State meet special for Panthers

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


MIGUEL REYNOSO GONZALEZ of Plymouth applauds his fellow medal-winners after placing third in the 100-yard freestyle at Friday’s D-2 state swimming and diving meet. — Photo by Pam Ahrens MIGUEL REYNOSO GONZALEZ of Plymouth applauds his fellow medal-winners after placing third in the 100-yard freestyle at Friday’s D-2 state swimming and diving meet. — Photo by Pam Ahrens PLYMOUTH — Friday’s Division 2 boys swimming and diving meet was special for the Plymouth Panthers for several reasons.

The team capped off a successful season by capturing two medals and posting several fine performances en route to a strong ninth-place finish. Seniors Cormick Hnilicka and Mitch Tournour climaxed their outstanding careers at PHS by being a part of the 400-yard freestyle relay – the final event of the state meet – which earned a fifth-place medal.

Also on the relay team were senior Miguel Reynoso Gonzalez and junior Matt Matz. Gonzalez, who joined the Panther squad this past season as an AFS student from the Dominican Republic, won a third-place medal in the 100 freestyle to wrap up a stellar season.

“It’s so rewarding to finish the season with these guys [all of the PHS state competitors] in such a great way,” said Panther head coach Clare Sedlacek.

“To have Mitch and Cormick finish not only their season but their career on the medal stand at state is one of the best memories I will take from this season.

“We have been so privileged to have some of the best swimmers at PHS during 
MATT MATZ, Plymouth junior, swims in the 400-yard freestyle relay at Friday’s D-2 state meet. The relay earned a fifth-place medal. — Photo by Pam Ahrens MATT MATZ, Plymouth junior, swims in the 400-yard freestyle relay at Friday’s D-2 state meet. The relay earned a fifth-place medal. — Photo by Pam Ahrens my eight years of coaching this team but I would be hard-pressed to find a better way to end a season than having a relay team in the last heat of the last event.

“Then, to have them come through with a medal-winning performance, I really couldn’t be happier for them and all they have accomplished. This is truly a special group of guys,” said Sedlacek.

Also competing at state for PHS were sophomore divers Evan Klemme and Michael Bolland who were making their first appearances in the meet and gained valuable experience for next season.

Gonzalez was pleased with his performance in the 100 freestyle in which he swam a personal-best 48.51 seconds.

“I’m happy to get third. I improved on my qualifying place of fifth [seeding going into state],” said Gonzalez.

“I was so excited. My family was able to watch me [on the internet] and it was a pretty emotional thing for me.

“I did better than I thought I would [in the 100 freestyle].

“I’m really proud of the 400 relay – all of them. We did pretty well,” said Gonzalez who placed seventh in the 200 freestyle.

“In the 100, I was in lane two and I couldn’t see the top swimmers because they were in the middle lanes, so I just swam as fast as I could and didn’t worry about it.

My turns were really good and I had a good start too.”

Gonzalez, Tournour, Hnilicka and Matz also swam in the 200 freestyle relay which finished seventh in a season-best 1 minute, 30.78 seconds.

“It was like special, especially for me and Mitch since we’ve been swimming together for four years,” said Hnilicka about the 400 relay winning a medal.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to go out – accomplishing it together [with the other relay members].

“I’m proud of everyone in the relays. Our focus this season in the 400 relay was the yards and to build the endurance. We really wanted this [state medal],” said Hnilicka.

Hnilicka also competed in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly which were the Panthers’ other two state events. He took ninth in the butterfly and 10th in the 50. This was the first season that Hnilicka competed in the 100 butterfly.

“I was pleased with all four of my races. I had personal records in both relays which was a great way to finish my career,” Hnilicka said.

“I thought the team did super well at state. We were very pleased with ninth place. The divers held very well and will be more prepared next year.

“We did really well this season. Our team was a pretty well-knit family,” Hnilicka said.

“I have a lot of fond memories [of swimming at PHS]. It’s definitely a huge part of who I am. All of my hard work paid off. My parents [Joseph and Sheila Hnilicka] have been very supportive.

“It really meant a lot to medal with Mitch. We’ve been best friends since kindergarten. We’ve always been there for each other,” said Hnilicka.

“I had a pretty good time [being on the team],” said Gonzalez. “I made a lot of friends. We did pretty well all season. I will miss swimming here a lot.”

Gonzalez plans to swim on his country’s national team in an international meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., March 21-24.

“I loved all the support from the Plymouth community from these guys’ families and friends {at state],” said Sedlacek..

“It was so awesome to look up in the stands and see so much orange. Lots of students came down to Madison and made their presence known. It was also great to have some of the guys who I hope will be on deck for next year’s state meet there to observe.

“We will have a lot of work to do to get back there next year. These three seniors [Tournour, Hnilicka and Gonzalez] have left some pretty big impressions on what is expected of PHS swimmers but I think our team for next year can rise to the occasion,” said the coach.


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