He just wanted to win. It would be nice to break a minute, but all he wanted was a win. Junior Benn Schmatz did not expect the results he saw on the time board after he slammed his hands into the touch pad.
When he finished his 100-yard breast, the clock read 58.08 seconds, beating not only the Sunflower League record, but also the East school record previously set by Brian Crist at 58.37 seconds in 2008. His time earned him not only a school and league record, but also secured a place in the Junior Nationals race being held over five days during spring break in Orlando, Fla.
“I was ecstatic,” Schmatz said. “All I wanted to do was just get a best time, maybe go a 59 and break a minute. I just wanted to win, and the time was secondary for me.”
That same day, Feb. 8, the Lancer swim and dive team won the Sunflower League meet for the 11th year in a row, scoring 409 points setting the record for most points scored. East edged the previous team-points record by almost 60 points.
“We wanted to go there and we wanted to win,” senior Zack Holbrook said. “Our expectations were just to give it everything we had and it was definitely there — everybody tried their hardest.”
In addition to setting the 100-breast League record, East swimmers beat three other records — 50-yard freestyle relay, 200-freestyle relay and 400-freestyle relay.
Lancer swimmers swept first, second, third and sixth in the 50-yard free. Senior Peter Milledge was confused at first when he finished his 50-yard freestyle relay. Going into finals, Milledge was seeded second behind Holbrook, not expecting to win, but he won by .02 seconds.
“[Beating a record] feels unbelievable at first,” Milledge said. “It’s just an incredible feeling. You want to do it for your teammates and your coach, and it just inspires you to do well at the state meet. We just performed unbelievable. We swam out of our minds and it’s just an incredible feeling.”
The 200-yard free relay was composed of Milledge, Holbrook, junior Patrick Hornung and senior Cooper Johnson. Holbrook anchored the relay setting the relay with a record-breaking time of 1:26.72.
“When you’re racing in the pool you’re not thinking about ‘is my time going to be good?,’ you’re racing the people next to you,” Johnson said. “The time is kind of like icing on the cake.”
The 400-yard free relay, made up of Milledge, Hornung, Schmatz and Holbrook beat the League record with a time of 3:14.76.
“We’ve been climbing all year,” Milledge said. “We started at our lowest point and ended at our highest so far which is really good.”
Four East divers placed in finals, making up one-third of the 12 divers. All four varsity divers, seniors Brody Arvesen and Cameron Carollo, junior John Foster and sophomore Henry Sniezek, qualified for State by early January.
“All the divers have made improvements from the beginning of year — changing positions, doing different dives and working hard to perfect entries,” Coach Betsy Anderson said.
The swimmers’ performance at League gave them more confidence heading into the State meet.
“The focus is back on winning again because we’ve had a lot of guys step up and the freshmen came in and have been dominant,” Hornung said.
Swim coach Wiley Wright hopes to place in the top three places at State. The main competition comes from Wichita East, the winner from last year, and Blue Valley North.
Blue Valley North beat East earlier this year in a dual meet on senior night. However, according to Hornung, Blue Valley North would not have won a single event had they swam in Sunflower League.
“I like the fact that we got beat [by BVN] because it put a chip on our shoulder and it also brought us together as a team,” Schmatz said. “I feel like it showed the under classmen what it’s like to be in a big meet, and also put the taste of losing in their mouth. It doesn’t taste good and you want to win.”