Lincoln — How Lincoln Southwest won its second girls state team title will be remembered as the most dominant performance in the first 43 years of the championship meet.
The collection of top-shelf talent on the Silver Hawks’ roster that now owns state records in eight of the 11 swimming events has replaced nearly every one of the best who came before them.
There’s a temptation to call this group the best in state history. That title might not last long because every swimmer but one who scored for Southwest this weekend — Emma Vertin — returns next season.
You thought this year’s times were fast? They were. When asked about the prospects for 2017 less than an hour after winning the 2016 title, junior Olivia Calegan smiled and said she’s already started thinking about that.
As one of two Silver Hawks who have qualified for the June 26 through July 3 Swim Trials at the CenturyLink Center, Calegan will have her pick of the collegiate programs when recruiting season amps up. So will Dannie Dilsaver, who also has earned her participant pass for the Trials.
Only the 100-yard butterfly and the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races are state records still owned by swimmers from other schools. Dana Posthuma of Omaha Burke still has the state’s fastest time in the fly, and Jenn Kocsis from Omaha Marian still is No. 1 in those freestyle events.
Most likely the butterfly record will fall next season. Calegan was 0.04 seconds away from topping Posthuma’s 54.83.
A little more work will need to be done to replace Kocsis atop the two longest freestyle races. She was a seven-time state champion, winning the 200 free three times and the 500 free all four of her seasons (2003-2006) with the Crusaders.
Southwest sophomore Alana Palmer came within 0.18 seconds of replacing Kocsis atop the 200 free list in Friday’s prelims. Getting someone to top the former Northwestern swimmer in the 500 will be a bit more difficult.
Dilsaver became the third girl in state history — joining Kocsis and former Omaha North star Shandra Johnson — to go under 5 minutes in the 500. Dilsaver went 4:59.02 at the Heartland Conference meet earlier this month but swam the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke at state, setting records in both.
Kocsis’ record is 4:53.56, and she replaced Johnson’s 4:54.18 after it stood as the standard for nine years.
As for how low all of those other records can go remains to be seen. A ticket to the state swimming finals is always the toughest to get — only 1,100 seats are available — but it will be worth trying to get, just as much as those who were lucky enough to have witnessed what happened Saturday in person.
Service honored, missed
Former Millard South coach Rob Wennstedt was honored Saturday with a 25-year service award for his work as an official at the state meet.
Wennstedt has been a diving judge for years and more recently has been assisting NSAA officials in a much larger role.
But this year wasn’t quite as much fun for Wennstedt because one of his best friends wasn’t there to help him.
Former Papillion-La Vista/Papillion-La Vista South coach Lynn Weaver had to miss the meet as he recovered from heart surgery. Wennstedt said everything went fine but it was just a bit too early for Weaver to return to action.
“A part of me isn’t here this weekend,” Wennstedt said. “It’s not as easy or as much fun without him here.”
Wennstedt is looking forward to having Weaver back on deck next season in what will be Wennstedt’s 50th state meet either as an athlete, coach or official.
One of Weaver’s duties in recent years has been gathering votes and awarding the plaques shortly after the competition to the outstanding swimmers and coaches of the meet.
Elkhorn/Elkhorn South assistant Jay Thiltgen filled in for Weaver this year. Thiltgen said Matthew Novinski of Grand Island was named the boys swimmer of the meet and Calegan the girls swimmer of the meet.
The coaches of the two state champions are Omaha Creighton Prep’s Tom Beck and Lincoln Southwest’s Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt.
Contact the writer: