After another successful sectional effort on Feb. 11 in which the Blue Dukes qualified five individuals and two relays for the WIAA D2 state meet in Madison on Friday, Feb. 17, veteran Whitefish Bay boys swimming coach Jim Davis happily turned to an old tradition to fire up his troops.
He brought them over to his house the next day (Feb. 12), plugged in an old videotape and showed them the storied 1998 D2 state meet in which Blue Duke legend Peter Clark and the Blue Dukes held off a fierce challenge from Brookfield East to record a championship.
And just to make sure the kids were getting the point, he threw in a short tape of the old "Wide World of Sports" introduction featuring the fabled "Thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" montage.
"We have pizza and a lot of laughs," Davis said. "It's a good wrap-up for the sectional."
It's also a good send-off for the state meet, as the Blue Dukes will send senior Mike McMahon in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles; senior Wilson Tarpey in the 50 and 100 freestyles; sophomore Henry Fetzer in the 100 butterfly; and the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
In 35 years of coaching overall and 28 years at Bay, Davis never gets tired of seeing a taper work and watching kids drop big amounts of time, which happened a lot in the WIAA sectional meet they hosted Feb. 11.
"It worked," he said. "We had a lot of first-time guys out there (at the meet), guys who didn't have experience in a meet like this at all. And we got a bunch of them through, and we were in the hunt for second place (as a team) right until the end, which was amazing because going in, we were just looking at top six."
McMahon and Tarpey were the primary experienced hands Davis relied on this winter, and he's happy they're being rewarded with a shot at some top-six state medals.
"It was just very gratifying for those two guys," Davis said. "It's just outstanding what we were able to qualify. We couldn't be any happier because the kids were just so competitive."
The qualifying efforts led the Blue Dukes to a 289-point total in the sectional, as Nicolet won with 337 and Elkhorn was second with 295.
Bay earned two firsts in the meet, as McMahon took the 200 free with a best time of 1:47.77 and then anchored the 400 free relay team of senior Phil Flejsierowicz, Adam Stollenwerk, and Tarpey to a 10-second season best of 3:23.07 — good for a victory by over two seconds.
McMahon earned his other individual spot with a second in the 500 free (12-second drop of 4:59.9) and brought the 200 free relay team of Flejsierowicz, Jack Gonzales and Tarpey in for a second-place finish with a 3.5-second season best of 1:32.26.
Tarpey dropped over a full second (22.16) in earning second in the 50 free and took over 2.6 seconds off his 100 free time (49.57) in earning another runner-up spot.
"For him to make it like he did was just amazing," said Davis of Tarpey. Fetzer earned the 16th and final qualifying spot in the butterfly when he took third in the sectional with a 56.56 clocking.
Bay had many other best times at the meet. including a three-second season best of 1:49.68 turned in by the 200 medley relay team of Stollenwerk, Chris Hastings, Fetzer and Flejsierowicz, good for fourth.
Other steep drops came from Carl Youel in the 200 and 500 free; Stollenwerk in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke; Flejsierowicz in the 50 free; Matt Swietlik in the 50 and 500 free; Corwin Fetzer in the 100 fly; Javier Martinez-Ortiz in the 100 free; and Alex Nehr in the 100 breaststroke.
"The kids had a great week; they were really focused on their training," Davis said. "Now the pressure is off. The kids have worked all year long. Now we'll see if we can come home with a couple of medals."