Janesville Craig's Loftus concentrates on state title
With a repeat trip to the state meet in two events hanging in the balance, Loftus, a Janesville Craig High School senior, missed two precious days of practice.
“I missed (Wednesday, Thursday), and I practiced a little bit Friday night,” Loftus said. “I felt all right, but I didn’t feel as top-notch as I should going into one of the most important meets of the season.’’
Loftus didn’t feel right but his results at Middleton were a picture of perfect health. He earned an automatic state berth in the 100 breaststroke and became an extra state qualifier in the 200 individual medley, setting school records in both events.
Loftus won the breaststroke in 59.23 seconds, breaking Jai Khanna’s 25-year-old school record of 1:00.06, which was Craig’s oldest boys swim record.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Loftus said. “I just wanted to qualify and not have to worry about anything, but to bust off a time like that, I was super, super stoked.’’
Loftus said he was aware Khanna’s mark had been on the Craig record board for a long time.
“It had been a goal of mine (to break Khanna’s record) since I walked into (Craig’s) pool area,” Loftus said. “To finally get that pressure off—get that chip off your shoulder—it was a good feeling.’’
Loftus also broke his own record in the individual medley with a 1:58.33, but Madison Memorial’s Peter Franken touched him out in 1:58.29 to deny Loftus his second automatic berth.
Loftus has the fourth-fastest state breaststroke time this year’s sectional competition. Ryan Korslin of Wisconsin Rapids posted the fastest time at 57.19. In the individual medley, Loftus has the has the eighth-best time, while Alex DeLakis of Greenfield/Glendale posted the top sectional time of 1:55.35.
“I’m basically going to go out there and race in my own lane and try and just get a personal best,” Loftus said. “That’s all you can really do at the end of the day.’’
Loftus said whatever happens Saturday will only be icing on his swimming career cake.
“The whole season just ended the way I wanted it to,” said Loftus, who plans to swim for UW-Stevens Point. “Honestly, things Saturday couldn’t get much better.’’
While Loftus puts his hopes on the line in the two individual events, he also swims in two relays.
Loftus joins sophomores Troy Thornton and Nick Krueger and senior Tyler Meinders in the 200 medley relay and Meinders, sophomore Tad Martin, and senior Jacob Canik in the 400 medley relay. Both Craig relays are extra qualifiers.
“It’s a good mix of swimmers,” Craig coach Brian Kitzman said. “We have sophomores and the experience of seniors.”
Craig and Janesville Parker swim in the first heat of the medley relay. Parker is as an extra qualifier. Junior Brandon Jackson, senior Nate Sigmund, sophomore Tommy Dvorak and senior Matt Simon combined to post a school-record 1:43.06 at Middleton.
Parker coach Eric Rhodes said the foursome is pushing for better results.
“They got the school record by .01 seconds,” Rhodes said. “They are happy, but they want to really beat it.”
Rhodes said Parker’s approach has changed.
“We’re going for all the marbles. Let’ss see if we can get 1:40,” Rhodes said. “You just never know. Some teams are just happy to be there, and they think ‘we made, and let’s have fun.’ That’s the kind of approach I had.
“But now we’ve made it, and let’s see how much we can improve,” Rhodes said. “Let’s focus how much we can break our own school record.’’
Area swimmers in the Division 1 meet include seniors Max Simon and Franek Kulick, of the Badger co-op team.
Simon is an extra qualifier in the 200 individual medley (2:03.16) and the 100 breaststroke (1:01.79). Kulick is an extra qualifier in the 50 freestyle (22.48).
Kulick, senior Ryan Cook, Simon and junior Joseph Shane made it to state as extra qualifiers in the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.21).
In the WIAA Division 2 state meet on Friday, Elkhorn is represent by four swimmers in three events and 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
Eric Bain, a senior, is an extra qualifier in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.68). Sophomore Luke Gorst (1:53.02) and Sam Johnson (1:52.57) are extra qualifiers in the 200 freestyle. Johnson is an extra qualifier in the 100 freestyle (51:01) along with senior Zac Simon (50:27).
Simon, Gorst, Johnson and Sean Collins compose both the 200 freestyle relay (1:31.98), and the 400 freestyle relay (3:24.67).
Milton senior Brendan Falk is an extra qualifier in the 50 freestyle (23:07) and teammate Brandon Benson is an extra qualifier in the 100 butterfly (55.30). Milton has extra qualifiers in the 200 medley (1:44.15) and 200 freestyle (1:33.29) relays. Members of both relays include, Jack Lunaas, John Toberman, Jason Toberman, Benson and Falk.
For Fort Atkinson, Evan Hill is a sectional champion in the 50 freestyle (21.94) and an extra qualifier in the 100 butterfly (53.08). Avery Kan is an extra qualifier in the 200 individual medley (2:06.18) and sophomore Lee Holman is an qualified in the 100 backstroke (56.57) for Fort.
Fort Atkinson qualified teams in the 200 medley relay (Mitch Arnold, sr.; Kan, Tyler Zaspel, fr.; Hollman), 1:44.28. 200 freestyle relay (Zaspel, Paul Hill, soph; Kan, Evan Hill), 1:31.08. 400 freestyle relay (Zaspel; Arnold, Paul Hill, Hollman), 3:24.06.