SPASH boys swimming qualifies for state in eight events
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) boys
swimming team will send three individuals and two relay teams to compete in
eight events at the WIAA Division 1 State Meet at the University of Wisconsin
(UW) Natatorium in Madison
Saturday, Feb. 20.
Senior Ben Harris, junior Zach Dahlseng and freshman Chad
Franz each qualified for state in two events at the WIAA Division 1 Hudson
Sectional Saturday, Feb. 13, while they also teamed up with junior Hunter
Shulfer to advance to state in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay.
“It was probably one of the best performances I’ve had out
of a team, ever,” said SPASH boys swimming head coach Bob Allen. “To get three
guys through in two events each, and then two relays in, it was really
rewarding for them, and for me.
“We’ve got a very, very small team, we’ve only had 11 guys
in the water this year, but they have turned in some really big meets, and
really big times,” he said. “I’m just very pleased and very proud of the way
The Panthers entered the Sectional at Hudson after they
claimed the Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) Title for the fifth year in a row
by going 4-0 in conference dual meets and then scoring 296 points to win the
WVC Meet over Marshfield (279) and Wisconsin Rapids (273) at UW-Stevens Point
Thursday, Feb. 4.
“It was a great season for conference, everybody really dug
deep,” said Dahlseng. “When we were a little bit light on guys, everybody
stepped up and swam great for those meets and kept us undefeated all year.”
At the Hudson Sectional Saturday, Harris finished second in
the 50 freestyle (21.83 seconds) behind top-seeded senior Calvin Hulse of
Holmen/La Crosse Aquinas/Onalaska (21.22 seconds), and then won the 100
butterfly in 52.06 seconds over junior Ben Redman of Eau Claire Memorial/North
(53.06), as he qualified in both events to advance to state for the fourth year
in a row.
“It’s great,” said Harris. “The 50 free was a really strong
swim for me.
“(The 100 butterfly) was pretty close,” he said. “I knew
(Redman) was right there, but then I just thought about, ‘this is my one shot
to get this,’ so I just dug a little deeper and finished the race hard.”
“In conference, Ben had 95 individual and relay events, and
he won 93 of those in his four-year career,” said Allen. “He’s just a
phenomenal young man, a phenomenal swimmer, a tremendous asset to the team and
a real good kid.”
Dahlseng came in second in the 200 freestyle and then set a school
record when he won the 500 freestyle in 4:52.05 to break the previous mark of
4:52.24 set by Scott Kammer in 1989, as he qualified in both events to earn his
first trip to state.
“Last year I just missed it, it was pretty hard, but this
year I more than made up for it,” said Dahlseng. “My favorite part from the
whole weekend was winning a Sectional event and setting the school record.
“It felt really, really good,” he said. “Every 50 was really
consistent, my stroke felt good and I was breathing good. I had good
competition for the beginning, and then I just pulled away, and the rest is
Franz was right behind Dahlseng in third place in the 200
freestyle and then finished second in the 100 backstroke, and had to wait until
later Saturday to find out that he qualified for state in both events.
“I didn’t know until we were in one of the restaurants after
Sectionals,” said Franz. “I wasn’t sure if I’d made it, I knew it was going to
“We were looking on the WIAA website at all of the Sectional
results, and we had to count how many people had made it,” he said. “You took
your time and then you counted how many people were faster than you, and you
were hoping you were in the Top 24.
“And when I actually knew that I’d made it, I felt really
happy,” he said.
“They tapered well, and mentally they were prepared,” said
Allen of Dahlseng and Franz. “And they just went out and swam beautifully.”
Shulfer also will be a first-time competitor at state, as he
teamed with Franz, Dahlseng and Harris to finish third in the 200 freestyle
“Last year, I was taken as an alternate, and it’s really
great to be there with the guys,” said Shulfer. “We’ve worked hard all year,
we’ve had a great season and I’m really glad to be joining them at state.”
In the final event of the Sectional, Dahlseng, Shulfer,
Franz and Harris combined to finish second in 400 freestyle relay, as their
state-qualifying time of 3:18.18 was just off the SPASH school record of
3:18.07 that was set in 2014 by Tom Negaard, Ryan Neigbauer, Willey Rosenthal
“We’ve all worked really hard this season,” said Franz. “My
teammates have been swimming fast all year, putting it all out on the line for
Meanwhile, the Panthers totaled 276 points to finish third
at the Sectional behind Eau Claire Memorial/North (403.5) and Hudson (346.5).
Going into this weekend, Harris is seeded sixth in the 100
butterfly and sixth in the 50 freestyle, after he finished 10th in the 100
butterfly and 12th in the 50 freestyle at state last year.
“He’s been down to state all four years, and he’s tried
every year to get up on the podium,” said Allen. “If he can take a sixth or
better in either one of those events, he’s made his goal.
“And I hope he does,” he said.
“This is the best way to end it,” said Harris. “Bob’s a
great coach, and this year especially, we’ve had a really tight group of guys,
and this year’s probably been the most fun for me.”
Allen said his swimmers have earned their spot at state and
he wants them to have fun, and if they have some great swims in the process,
that’s all the better.
“The hard work has all been these 13 weeks, getting to the
14th week, which is state,” said Allen. “And they’re there now, so they’re able
to stand back and look up when they open those bleachers up (at the UW
“The bleachers go to the sky, and it’s a pretty impressive
sight for the kids down below to look up and see all of those people up there,
3,000 or so, watching them swim,” he said.
Overall, Allen said it’s been a fun season, and that the
small team has done great things with small numbers.
“It was a great season,” said Shulfer. “We had the lowest
amount of swimmers in my whole high school career, and we pulled together and
we came back and won the Conference Meet with 11 swimmers.
“It’s the effort that we get out of some of the other guys
that you don’t see in the paper and you don’t see in the news, the ones that
score two, three, four points in a meet and they go unnoticed, but they just do
a great job,” he said. “They’re some of the hardest workers on the team, and
it’s great to have them.”
“I just put the workout on the board and they follow it,”
said Allen. “They know what I expect of them and they do their best to give it
“They’re in the water at in the morning until 7, and then they’re back at in the evening, for the past 13
weeks,” he said. “They work hard and they have fun doing that, and then they
reap the rewards for the hard work.”