Hazen dominates boys conference swim meet

January 2, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The Hazen High School boys swim team may have won 11 of 12 events at its Dec. 20 swim meet against Lindbergh. The team may have soundly defeated its conference foe, 128-57. None of that mattered to Hazen coach Rick Wertman.

“Part of what I ask the boys to measure themselves against is how supportive are we? Are we being good sports? Good sportsmanship means caring enough to give your best,” he said.

The team did give its best, Wertman said, with several swimmers dropping seconds off of their times on the way to a dominant victory.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Nolan Hoover, of Hazen High School, swims his way to victory, in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.85 seconds.

Leading the pack was junior Malcolm Mitchell, who earned two state-qualifying times, capturing the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 49.36 seconds and the 500 freestyle in 4:59.32

“I was pretty happy with it,” he said. “It hurt, but it was worth it, so I was happy.”

Mitchell’s performance thrust him into an elite class with some of the best swimmers Hazen has ever seen, Wertman said.

“What he did today, really, was put himself in the all-time top 20 for Hazen swimmers as a junior,” he said. “So, when you think of a storied history from 1968 and you look at the records there, it’s pretty amazing. There are some Olympic-caliber swimmers there.”

He wasn’t surprised by Mitchell’s achievements, though.

“I was very pleased, but not surprised, because he’s committed himself to being his best,” he said.

Kyle Nelson and Nolan Hoover also had a big day for the Highlanders, each emerging from the meet as double winners.

Nelson captured the 200 individual medley in 2:19.08 and the 100 butterfly in 59.85; Hoover took the 50 freestyle in 24.3 and the 100 backstroke in 58.85.

Hazen also won each relay event, a necessary achievement if the team wants to be considered among the top in the state, Wertman said.

“We want to be a top 10 team at state, and it happens with strong individuals but great relays,” he said. “That relay enthusiasm, when you get a foursome clicking as one, acting as one, it’s the most inspiring thing we have.”

The team of Turner Englehart, Chris Foth, Nelson and Mitchell won the 200 medley relay in 1:47.22; PJ Warmenhoven, Englehart, Nelson and Hoover took the 200 freestyle relay in 1:37.11; and Connor Broughton, Mitchell, Hoover and Warmenhoven took first in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:33.11.

Last year, the Highlanders placed in the top 25 at state, but the goal this year is to get into the top 10, Mitchell said.

“We definitely want to get top 10 at state and we would like to win Seamount League and district,” he said. “The team is definitely doing a lot better this year. We have a lot more depth overall in each category of swimming and our team is definitely getting stronger.”

At last year’s end-of-the-year banquet, Wertman made it clear that the team hopes to put the top 25 finish in the rearview mirror and work toward the top 10.

“The only thing I said at the banquet, and I said it about 20 times, is, ‘Hazen’s on the move. Hazen’s on the move,’ and I want the team to embrace that,” he said.

To achieve that goal, athletes and coaches will have to be at the top of their game, Wertman said.

“As coaches, we want to be teaching the things that allow kids to succeed at their highest level,” he said. “And if you are doing that right, you are going to be a top 10 team at state.”



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