March 12, 2004 at 9:11 a.m.
Last Saturday at the state class “A” swimming and diving meet, Brian Willhite, Jeremy Salokar, and Adam Sill each grabbed medals in diving and senior Wayne Schafer capped off his high school career with two medals in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. Schafer and Willhite each grabbed silver medals after taking second in the butterfly and diving respectively. That’s second in the state!
The madness started last Thursday as the divers opened up competition with their preliminary dives. Right out of the chute, Willhite jumped in front, scoring 274 points through his first eight dives, placing him second heading into the finals. Right behind him, Sill racked up 223 points and Salokar 218.40, putting them sixth and ninth respectively with three dives left.
“We were feeling pretty good after diving because it basically guaranteed that we would be going home with a couple of medals and that was our goal,” said Sauerbry, Chisago Lakes head swimming coach.
With Willhite, Sill, and Salokar in perfect position for the finals, last Friday, Schafer followed suit, saving his best for the swimming prelims. Starting with the 50 freestyle, the senior coasted through the pool with a time of 22.58, setting a new personal best by half-a-second. The swim put him fifth overall going into Saturday’s “A” final (only the top eight make “A” final).
As impressive as that swim was, it didn’t even hold a candle to what Schafer did later in the day in the 100 butterfly, swimming the fly in a shade over 52 seconds, a full second and a half better than anyone else in the event, making him the odds on favorite to win the gold. Spring Lake Park’s Omar Sarwat came in fourth.
“No, I really didn’t expect him to swim that fast,” replied Sauerbry, referring to Schafer’s prelim time in the butterfly. “We had already swam against Omar (Sarwat) during the season and at that time, he was four seconds ahead of him, so I was looking at second. I knew he was going to be fast but I didn’t think he could go that fast.”
He was far from finished. Actually, they all were.
With the preliminaries in the books, the finals were set for last Saturday. Up first was Schafer in the 50 freestyle. Seeded fifth, Schafer equalled his prelim performance by swimming the race with a time of 22.58, finishing eighth overall, earning him his first medal of the day (top eight medal). More was on the way.
The very next event, it was the divers turn to pick up some medals of their own. Running second with three dives left, Willhite battled R. J. Rappe of Farmington for the top spot before missing his final dive, dropping him back to second place overall. That’s where the junior would finish as Rappe pulled away, taking the gold and giving Willhite the silver. Willhite took third last year.
“I was happy, it was the best I could do for that day,” said Brian Willhite. “Rappe dove the best meet of his life from what I heard. I was just set on doing my best. Taking first would’ve been a plus.”
Salokar and Sill also made some noise. For Salokar, the junior nailed his last three dives, moving him to sixth overall while Sill placed eighth, meaning that all three Chisago Lakes divers stood on the medal stand at the end of the event to receive a medal.
“That was our goal, right from day one, to get all three of them to state and have all three of them medal,” said Lisa Willhite, Chisago Lakes head diving coach. “We’re just so proud of them. Brian (Willhite) dove very consistent all the way through, I knew he would be up there. Jeremy had a tough time in the prelims. He wasn’t sitting where he wanted to be but we knew that they all had their best three dives last. He just nailed them and was very happy. Adam dove right where he wanted to dive. He missed his last dive but overall he was solid. They all were.”
Four medals, one to go.
With an eighth place medal already attached to his jacket, Schafer stepped back into the pool for the 100 butterfly to finish the day. Seeded first, the senior was 18-tenths-of-a-second from finishing first. Schafer went head to head with the number four seed, Omar Sarwat the entire way. As the swimmers made their final turn, both were even. In the end, Sarwat’s arm was less than a second longer, edging out Schafer at the wall, putting him second. Schafer’s time was 52.38, the second fastest time of his career. Medal number five.
“All I wanted to do this year was medal. I did that and then some,” commented Schafer, who did not medal at last year’s state meet. “I swam a good time and I did my best. I’m happy with second.”
“I knew he was feeling good going into the fly,” mentioned Sauerbry. “His goggles filled up with water immediately so he basically swam the meet blind. It was a great race, I just can’t believe he swam that fast.”
He did, putting a final exclamation point on an amazing meet. Check that, an amazing season. With just four athletes competing, they earned enough points to put the Wildcats 14th overall as a team.
“We were all very pleased, it’s been such a fun season,” smiled Sauerbry. “We’re going to be losing a great senior class, a very diverse group. Sam (Tosteson) was kind of the fan favorite, Greg (Stignani) was more serious, and then Wayne (Schafer) was kind of the cheerleader, the motivator in and out of the pool. Those three just covered all of the roles you need. Next year’s captains will have their work cut out for them if they want to fill their shoes. It’s just been a fun ride and what a great way to end it.”
Five medals in one day....Yah, that’s not too shabby.
State class “A” Swimming
and Diving meet
1. Sauk Rapids-Rice 237
2. Hutchinson 233
3. St. Thomas Acad. 207
4. Breck/Blake 187
5. Albert Lea 175
14. Chisago Lakes 69
Individual Results (CL only):
Finals- (Top 8 medal)
8. Wayne Schafer 22.71
2. Brian Willhite 385.50
6. Jeremy Salokar 340.80
8. Adam Sill 318.05
2. Wayne Schafer 52.38