Panthers looking to peak at sectional meet

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Panthers are determined to have a strong Division 2 boys swimming and diving sectional this weekend.

The diving portion of the sectional meet will be held Friday at Neenah High School at 5:30 p.m. PHS will host the swimming competition Saturday at 2 p.m.

“Our goals for the sectional meet are the same they are for every meet: perform your best and support your teammates,” said Panther head coach Clare Sedlacek.

“While we performed really well at the conference meet last week, I don’t think we were prepared to lose by as much as we did. So this week has been focused more on how we can do our best.

“This week is more about preparing mentally for the meet and trying to stay sharp mentally and physically. I think we are ready for a great meet.”

PHS finished second to Chilton/Brillion/Valders in Saturday’s Eastern Wisconsin Conference Meet by 32 points. Sedlacek gives C/B/V the favorite’s nod to win the sectional and thinks her squad has a good chance at taking second.

The winners of each sectional event automatically qualify for next week’s state meet along with the top- 12 performers from all sectionals (not including sectional winners).

Having home-pool advantage should help the Panthers, according to Sedlacek.

“Having sectionals at PHS is great for us. Our guys get to practice in the lanes they’ll be swimming on Saturday and they know the blocks and walls really well,” said the coach.

“We have had great fan support all season, our parents do a great job supporting the guys and it’s great to be able to have a chance to swim one more time in front of our home crowd at our home pool.”

Sedlacek pointed out the events in which she feels PHS has the best shot at advancing to state.

“Our divers Evan Klemme and Corby Gafney really had a nice performances last weekend [in the EWC Meet] and hope to continue the tradition of PHS sending multiple divers to the state meet,” she said.

“While we are only the third seed for the 200 medley relay, I don’t think the guys have put together a complete race yet. We have a good chance to win this event if we have clean exchanges.

“The 200 freestyle is wide open to whoever has the most aggressive swim. Riley Friedrichs [from C/B/V], who won the event last week at conference, has chosen to swim the 50 and 100 free, and we have the first and third seed in Lucas Collard and Zach Gambrell [respectively],” the coach pointed out.

“Our 200 and 400 free relays are ranked eighth and 11th in the state [in D-2], respectively, and looking like really strong contenders. We have three of the same guys in both relays, with Lucas Collard, Ryan Holec and Matt Matz.

“In the 200 free relay Chaz Halderson is the second swimmer, and in the 400 free it’s Zach Gambrell. Both of these relays are performing at an extremely high level and look to be swimming for one more week and a trip to Madison.

“Chaz Halderson is ranked the highest in the state of all our swimmers with the 21st-fastest seed time in the 100 breaststroke. There are nine swimmers within a second of Chaz’s time, and so if he continues to swim aggressively he has a chance to qualify,” said Sedlacek.

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Bitter Neumann