In the end, there was a little more competition, a slight bit more drama for Whitefish Bay diver Joe Kaszubowski, as he won his fourth straight Division 2 state championship at the UW-Madison Natatotorium in Madison Feb. 20.
Nicolet's Jeremy Moser and Monona Grove's Henry Carman made fine nuisances of themselves while Kaszubowski admittedly didn't feel he had his complete 'A' game going.
'The warm-ups didn't go as well as I would have liked,' he said. 'For some reason, I just wasn't feeling it.
'But after I found I wasn't winning (after six of 11 dives), I had a lot more adrenaline going.'
And then matters reverted back to form with merely spectacular 2-1/2 gainer and inward 2-1/2 dives, he separated himself and pulled away for the win with a score of 569.6, well ahead of Carman, who was second with 530.05 while Moser was third with 506.4.
All three scores would well exceed the winning mark of the Division 1 competition a day later.
It wasn't the state record 582-plus point total that he was hoping for to break Ryan Jefferson of Edgewood's nine-year old mark, but it was enough to match both Jefferson, the great sprinter Kyle Bubolz of Waukesha North and Alex DeLakis of Eau Claire in the record books as the only state swim competitors to win an event four times.
'It was funny, because I actually found myself nervous,' said Kaszubowski, 'and afterward, I found myself both happy and disappointed. Disappointed that I didn't get the record, but happy that I could win it all four years.'
He said he even felt bad for Moser as Nicolet made the move from Division 1 to Division 2 this year and Moser would have won the Division 1 competition easily this season.
'That balanced attitude and even keel is one of the things that has helped make him a success,' said Bay coach Jim Davis. 'He may be a little disappointed about the record, but he doesn't show it and he just goes about his business very professionally.'
How much so?
Davis said he was talking to one diving referee who wasn't working the meet but who was watching it closely, and this official noticed that on one dive Kaszubowski came very close to failing it as on take-off, three-quarters of his foot was off the board.
'But to show you how good he is, he still had the strength to finish the dive,' said Davis. 'This is all a very great honor. He proved he's a champion and that he is the best.'
His title led the Blue Dukes to a competitive 10th-place showing in the 30-plus team state field with 93 points as Monona Grove won with 309.
Kaszubowski got help from senior sectional backstroke champion Noah Oldson, who earned a fifth-place state medal in his specialty with a personal best 54.84-second clocking after turning in an impressive two-plus second best in the 200 individual medley, which was good for a sixth-place medal in 2:00.62.
'Noah came out so strong in his races today,' said Davis. 'He really gave us a jump-start.'
That effort got formally under way when the 200 medley relay team of Oldson, Joey McMahon, Sam Raber and Wilson Tarpey turned in another season best by a smidge (0.13 seconds) with an 11th-place effort of 1:43.32.
Davis has been so impressed with the medley, because he doesn't have a lot of true event performers to pack it with.
Raber had a bit of a flat 200 free, taking 10th in 1:49.14, a half-second slower than his sectional time, but then he came back to record a three-plus second personal best in the 500 free to earn a sixth-place medal in 4:56.05. He had been seeded eighth.
The 400 free relay closed out the meet on a positive note for Bay, as Joey and Mike McMahon, Oldson and Raber combined for a second-plus season best of 3:24.45, which was good for 10th.
'We were really happy with our finish,' said Davis. 'We knew what we had all year and we really exceeded our expectations. We had a good opportunity and we took advantage of it.'
As noted, everyone was happy with the effort as the Blue Dukes made their usual celebratory post-state meet run to an area Pizza Hut. Seniors like Oldson, Joey McMahon and Kaszubowski took one last long look around at things and enjoyed themselves.
Now Davis and the rest of the Bay coaching staff has to get used to something else: not getting that kick-start to the meet like they've been used to from diving. Kaszubowski has committed to the Naval Academy, where he will dive and try to play a little baseball, too.
No major post-prep meets are on the immediate horizon for him so he will continue to train hard. He'll call the Navy coach soon to get some preliminary information. As far as training goes, he's been advised to do a lot of running.
He said he'll get a large packet from the academy two months before he leaves in mid-summer, explaining all the other prerequisites and then he'll move on with his life as he prepares to become a midshipman.
'Then I'll take life as it is and see where it takes me,' Kaszubowski said.