By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield boys swim team has not won a Wisconsin Valley Conference dual meet nor finished higher than sixth at any multiteam invitational, but things are looking up for the Tigers.
Second-year coach Jason Karrels has a mostly inexperienced squad, with more than half of the team, he said, having never competitively swam.
A strong core of swimmers — including Ben Donahue, Alec Brenner, Eric Tollefson, Scott Thompson, Anthony Hartwig, and Jacob Dick — has managed to keep the Tigers in many of the team’s dual meets. Narrow losses to Wausau East (90-80) last month and D.C. Everest (93-77) on Tuesday are giving the team and Karrels hope for the rest of the season.
“We’re definitely struggling in the points category right now, but we are improving dramatically,” Karrels said. “Over half the team has never stepped in the pool (competitively) before. We saw (Tuesday) some new guys that are beating out some of our varsity guys. Nathan Albanito is going in the high 25s (seconds) right now (in the 50-yard freestyle), and he is brand new to the sport. Graham Verona, who couldn’t complete a 25 at the first meet, is now doing the 100 with no issue.
“We’re definitely improving. The team scores aren’t where I’d like them, but we’re in a tough conference. Our big thing is we have all of these meets right now, and it’s hard to keep training when we have meet after meet after meet.”
Including Thursday’s Wisconsin Valley Conference dual against Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield had four meets in 10 days.
The Tigers now have a week to recover before a meet at Stevens Point on Jan. 12, and despite the rigorous schedule and tough losses, the team is staying positive.
“We always keep the positivity,” Karrels said. “Our team is a team. I have no drama that I’ve seen. We’re going to win as a team and lose as a team. We’re putting in the effort, and as long as we do, we’ll get better. This year’s a building year for us. We’re only losing four guys this year compared to seven studs that we lost (to graduation) last year, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
With about a month until the Wisconsin Valley Conference Meet on Feb. 2 and the WIAA Division 1 sectional on Feb. 11, the Tigers have time to continue to improve and get ready for the postseason.
“Our goal is working on quick turns and building up the endurance that we need,” Karrels said. “The starts, the turns, and keeping the positive momentum. We might not win every race, we might not win every meet, we might go 0-9, but I said in the beginning of the season, ‘I want times to drop.’ Winning is important, of course, but those times have got to come down, and that’s what we’re working at.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.