Willett returns to state meet

Kewpies and Bruins will try to advance in nine events.
Friday, February 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:04 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Hickman junior John Willett knows what he is up against at the state meet.

Willett, along with six other Kewpies and seven Rock Bridge swimmers, will travel to the Rec-Plex in St. Peters for the state swimming and diving meet today and Saturday.

Willett said he thinks he can improve on the seventh he earned at last year’s meet in the 100-yard breaststroke.

He has swam against many of the same people he will face this weekend numerous times, including last year at the state meet.

“It’s out of my control how fast the other guys swim,” Willett said. “But I’m going to be in the mix up there.”

Willett does not need to look far for advice on big meets. His brother, Peter Willett, is a standout for the Missouri swimming team.

“He’s not trying to fill the role of a coach or anything,” Willett said. “He’s just an encouragement.”

Willett will join Rock Bridge’s Greg Longo and Chuck Caldwell in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“It’s nice to have guys to train with who are in your event,” Willett said.

In addition to the breaststroke, Willett also will compete in the 200-yard individual medley. Caldwell will swim the 200-yard freestyle.

John Hamilton, coach of the Hickman and Rock Bridge teams, said he feels Caldwell and Willett both have a chance to place high in their events.

Although neither team expects to have an impact on the overall standings, Hickman and Rock Bridge have a shot to qualify for the finals Saturday in the 200-yard medley relay.

“There’s a really good chance we can make it back for the consolation meet or the finals,” Caldwell said.

Willett said Hickman’s time of 1:46.28 is near last year’s cutoff for advancing.

Rock Bridge and Hickman competitors will enter nine events this weekend, including diving.

Senior Nik Roetemeyer from Rock Bridge and junior Jon Grant from Hickman will represent their schools on the 1-meter board.

For the past two weeks, in anticipation of the season’s final meets, the teams have cut down on their workload in practice, shaved, and tried to get plenty of sleep.

“Physically all the work has been done,” Willett said. “We just hope our bodies are peaking.”

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