakes Conference Championships this year’s conference title was still up for grabs.
The host Lake Geneva Badger co-op was clinging to a slim six-point lead, with regular season champion Platteville/Lancaster nipping at its heals.
In need of standout performances, both of Platteville/Lancaster’s 400-yard freestyle relays team delivered under pressure.
The Hillmen 400 “B” relay of Jake Fulton, David Drefcinski, Alvaro Plaza and Ryan Murray cut seven seconds of their season-best time for a valuable fifth-place finish.
Meanwhile, the Hillmen “A” relay — an all-senior quartet of Ryan Heberliein, Wade Roberts, Nicholas Volkmann and Brenden Polkinghorn — swam to a first-place finish of 3:29.13, upsetting top-seed Elkhorn, and in the process clinched just the second conference title in the 33-year history of the Platteville/Lancaster boys’ swimming program.
Platteville/Lancaster won its only other conference title in boys’ swimming in 2005.
“We did not have a lead in the scoring until after the last event,” explained Hillmen head coach Tom Caccia. “We pulled to within five points of Badger after the second event, but just didn’t pull it together until after the final one. I respect [Badger] Coach Glenn Biller very much. He is a fantastic coach and he had his team ready to swim as well as any team I have ever seen. They really surprised not only us, but the entire conference.
The Badger co-op finished 4–2 in conference duals during the regular season and entered Saturday’s conference championship in third place in the league standings.
“I had faith in our kids, but his were really ready for this meet in their own pool. They did a great job.”
The Hillmen scored 68 points in the final event, while Badger scored 52 as Platteville/Lancaster finished with a meet-best 453, 10 more than Badger’s 443.
All 24 Platteville/Lancaster entries scored in the meet, once again showing its superior team depth that led to a perfect 11–0 dual meet season.
“This was a great meet; Truly, a team effort and one in which we needed every point that was scored,” added Caccia. “The guys came together and exceeded every expectation. A great end to a terrific regular season. I’m very proud of our guys and how they represented our communities.”
Polkinghorn, who anchored the winning 400 free relay, also anchored Platteville/Lancaster’s conference champion 200-yard freestyle relay (1:35.21) and won an individual conference title in the 100 freestyle (51.64). He also placed second in the 200 freestyle (1:55.03) and finished as the meet’s top scoring in, accumulating 57 team points out of a possible 60.
Volkmann, Roberts and fellow senior Jordan Kress comprised the championship 200 free relay.
Kress finished third in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.05), while junior Ben Bahr earned a bronze medal in the 100-yard backstroke (1:06.73).
Kress and Bahr also teammed with sophomore Sam Iselin and senior Ryan Heberlein to finish second in the 200 medley relay (1:48.17).
Platteville/Lancaster returns to action Saturday at the WIAA Divison 2 Baraboo Sectional, that begins at 11:30 a.m.
The sectional winners, as well as the next 12 fastest times in the state in each event will qualify for the D2 state meet that will be held Feb. 15 at the UW Natatorium in Madison.
Southern Lakes Conference Championships
(from Saturday, Feb. 2 @ Lake Geneva)
Team Scores: 1.Platteville/Lancaster 453, 2.Lake Geneva Badger Co-op 443, 3.Elkhorn 438.5, 4.Whitewater 344, 5.Burlington Co-op 226, 6.Delavan–Darien 158, 7.Jefferson/Cambridge 52.5.
Final Conference Standings: 1.Platteville/Lancaster 26, 2.Badger Co-op 28, 3.Elkhorn 26, 4.Whitewater 18, 5.Burlington 12, 6.Delavan–Darien 6, 7.Jefferson/Cambridge 0.
Platteville/Lancaster’s top finishers
200 medley relay — 2.Pla/Lan (Jordan Kress, Ben Bahr, Sam Iselin, Ryan Heberlein) 1:48.17. 200 freestyle — 2.Brenden Polkinghorn (P/L) 1:55.03. 100 freestyle — 1.Polkinghorn (P/L) 51.64. 200 freestyle relay — 1.Pla/Lan (Nicholas Volkmann, Wade Roberts, Jordan Kress, Polkinghorn) 1:35.21. 100 breaststroke — 3.Ben Bahr (P/L) 1:06.73. 100 backstroke — 3.Kress (P/L) 1:04.05. 400 freestyle — 1.Pla/Lan (Heberlein, Roberts, Volkmann, Polkinghorn) 3:29.13.