GRIFFITH | Wheeler coach Adam Klimczak was pretty pumped by his Bearcats’ performance Saturday at the Griffith Invite.
“This invite is a good place for a team to measure themselves against other schools of the same size,” Klimczak said. “We did a good job of measuring up today.”
Wheeler won six of 10 events to defend last year’s title with 136 points. Kankakee Valley was the runner-up (95), and host Griffith took third (39).
The Bearcats were led by Rachel Metzger, who won all four of her events.
“Our conference (Greater South Shore) does not have a lot of girls swim teams,” Klimczak said, “so sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how your team is shaping up. That’s why it’s good to be able to come to an invite like this and see how you compare to the competition.
The Kougars got a second place finish for the consecutive year with the help of Madison Babicka, who won all four events.
Babicka set a school record in the 50 free with a time of 24.75.
“That’s the second time this year that I broke the school record for the sprint,” Babicka said. “Considering how early it is in the season, I’m getting my times down substantially.”
Babicka participated in a boxing program during the offseason to help tone for her swimming season.
“Boxing helped me to work all of muscle groups,” she said. “I still went to the YMCA and swam all of my routines, but I felt I needed something to strengthen muscles I don’t normally use in my practice.”
Griffith’s Shannon Kunka defended her diving title in the invite with a top score of 184.45.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately,” Kunka said. “It’s normal for divers to have tough streaks like this. I’ve been rushing myself a little bit, and that throws my dives off. Today I was more relaxed in our home pool. I slowed down a little, and the results were a lot better.”
Kunka said the improvement in her reverse straight dive and her back twist both showed significant improvement.
“I didn’t do very well in either one of those dives the last couple of meets,” she said. “I did a lot better in both today. Hopefully this will help me break out and get going.”
Armed with a larger team than in years’ past, Morton coach Brian Rycerz was optimistic about how his team did at the invite, and for the future.
“This is the first time I had more than 10 girls in a very long time,” Rycerz said. “We won all of our (Great Lakes) conference duals last year. Then we lost the conference meet because we did not have enough swimmers to fill every event. We’re excited that we have a larger team this season. The new girls are kind of wide-eyed by the size of the invite and the crowd. It’s good for them to see this before sectionals.”