February 27, 2014

My Championship Experience – 2014 Men’s Swimming and Diving Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

South Dakota State senior Wil Hogue writes about his experience at the 2014 Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships:

Day 1 – Tuesday, Feb. 18:
We started off the day with a practice at 7:30 a.m. for a quick stretch out of 2,000 yards before we got on the bus. The bus was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m., but the bus got off 45 minutes late because some people were late. For lunch we stopped at Subway. On his way out the door Weston Christensen got hit in the head with a snowball. After about six hours of driving we stopped for a bathroom break. Yann Desjardins and Dan Jacobson built a snowman to greet the weary travelers at the Waterloo, Iowa, rest stop. Dinner couldn’t come soon enough. We went to Hy-Vee’s all you can eat buffet, as usual they lost money on us.

The team arrived at the Holiday Inn and now it was time for our annual shave party. Everyone is shaving their legs and watching the Olympics getting ready for our relays tomorrow.

Day 2 – Wednesday, Feb. 19:

Neither Garth (Wadsworth) nor I could sleep last night. We kept thinking about tomorrow’s relays. We woke up at 6:10 a.m., and rolled out of bed for breakfast at 6:15 a.m.  At 7 a.m. we hit the road. When we arrived at the pool, the people that were not in a relay that night had practice, and the relay swimmers went out to lunch. The first race of the league championship is always the most nerve racking! The men’s and women’s 800 freestyle relays did exceptionally well. The women placed second and the men broke the school record! On the bus ride back to the hotel everyone was excited for tomorrow’s individual races.

Day 3 – Thursday, Feb. 20:
We woke up and had breakfast at 8 a.m. with all of our parents in the lobby, then departed for the pool for prelims of the 500 free, 200 IM and 50 free. Prelims went well. Both Ben Bolinski and Kaylin Caron both broke the 50 freestyle record in prelims. In the diving events, Connor Florand aka “CFLO” posted a school record and Summit League record in prelims of the three-meter dive. Spirits were high going into finals.

For lunch, we ate at Noodles & Co., and then went back to the hotel for a nap. When we arrived at the pool for finals, the mood was entirely different. There was a feeling of tension in the air because medals are on the line. When we rolled in you could tell our team meant business. Finals kicked off at 7 p.m. almost everyone dropped time from their seed-time in the individual events.

The men's 200 free relay was the cherry on top of an unbelievable night.  For the first time in SDSU history, a relay took the gold!  The relay team consisting of Ben Bolinski, Phil Albu, Dan Jacobson and myself was seeded third going into the race behind Western Illinois and Denver. Everyone on the relay decided to swim out of their minds. The race was neck and neck at the fourth leg, but we touched-out Western Illinois by less than 0.10 seconds. I took off my goggles and looked up to see that we had placed second and broken the school record. The place was erupting with cheers. I was still a little winded from swimming the last leg, and didn’t hear the PA say that there had been a disqualification. I only remember everyone cheering; the place fell dead silent, and then started cheering again even louder. Then Dan Jacobson turns to me and says, “AHHHH!! WE JUST WON!!’ The Denver relay was disqualified for a false start relay exchange, and we took the gold! One of my goals coming into the program was to win a first-place relay medal. I am glad to have finally achieved my goal on my favorite relay. After finals we ate Fazoli's and then went to bed. 

DAY 4 – Friday, Feb. 21:
We rose at 7:45 a.m., ate breakfast with the parents, and departed for the pool at 8 a.m. Today's events were the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast and 100 back. Prelims went well and we had swimmers place at third, fourth and sixth. Whenever you can get swimmers in A-Finals, it means that we are getting points on the board. Our men in the 200 free all dropped time from the morning session, and Garth Wadsworth posted the second-fastest 200 free time in SDSU history. Connor Florand (CFLO) won gold in one-meter dive, and achieved both a school and Summit League record.

Day 5 – Saturday, Feb. 22:
The final day of the league championship is always the hardest. After four days of sleeping in a hotel and a tough schedule, it really starts to wear on your body. The final events were the mile (1,650 free), 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breast and 200 fly. In prelims, Ben Bolinski broke another school record in the 100 free, and Emily Campbell was seeded second in the 200 breast. In the finals, Emily Campbell won the 200 breaststroke by touching out the top seed from Denver. In the women’s 200 fly, Emma Wright and Trina Young both shared the bronze medal.

As a senior, the last day was the best part of the trip. I am proud to have been part of a team that has had so much success in the last couple years. Eight years ago, it was rare for SDSU swimming and diving to win a dual meet. Now we have league champions, undefeated seasons (2012) and the drive of a Division I program. I have enjoyed my time as a Jackrabbit student-athlete and thank everyone for making our team’s success a reality. GO BIG, GO BLUE, GO JACKS!

-Wil Hogue

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 28-March 1 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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