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Written by Benny Liang, Swimming World College Intern
The 2017 WIAA Boys Division I Swimming and Diving Championships took place Saturday, February 18th at the UW-Madison Natatorium. Paul DeLakis of Eau Claire Memorial North and Danny Larson of Wauwatosa West led their teams, taking multiple wins in their senior year.
After finishing in sixth place a year ago, the Sauk Prairie quartet of Desmon Sachtjen, Owen Doerre, Ayden Frey and Ben Chao surpassed all expectations when they won the 200 medley relay from lane one. Practically even with Madison West at the 100, Frey and Chao turned it on to pull the lead by a second in the back half. Their time of 1:34.04 marked a three-and-a-half second drop from last year. Madison West took second in 1:34.98 and defending champions Madison Memorial took third in 1:35.46.
In the 200 freestyle, three time runner-up Larson finally got his title. Taking the race out in 23.27, Larson consistently split 25 lows the rest of the way to finish in 1:38.95. The race between the second and fourth place finishers were very close; less than a tenth separated the trio. Madison Memorial senior Drake Horton took silver in 1:40.78, followed by Waukesha South junior John Acevedo in 1:40.80 and Middleton junior Michael Draves.
Delakis set the 200 IM state record in 2015 at 1:46.91. He elected to swim the 200 free instead his junior year and knocked nearly two seconds off the old state record of 1:38.02, replacing it with a time of 1:36.10. His senior year, DeLakis returned to take back his title in the IM. Facing off against Hudson sophomore Shane Blinkman, DeLakis went 1:46.18 to smash his own record. Blinkman finished in 1:47.12, followed by West Bend junior Bryan Fitzgerald in 1:51.83.
A triplet of juniors led the way in the splash-n-dash. Ryan Linnihan of Brookfield Central improved six places from his finish last year to take the title in 20.99. Lain Weaver of Madison West made a move in the second-to-last heat and improved six tenths on his seed time to take second in 21.10. Lucas Farrar of Arrowhead rounded out the top three in 21.22.
The 100 fly had another surprise performance come out of lane one. Alex Wowk, seeded seventh in 52.61, dropped over three seconds to take the event in 49.50. Last years runner-up Weaver outsplit Wowk on the second 50 but wasn’t able to catch him. Weaver finished in 49.75, with Green Bay freshman Kaiser Neverman in close pursuit. Neverman touched in 50.12.
Larson made it two-for-two in the 100 free, successfully defending his title. Boasting the fastest split coming home, Larson ran down Horton, Ben Redman of Eau Claire Memorial and 50 free champ Linnihan in the final stretch. Larson touched in 46.13, followed by Horton in 46.30, Redman in 46.31 and Linnihan in 46.38.
In the longest freestyle race of the night, 200 free bronze medalist Acevedo took top honors. Leading the race from start to finish, Acevedo dominated the field, posting the fastest split each 50 of the race. He finished in 4:30.12, just over a second shy of the state record time of 4:28.98 set in 2009 by Ryan Hansen. Two more juniors joined Acevedo on the podium; Draves and Fitzgerald finished in 4:33.52 and 4:34.90, respectively.
In the 200 free relay, it was DeLakis who gave Eau Claire Memorial their second win of the night. Entering the water over a second behind Waukesha South’s Jeremy Nagy, DeLakis dropped a 19.74 to outsplit Nagy by over two seconds. DeLakis’s sub-20 split makes him one of two swimmers in WIAA history to do so, the other being Derek Toomey of Verona who split 19.78 in 2010. Eau Claire won the race in 1:25.06. Waukesha South came in second with a time of 1:25.74, followed by Arrowhead in 1:26.39.
Hudson’s Blinkman won the 100 yard backstroke in record-breaking fashion. After taking lead at the 50 in 23.96, Blinkman hit the gas on the second 50, bringing it home in 24.88 to finish in a time of 48.84. Madison West sophomore Wes Jekel finished second in 50.26; 100 fly champ Wowk was the third and final swimmer to crack 51 seconds, finishing in 50.47.
DeLakis made his final individual race one to remember. A year ago, he fell short of the state record in the 100 yard breaststroke by a quarter of a second. That record, held by his brother Alex DeLakis, was set in 2013 at 54.56. This year, DeLakis went 54.08 to take his fourth consecutive win in the event. Notably, this marks the eighth straight year a DeLakis has won this event. Neenah senior Maxwell Boehnlein took second in 55.64, followed by Henry Miller of Madison West in 57.69.
Redman, Andrew Vierbicher, and Sam Chumas joined DeLakis in the 400 free relay to win the last event of the night in 3:07.63. DeLakis split 43.53 coming home to overtake Arrowhead, who finished in 3:09.07. Madison West took third in 3:09.52.
Full results available here.