The celebratory cake wasn’t even fully devoured yet before the Chi-Hi/McDonell boys swim team turned its eyes toward the next goal.
The Cardinals capped off the regular season in impressive fashion with a 101-65 win over Wausau East on Tuesday, grabbing personal records and dropping time at a rate that downright baffles first-year coach Paul Froelich.
“Right before taper they should be really tired, so they shouldn’t be going anywhere,” Froelich said. “I have beaten the snot out of these kids and it seems like they just keep responding. You can’t break them. I’m just so excited to see where they’re going to go.”
Chi-Hi/McDonell won eight of the meet’s 11 events to roll to victory, but it wasn’t the wins that surprised Froelich. With the Big Rivers Conference meet looming large as the next item on the agenda, the Cardinals showed tremendous poise and effort by improving and dropping time.
“They’re resilient,” Froelich said. “They just keep going. It’s so impressive to watch them just keep going, day in and day out.”
Max McCanna led the Cardinals with wins in the 100 butterfly (59.36) and the 100 backstroke (1:00.11). Sam Wiseman finished first in the 200 freestyle (2:06.02) and Noah Roseen took first in the 100 free (52.99). Brennen Miller won the 500 free (5:44.28) and took second in the 200 IM (2:17.83).
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The Cardinals had two events that provided major scoring boosts. McCanna’s win in the 100 fly followed by Tyler Zwiefelhofer in second (1:02.25) and Alan Fox in fourth (1:15.3) gave Chi-Hi/McDonell 12 points in the event. In the 500 free, Miller’s win, Ryan Wolff’s second-place finish (6:08.3) and Fox’s fifth-place finish (6:29.16) provided an 11-point swing.
It took more than just first-place finishes to beat the Lumberjacks, and as the season enters the homestretch, the Cardinals depth has been key to its ability to keep improving and dropping time.
“Everyone is swimming great times,” McCanna said. “I thought it was a great way to end the regular season. It definitely gives us a good little boost to get going into conference and sectionals.”
Chi-Hi/McDonell won a pair of relays over Wausau East. McCanna, Zach Simonsen, Miller and Roseen teamed to win the 200 medley relay in 1:50.99. Wiseman, Nolan Tilton, Andrew Fliehr and Zwiefelhofer took first in the 200 free relay (1:44.77), followed by the Cardinals’ second team of Ben Blake, Tyler Mason, Will Blake and Mitch Hayes (1:54.87) in second place.
Froelich said that even in the final regular-season meet he was still shuffling his lineup to see which swimmers would work best in certain positions. His team’s ability to continue to drop time showed him just how deep and talented a roster he has.
“We’ve got guys in different places, different events, and they’re still swimming for their spots but they just keep responding,” Froelich said. “They work off each other, they drive into things and it’s so impressive to watch them together. They are such a cohesive unit top to bottom.”
The BRC meet will be held Feb. 7 at River Falls. Froelich now knows what to expect from his team, and he sees no signs of it slowing down.
“They’ve done it all year,” Froelich said. “They’ve come into every meet, I set my expectations and they blow them out of the water. I set them higher, and they keep going. The sky is the limit with these guys. I still don’t know where I can push them too because they just keep going.”