MORRIS – Standing between Morris and its first boys swimming and diving state final qualifier since 2004 is what coach Andrew Porth calls the toughest sectional field in Illinois.
Most sectionals, Porth said, will send an average of two to three swimmers to state per event. That number will range from six to 10, on average, at Metea Valley, Porth said.
“Here, every kid in the fast heat qualifies,” Porth said.
Senior Jacob Beaudin swam the 50-meter freestyle in 23.04 seconds Jan. 18 at the Riverside-Brookfield Invitational. Qualifying for state in that event – the standard time is 21.9 seconds – was “definitely a possibility” for Beaudin, Porth said.
But Beaudin has not competed since a Jan. 30 meet at Oswego East. Injuries caused his Redskins career to come to what Porth calls an “abrupt end.”
There has been some good news for Morris on the injury front. Senior Jimmy Meridieth, who had been out since Dec. 17, returned for last Friday’s Kays Swim Tune-Up meet at Kankakee. But Porth said that Meridieth’s times are well off what they would likely be without an absence of almost two months.
Even some swimmers who have competed in most, if not all, of the Redskins’ meets have been set back by injuries. Junior Marcus Schluntz has dealt with a banged-up shoulder and hip, but was still able to replicate his 2012-13 personal-best time of 1:20.95 in the 100-meter breaststroke.
“I’m proud of me matching my best time from last year. That really felt great to me. I hope at sectionals I beat that time,” Schluntz said. “I do like my chances. The work that I’ve put into it, I’m pretty hopeful of beating it.”
Injuries are not the only thing that have slowed the Redskins this season. They were scheduled to compete three times in a six-day span in late January, including twice at home. All three meets were canceled because of inclement weather.
“It kept us from getting into a mode of not only seeing where we’re at, but practices get to where they get that mundaneness,” Porth said. “You have a couple days where you can’t get out of your driveway, and pretty soon, you’re back to almost square one.”
Injuries and cancellations may have set the Redskins back, but Porth said they would have a tough time competing at Metea Valley even in the best-case of scenarios. They put more of a priority on meets like Friday’s at Kankakee, from which several Redskins brought home medals.
That is not to say that the Redskins are conceding anything going into Saturday, or that the sectional is unimportant to them. For those like junior Jordan Ramirez who one day hope to advance to state, an idea of how far away they are from their goals can be obtained against a field of elite swimmers.
“My goal for Saturday is putting up a new [personal best] and getting ready for next year, making sure that I’m ready and maybe I can place up in sectionals next year,” Ramirez said.