The Chi-Hi boys swimming team won four events, but a slow started doomed the Cardinals in a 90-74 dual defeat to River Falls on Thursday evening in a Big Rivers Conference matchup at Chippewa Falls Middle School pool.
Ian Olson won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke while Alan Fox was victorious in the 100 butterfly and Zach Topritzhofer swam to victory in the 500 freestyle.
River Falls won four of the first six events to take control of the dual.
“(We were) a little off,” Chi-Hi coach Nicholas Hora said. “But we’ll take the positives from it. I think it’s a great learning point for the boys.”
The Wildcats won the first two events with victories in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle, events the Cardinals grabbed second-place finishes in with the team of Fox, Olson, Jack Metza and Matt Blake in the 200 medley relay and Topritzhofer in the 200 freestyle.
Olson picked up the first of his victories in the third event of the evening, swimming to the win in two minutes, 22.39 seconds in the individual medley, nearly four seconds in front of Andrew Richardt of River Falls. Two events later, Fox won the 100 butterfly (1:05.17) with Metza taking second place.
Two events after that Topritzhofer swam to a convincing win in the 500 freestyle, winning by more than 18 seconds over Richardt in 5:24.35. Olson was victorious again in the penultimate event of the evening, winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.00.
Blake was second in the 100 freestyle and Fox was runner-up in the 100 backstroke while two Cardinal relays finished in second place — the team of Cooper Porzondek, Olson, Metza and Topritzhofer in the 200 freestyle and the combination of Clayton Williams, Adler Kranich, Elijah Holty and Hunter Diede in the 400 freestyle.
“I did see a couple good swims and some things done right, little things done correctly so we won’t worry too much about the times and we’ll get back to work,” Hora said.
Porzondek (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke) and Holty (100 backstroke) also picked up third-place finishes. The Wildcats dominated in freestyle events, giving them a leg up on the Cardinals, a team Hora says has more depth in other events.
“Sprinting is how you win high school meets and we’re really weak with sprinters, we have good strokers and distance swimmers,” Hora said. “They’ve got some depth in the sprinting and that made it tough to hang with them (River Falls).”
The Cardinals most recently finished in second place out of 10 teams at the team’s home invitational last Saturday.
“I’d rather have an off meet come now instead of at the end of the season,” Hora said.
Chi-Hi is off until hosting Eau Claire Memorial/North next Thursday at the middle school pool, the second to last home event of the season for the Cardinals. The team also hosts a conference dual with Menomonie on Jan. 9.
“This is going to be a little down, but I know we’ll come right back up next week,” Hora said. “We swim against Eau Claire Memorial/North and they’ll be excited about that meet. Obviously Eau Claire is strong and it’s going to be a challenge, but our goal for that meet is just to swim fast. We’ll get up and swim fast at that meet and see what happens.”