Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Homestead 's Zachary Zishka, shown during a practice this month at Summit Middle School, has his eyes on finishing in the top eight at this year's state finals.
Friday, February 08, 2019 1:00 am
Boys swimming sectionals
Spartans in good place
Finding balance for individual, team success
VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette
If you go
What: South Side Sectional
Where: Helen P. Brown Natatorium
When: 6 p.m. Thursday (swimming preliminaries); 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16 (diving and swimming consolations and finals)
Tickets: $6 for one session, $10 for both
Note: Angola, DeKalb, East Noble and Wawasee will compete in the Northridge Sectional, with the same schedule as the South Side Sectional. Adams Central, Bellmont, Bluffton, Norwell and South Adams will compete at the Jay County Sectional.
With a week to go until the boys sectional swim meet, the Homestead training program is all over the map.
Zachary Zishka, who swims the 200 and 500 freestyle, is focusing on pacing and distance work. Sprinters such as Cameron Luarde are doing lots of resistance training. Swimmers such as Noah Sackett, who aren't necessarily expected to qualify for the state meet but could pull in crucial points for their team at sectionals, are already starting to taper off their training.
“It's always tricky, where the different boys need to be for sectionals,” Homestead swim coach Justin Max said. “Some of them need to be all the way rested at peak performance, trying to do the best they can. Some of them are, every year, trying to keep more and more in the tank for the state meet the week after. But for now, a week and a half out, I like what we see. We seem to be in good spirits and fired up, and that's one of the most important things right now.”
The Spartans – who, at the moment, all sport the same bleach-blond hair as part of a team-bonding tradition – have long been the dominant power in local swimming, winning 22 sectional titles since the 1994-95 season, including the last three. But winning a fourth straight will be tougher than in past seasons.
“We lost, I think it was six seniors last year who were on our sectional roster, and we gained two freshmen this year who are on our sectional roster, compared to Carroll, who lost one senior and gained like five,” Zishka said. “It's definitely going to be closer than it has been.”
Despite the seemingly diminished outlook, Zishka said he's been encouraged by the way younger swimmers have filled in some of the spots left open. Max said that Luarde, a sophomore, and Spencer Koehrn have epitomized that “next-man-up” mentality for the Spartans.
“Cam had some success last year, qualifying for the state meet, but what he's done since then, even over the summer in the club season and into this Homestead season, he's a totally different athlete,” Max said. “Spencer Koehrn would be another one, he's a sophomore, too, and has really stepped up through the regular season this year and has been another one who has been a big contributor on relays already. And we think he's going to show up when it matters this year.”
The Spartans can still rely on Julian Norman, who placed in two individual events and a relay at the state meet last year, finishing as high as fourth in the 200 freestyle.
“Julian's been in the top eight in both events two years in a row now, so I'm sure anything short of that is going to be a disappointment to him,” Max said, noting that Zishka and Luarde also have their eyes on placing in the top eight at the state meet. “Get as many swimmers through to state as possible, and then get as many swims in the state finals as we can is really what the goal is always going to be around here.”