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Section: dL PAGE: 05

Date: 02/28/98

Head: Lee could carry a load for Munster.

By: JEFF CARROLL

INDIANAPOLIS - If Munster's Jeff Lee turns in the same type of performance

in today's swimming finals as he did in Friday's preliminaries, there is a

chance he could climb out of the pool with five medals hanging around his neck.

That would be two individual state titles, a couple of relay crowns and of

course the big one - a team championship for the Seahorses.

Lee was the most dominant individual of the preliminaries, shaving nearly

four seconds off of his sectional 200 freestyle time to capture the top seed

for today's race with a time of 1:38.96. He also had the top time in the 100

freestyle Friday night, clocking in at 44.84.

Lee was also on two Munster relay teams that qualified for today's final.

The 200 free relay squad grabbed the top seed with a preliminary time of

1:25.68. The 400 free relay was second to Columbus North at 3:09.55 and also

will compete in today's finals.

"I don't even know what I did, but I'll do the exact same thing tomorrow,"

Lee said.

The performance came after a week of practice in which Lee felt less than

his best.

"I felt bad all week in practice," Lee said. "But I guess that's good.

I wasn't sick, I just felt heavy."

Munster's Matt Lee also qualified in two individual events, finishing second

in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.33 and fourth in the 200 IM with a time

of 1:54.37.

Munster wasn't the only Region team to make an impact at Friday's

preliminaries. Hanover Central's Heath Montgomery qualified for two events in

today's finals, the 500 freestyle and the 200 freestyle. Highland's Matt

Gouwens swam the 100 breaststroke in 58.87 good for the third best qualifying

time.

But it was Lake Central's Todd Smolinski who may have provided the most

exciting moment of the preliminaries. He swam the breaststroke in 49.61, a new

state record.

The previous mark was 49.77 set by Bedford North Lawrence's Dan Schultz in

1995.

"I least expected to do this," Smolinski said. "I was just trying to

qualify. I'm really surprised."

Despite the strong performance, Munster will have its work cut out for it if

it hopes to win its first team championship since 1980.

The two teams ahead of it in the state coaches poll, Columbus North and

Carmel, were the only two teams to qualify more swimmers in today's finals than

Munster. Columbus North will participate in 10 title races today, and Carmel,

which has won seven of the last eight state championships will race in eight.

The Seahorses qualified a total of six individuals or relay teams for

today's finals.

The diving finals also will be today.

Despite the uphill battle, Munster still holds out hope of ending the reign

of Carmel dominance.

"You want to show those guys up whenever you can," Lee said.

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