By Don Eskins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Rockhurst Hawklets swam their way to this year’s Ozarks Invitational championship on Saturday at the John H. Foster Natatorium here in Springfield.
The Hawklets amassed a total of 485.5 points en route to picking up the victory. Placing second was Park Hill South with 373 points while Glendale High, with 311 points, finished third.
“I’m very happy with today’s outcome,” said Rockhurst head coach Paul Winkeler. “We have a very young team and this weekend has been a great experience for them. They learned how to race and to how win a meet, the most important thing.”
“But the meet did something else important for us as well,” said the Hawklet coach. “It gave us a starting point, a marker, as to just where we are at this time of the year.”
For the Rockhurst swimmers the meet also had a flavor of redemption.
“We lost a meet yesterday so it felt really good to be able to come here a day later, to a meet as big as the Ozarks Invitational, and win,” said Rockhurst senior Dylan Nill. “We all got together last night, went over what we did wrong, and decided we didn’t want that to happen to us again.”
Nill would pick up a gold medal in the 500-yard free style for the Hawklets after posting a meet best time of 4:42.66.
Although only one team could claim this year’s meet championship a host of athletes walked out of the natatorium owning individual titles, as did Rockhurst’s Nill.
One of those athletes was Ozark’s Caleb Chrestman who grabbed a title in the 50 free style after recording a time of 22.71.
“There were a lot of good swimmers at the meet and the competition was really tough,” said Chrestman. “But I have explosive starts, good turns and my technique has improved a great deal, something I’ve worked really hard on. I think in the tough races they’ve given me an edge.”
“I’ve already dropped quite a bit of time from my best marks and it’s still early in the season,” the Tiger swimmer said. “I’ve also been able to win most of my meets so far and that makes me happy.”
Also happy was Logan-Rogervilles’s Andrew Atwood. Atwood claimed a title in the 100 free style covering the distance in a time of 48.72.
“The competition was really good, everybody was fast,” said Atwood. “But it was fun and I think my time qualified me for state which has really motivated me for the rest of the season.”
While only a select number of competitors get to pick up victories others can find satisfaction in simply bringing down their times.
“My best finish was in the 100 fly where I finished second after posting a time of 56.17,” said Kickapoo senior Jacob Berkheimer. “But I’m happy with my effort. I’ve been focusing on my underwater kicks and I was able to improve on my time. That means that things are moving in the right direction for me.”
Marshfield’s Coy Davisof Marshfield qualified for state in the breaststroke in 2018 and hopes to make the trip again this year. Last year, at state, he registered a time of 1:03.26 and finished 13th.
However a shoulder injury has made his start on the 2019 season a difficult one.
“I swam okay in the 100 butterfly this morning,” said Davis. “I wasn’t able to improve on my time but I didn’t drop any time either. I just hope my shoulder improves some by the time our next meet rolls around.”
Davis went on to post a 1:08.07 in breaststroke competition later that afternoon to place 10th.
Although the tournament did experience a few electronic problems early, Hillcrest tournament director John Mullen says that overall things went very well.
“We had some timing issues to take care of after losing the use of our scoreboard,” said Mullen. “But once we got started things went smoothly and we really had some great times turned in.”
23 teams competed in this year’s Ozarks Invitational.
Top 10 Teams
1. Rockhurst – 484.5
2. Park Hill South – 373
3. Glendale – 311
4. Park Hill – 163.5
5. Kickapoo – 153
6. Francis Howell Central – 129
7. Ozark – 121
8. Logan Rogersville – 108
9. West Plains – 91
10. Carthage – 89
200 Yard Medley Relay
1. Glendale – 1:42.48
200 Yard Free
1. Michael Jasinski – 1:45.46 – Glendale
200 Yard IM
1. Ethan Roach – 2:00.46 – PKHS
50 Yard Free
1. Caleb Chrestman – 22.71 – Ozark
1 MTR Diving
1. Greyson Langer – 399.05 – PKHS
100 Yard Fly
1. Ben Hines – 52.12 – NEVA
100 Yard Free
1. Andrew Atwood – 48.72 – LROG
500 Yard Free
1. Dylan Nill – 4:42.66 – ROCK
200 Yard Free Relay
1. Glendale – 1:30.09
100 Yard Backstroke
1. Ethan Roach – 53:51 – PKHS
100 Yard Breaststroke
1. Brayden Cole – 1:01.09 – CART
400 Yard Free Relay
1. Glendale – 3:17.47