JIM HUNSLEY: College choices don't blur Chesterton swimmers' focus

2013-10-30T16:00:00Z 2013-10-31T04:37:07Z JIM HUNSLEY: College choices don't blur Chesterton swimmers' focusJim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 30, 2013 4:00 pm  • 

Chesterton's Aaron Whitaker, Blake Pieroni and Jack Wallar left no mystery about their college choices Tuesday night.

Whitaker came in with a Michigan T-shirt, while Pieroni and Wallar proudly displayed Indiana attire.

The college-decision event was devoid of the increasingly popular logo hat swap, where recruits try to build tension among the crowd about which school they will ultimately choose.

It wasn't an attention-getting circus, just a simple exercise, which I was very happy to see.

I don't understand the need for the increased need of pomp surrounding some of these events. It's an important day for these teens, but sometimes things are overstated, full of style more than substance. The process appears belabored.

Parents, siblings, Chesterton swim coach Kevin Kinel and athletic director Garry Nallenweg attended. Smiles were all around, but the exercise lasted only a few minutes.

Michigan (19 NCAA titles) and Indiana (six) are big-time swimming programs, and all three athletes showed enthusiasm for what transpired.

Pieroni pointed out the history of IU swimming, referring to alums and Olympic champions Mark Spitz and Gary Hall Jr.

What truly struck me was the trio of talented swimmers also spent time discussing some unfinished business: their senior prep seasons.

The Trojans are the defending state champions. Whitaker broke the state record in the 100 fly last year; Pieroni broke the 100 free record and the duo were also part of the record-setting 400 free relay squad.

"I'll stop getting the e-mails," Pieroni said. "I can finally start focusing on the high school season."

With their college choices in the books, concentration levels should be back to where they were -- or even better -- than they were in their junior years.

Kinel beamed when he talked about these three seniors, talking about what great people they are. He also thanked them for their preseason pronouncement.

"That's huge; I'm real appreciative," Kinel said. "When the decision isn't made until later, it can hamper one's performance.

"These guys are able to get down to business."

Aaron's twin brother Ethan is close to making his own college decision. He's in the middle of the process with the Naval Academy. Kinel believed that decision will come sooner rather than later.

I won't be shocked if the Trojans hoist the state trophy once again this winter.

The Whitakers, Wallar and Pieroni look forward to the future, won't rest on their past achievements and are focused on not taking the present for granted.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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