In a sport with no defense such as swimming, all you can do is have a faster time than the previous year and hope that it holds up.
For Plainfield junior Ryan Netzel, he did have faster times Saturday in both his state final races from the previous year, where he finished third and fourth in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle, respectively, but he managed just seventh and sixth-place finishes in the meet at New Trier.
“This year’s junior class is just loaded,” Plainfield coach George Sam said. “There is a good crop of boys throughout the state. There were some insane times.”
Despite coming up short of last year’s finishes, it was a strong meet from Netzel.
“Ryan swam really well,” Sam said. “The times this year were off the chart. His times would have easily gotten him in the top six last year. He had a fantastic meet. It is a good lead in to next year.”
“I was looking forward to higher finishes but I’m happy with the times I swam,” Netzel said. “I tried to just worry about my own race and swim my best time. I was a little disappointed that I missed the ‘A’ heat (in the 500) but I had to come back and do my best.”
Netzel also broke Brandon Tran’s program record of five state medals by picking up his fifth and sixth of his career. Plus, he still has a year left.
“I’m looking to go back and do better,” he said. “I’m going to work on technical stuff and race strategies.”
Sophomore Merek Avery also competed at state, taking 42nd in the 100 backstroke (55.28).
“I’m proud of him for getting to state,” Sam said.
State marked the end of another successful season for Plainfield, which included its first conference title after it won the Independent Conference a few weeks ago.
“It was about as good as it could have been,” Netzel said. “We won our first conference title and dropped times at sectional. It was a good season.”
“I’m extremely happy with the season,” Sam said. “We wanted to win conference and did. We had 100 percent top times at the sectional and that is all that you can ask for.”
With just one senior on the sectional squad, next year has the potential to be an even bigger year for Plainfield.
“I’m really excited for this group,” Sam said. “As long as they keep their spirit going, they will get stronger. A lot of the young guys were able to get experience at the sectional and they all had good times. Everyone is back in the relays. We will have a lot of guys back for next year.”
“I think we’re going to do really good next year,” Netzel said. “I think we will get a lot more to state.”