Four swimmers save best for last

Sunday, February 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:40 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

For some, the Last Chance Meet on Saturday at Hickman pool was the end of the season; for others, it meant a coveted place in the state meet.

The meet, which featured the Hickman, Rock Bridge and Hannibal boys’ swimming and diving teams, was the final opportunity to qualify for the state meet Friday and Saturday in St. Peters.

Two Hickman and two Rock Bridge swimmers capitalized, as did the 200-yard medley relays from both teams.

In the most emotional event, the Hickman and Rock Bridge 200-yard freestyle relays failed to make the state time of 1 minute, 36.09 seconds.

Although Rock Bridge missed by a good margin at 1:37.28, Hickman came within two one-hundredths of qualifying.

“It’s just part of it,” said John Hamilton, Hickman and Rock Bridge coach. “That’s a hard relay to qualify in.”

Rock Bridge senior Greg Longo provided more drama when his goggles fell down around his face during the 100-yard breaststroke, an event in which he expected to qualify.

“It’s not really something where you have to see where you’re going, so it’s not that big of a deal,” Longo said.

Longo won, but the touch pad malfunctioned. That forced meet officials to use the stopwatch times for Longo’s official time, which qualified him for the state meet at 1:06.09.

“I was happy the guys had the watches working,” Longo said.

Rock Bridge sophomore Kevin Shoelz had the biggest time drops of the day.

Schoelz breezed through the 500-yard freestyle in 5:05.33, beating the qualifying time by almost nine seconds. In a result that he said surprised him, Schoelz qualified in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:08.97.

“I think I’ve been able to do the stuff the whole season,” Schoelz said. “I just finally managed to bring it out.”

Other than the medley relay, all Hickman qualifiers took advantage of one event.

In the 100-yard backstroke, Kewpies John Willett, Derek Kriegshauser and Andrew Heath qualified for the state meet. Willett also had qualified in the 100-yard breaststroke earlier this season.

“We knew Andrew Heath and Derek Kriegshauser were real close to making it and that’s what our focus was on,” Hamilton said. “I was hoping that they’d do it and they did.”

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