The boys swimming season is only a few meets old, but Chi-Hi is already posting comparable times to what the team put up at the end of last season.
That sort of early-season success has first-year coach Eric Olson excited for what his team has already done and optimistic about what it can continue to do over the next several months.
“With a lot of the guys we’ve already hit where they left off last year with their times,” Olson said. “The potential for this year is huge. We’re there already and if they keep dropping time, they’re going to be really good.”
The Cardinals bring back nine letterwinners from last season’s team and with growing numbers have already shown the depth needed to compete on a nightly basis.
Chi-Hi won eleven events in a 117-45 dual victory over Superior on Nov. 27 before taking the top spot at last Saturday’s Chi-Hi invite with a score of 460 points, well in front of Marshfield (375) for the top spot. Ian Olson (200-yard individual medley, 100 breaststroke), Cooper Porzondek (50 and 100 freestyle), Zach Topritzhofer (500 freestyle), the 200 medley relay (Andrew Olson, Ian Olson, Gabe Vargas, Cooper Porzondek) and the 400 freestyle relay (Matt Blake, Andrew Olson, Topritzhofer and Porzondek) were all victorious.
“I haven’t seen the excitement that I saw from this team in this pool (at Saturday’s invite) for a long time,” coach Olson said. “They were as a team and the whole just built and built and built and it was just exciting to watch them be excited about their performance.”
Olson advanced to state in the 100 breaststroke a season ago while Topritzhofer just missed a trip to Madison in the 500 free. Porzondek, Blake, Clayton Williams and Adler Kranich return with experience while Vargas, Andrew Olson and Ryan Beranek have already made an impact with the varsity team.
The team has 19 swimmers this season, up from a year ago that should help the team with scoring.
Chi-Hi hosts Hudson on Thursday, a program along with Eau Claire Memorial/North that coach Olson expects to battle atop the Big Rivers Conference.
“I guess what I’m looking for is what are they going to do in here (at practice) when we’re not competing and I think they’re seeing that last Saturday, the reason they did well was because of what they did in here (in practice) during the week,” coach Olson said. “If we can continue that, I think they’re starting to see what the end product is. If we work hard during the week, what can we do on Saturday. No matter if it’s Hudson or Eau Claire or whomever.
“I think they’re starting to understand that the hard work pays off.”
After Chi-Hi’s home event on Thursday the team returns to action in a conference dual at River Falls on Dec. 13 before competing at an invite hosted by Eau Claire North/Memorial on Dec. 15.
The team has one more home dual when the Cardinals face Rice Lake on Jan. 3 but have three total events in Eau Claire, with another invite on Jan. 19 and a dual on Jan. 24.
Results and excitement for the program are already on the rise and Chi-Hi’s new coach is optimistic that can continue as the season shifts fully into gear.
“They’re starting to gel as a team,” coach Olson said. “Swimming is a pretty individual sport but I’m starting to see them now really cheering each other on, working for each other, pushing each other, being there for each other and I think the more we see that in this individual sport, it’s going to take it even higher.”