Ending off a peculiar season

Wildcat swimmers finish their season at State


Photo by Jeff Wilber

Freshman Quinten Nelson swims in the 200 Freestyle Relay. The relay placed in 6th at the State Championship. “We asked a lot of him this season,” head coach Jamie Bowcott said. “Swimming a very important relay in his freshman year, with the whole team expecting a lot from you is a lot of pressure, but he delivered.”

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Sports Director

After four grueling months of hard work and dedication, the 2020-2021 varsity swim team headed to the NSAA State Swimming Championships at Bob Devaney Sports Complex in Lincoln, Neb., on February 25-27. With many questions surrounding the big meet all season due to COVID-19, even being able to participate in the event  was something to be proud of.

The Wildcats came in after a strong performance at the Metro Conference meet with the boys who placed in 7th place and the girls placed in 9th place. The team had something to prove after the boys’ 5th place finish and girls’ 6th place finish last year with many seniors graduating.  

“The thing I am most proud of this season was that everybody stayed healthy,” head coach Jamie Bowcott said. “Not only did we want everyone healthy so we could have a season, but mainly so none of our athletes would have to go through that in the midst of their season. It could’ve been a lot worse and I’m grateful for the outcome we had.” 

The meet started on Thursday, with the divers putting up strong numbers for Millard West’s first points of the big meet. Junior Lainey Woodward placed in 4th with a score of 497.90. Sophomore Ellie Fulcher finished in 11th place with a score of 342.35 and freshman Kindin Parry finished in 22nd with a score of 137.80. This gave the girls team 21 points on the first day. Only one diver competed for the boys, junior Jack Byers, who placed 16th, with a score of 310.35 and gave the boys team one point to start off the meet.

The girls started off the swimming portion of the tournament the next morning at prelims. This non-scored portion of the meet is to narrow down the competition into the Top 16 in every event to compete for points on Saturday. This girls team did not start off on the right foot with an early disqualification in the 200 Medley Relay for a false start. Senior Isabelle Berlin started off the individual events with a season best in the 200 Freestyle with a time of 2:00.39, she would place in 19th, just missing the cutoff for coming back for finals. Senior Mia Olson then competed in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle, placing in 32nd in both events. 

The 200 Freestyle Relay followed the same trend as the previous relay with a controversial disqualification against the Wildcats for a false start, after being challenged by Bowcott, officials did not reverse the call and the relay remained disqualified. Following the relay, Berlin swam the 100 Backstroke and placed in 12th with a time of 1:00.28.The girls ended the day with a 17th place finish in the 400 Freestyle Relay, with a season best time of 3:51.24. 

“Obviously the disqualifications weren’t what we wanted but we made sure it didn’t affect our future swims,” Berlin said. “It being my senior year I wanted to go out with my best races and I feel like I did that to the best of my ability.”

The boys team started their Friday afternoon with the 200 Medley Relay, and just barely missed the top 16 by just 0.33 seconds. In the 200 Freestyle, senior Andrew Kenny went a season best to punch his ticket for finals with an 11th place finish with a time of 1:47.36. Nebraska Wesleyan commit senior Tanner Klahn missed finals by taking 20th place in the 200 IM, going a season best 2:05.74. Klahn did qualify for finals in the 100 Butterfly, placing 14th with a season best time of 53.88. His fellow Wesleyan commit senior Dylan Fucik made it back to the state finals in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle, with season bests in both events. Kenny continued to swim well in the 500 Freestyle, but missed the top 16 with a time of 5:05.22. The only event in which the Wildcats made it into  the top eight was in the boys 200 Freestyle Relay, where they placed  8th with another season best time of 1:30.07. The final event was the 400 Freestyle Relay where the boys placed in 9th, just barely missing the top eight by 0.37 seconds.

“Since it was my last swim meet in my high school career I had a lot of nerves about making it back for finals,” Fucik said. “Our state team was very young this year, we only had three guys who had come back from last year and they all stepped up in a big way.”

Saturday was the day every swimmer in Nebraska has been preparing for all season: State finals. This group of talented swimmers was ready to show up and show out and compete with the best of the best in the state. Only one Millard West girl competed in finals, Berlin, who swam the consolation final in the 100 Backstroke and placed 13th to end off her high school career. 

“It was great to see the kids swim and have all their hard work pay off,” Bowcott said. “Seeing the seniors, which is the first class I’ve had all four years as head coach, seeing them swim their last races as Millard West swimmers was very emotional.”

Kenny began the day for the boys in the 200 Freestyle, improving his time even more from before, finishing in 11th. Fucik finished 15th and 16th in the 50 and 100 Freestyle. Klahn also made it back for the 100 Butterfly, in his first ever finals appearance in his highschool swimming career, he placed in 16th. After being seeded in 8th place, the 200 Freestyle Relay climbed two spots and finished in 6th place, earning Millard West’s first and only medals of the meet. To end it off, the 400 Freestyle Relay finished in 9th. 

The meet ended with an Omaha Marian victory by a very healthy margin, this is the programs 15th State title . Millard West placed 19th. The boys meet ended with Lincoln Southwest snapping Creighton Prep’s 15 year State Championship streak, and the Wildcats placing in 15th.