Nicolet boys swim coach Bill Shuster admits it will be quite a different look for the Knights next winter without the storied senior group of Ben Cook, Dylan Hall, Collin Siverhus and Riccardo Romersi.
The quartet has been around so long and been so successful, they all need to open safe deposit boxes at banks to hold all their state hardware.
Following the successful sixth-place finish in the WIAA Division meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium on Feb. 17, an effort that included six more top-six medals (notably another runner-up from Romersi in the 50-yard freestyle and from the senior-laden 200 free relay team), they all took time to relax and have a little fun.
The quartet has earned a total of 12 state D2 medals over the course of the last two seasons. Romersi and Siverhus have four individual medals each, and the four have conspired to win four relay medals. Over the last three seasons combined, Romersi and Siverhus have six individual medals each, while Romersi has six relay medals and Siverhus five.
Cook has a total of six state relay medals and Hall four.
"We just stopped for dinner afterwards like we always do," said Shuster. "We just talked and laughed about nothing in particular. Just relaxing stuff. I think everyone needed it."
The Knights came tantalizingly close to fulfilling all their expectations as they scored 159 points for their spot in the 30-plus team field. Monona Grove defended its title with 381.
One of the close calls the Knights had was with Romersi in the 50 free. He turned in a spectacular personal-best time of 21.14 seconds but found himself tied for second with 2016 champ Noah Larson of Baraboo, just .08 of a second behind North Shore rival Will Hobbs of Cedarburg (21.06).
It marked the third straight state meet that Romersi has taken second in the 50, each with a faster time than the previous year and each time to a different person.
"He was so close," said Shuster. "Still, it was his best time ever in high school,"
Shuster said one of the detriments for Romersi in that race, is that he was slotted next to Larson, who is going to be a football linebacker in college next year.
"Riccardo isn't the biggest guy in the world, and I think he got thrown around a little (by Larson's wake)," said Shuster.
Romersi came back and recorded a strong third place effort in the 100 free (46.92), again, just behind Hobbs and Larson.
The 200 free relay was Romersi's swan song, as he anchored the relay to a 1:28.83 runner-up time with an unofficial 50 split of 21.03. Monona Grove dominated the race with a winning 1:25.91 clocking.
The quartet opened the meet with a strong third-place effort in the 200 medley relay with a 1:37.53 clocking as Monona Grove just missed the state record with a 1:33.82 clocking. Romersi had a spectacular 50 free anchor leg of 20.49.
Both relays were season best times.
Shuster was impressed with how his swimmers were able to maintain a level of excellence despite the swiftness of the meet. Because there are only two heats in each race, it goes by very quickly.
"It really does, so I was very happy to see the seniors turn in lifetime bests again and again, even as they were exhausted," Shuster said.
Siverhus grabbed the other two top six medals. He claimed third in the 200 individual medley with a 1:57.11 clocking while Brown Deer/USM's Ben Hayes won in 1:52.43. Siverhus came back just a few races later to record a fourth in the 100 breaststroke with a 59.43 effort. Again, Hayes was the winner (57.94).
In other efforts, Cook just missed out an individual medal of his own, when he was seventh in the 100 butterfly (54.79), and Hall was 12th in the 200 IM (2:02.59) and tied for seventh in the 100 backstroke (54.93). Junior diver Max Sorin was 16th (214.9 points).
In short, it was a good final showing for the seniors.
"As a group, their biggest success was that they came in with positive attitudes day-in and day-out," said Shuster. "They knew what they were swimming, and did what they needed to do to succeed everyday."
A video slideshow of the 2017 WIAA state boys swimming and diving meet. Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial won the Division 1 meet. Christopher Kuhagen/Now Media Group