The final week of the 2017 summer season produced a mixed bag for the O’Fallon Breakers swim team.
On Tuesday, July 18, the Breakers invaded Highland for a battle of unbeatens and grabbed a dramatic 11-point victory — and the 2017 regular season Midwest Swim Conference championship — en route to a perfect 9-0 regular season.
Four days later, those teams again battled for bragging rights at the 10-team conference meet championship at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, with Highland stealing the win — again in nail-biting fashion.
All told, the O’Fallon squad demonstrated they remain a force in area swimming on both the individual and team levels.
“These kids were unbelievable this week,” said according to Breakers head coach Kirsty Stooke. “First, to march into Highland and steal a statement win and the regular season title was just huge. We’ve had just one regular season loss over the past five years. Nobody else can say that. And to then hit the pool just a few days later and again push Highland — and eight other teams — to the limit was just a gutsy team effort. And along the way, most of our kids achieved new best times, and several earned high point trophies at Saturday’s championship. So I just can’t say enough about these kids and this team.”
In the regular season finale at Highland, both teams split the four medley relays to open the meet and then split the 10 freestyle relays to close the meet, but the Breakers grabbed 33 of 62 individual events in between, accounting for the narrow win.
Triple-event winners were Natalie Edwards (100 breast, 100 IM and 100 back in 15-18 girls), Camden Kimmel (25 free, 100 IM and 25 fly in 9-10 boys), Will Peterson (25 free, 25 breast and 25 back in 8-under boys), and Edde Sue Doehring (25 free, 25 back and 25 fly in 8-under girls). Edwards also set a new team record in the 100-meter breast, eclipsing her old mark with a new standard of 1:20.31.
Other event winners were Noah Tinge (50 free and 50 back), Matthew Stooke (100 free and 100 back), Tobi McGraw (100 IM and 100 back), Kylie Clark (100 free), Samantha Stooke (25 free), Alex Hattan (50 breast), Michael Stooke (100 IM), Lily McCollum (25 back), Carlee Auld (50 back), Michael Meyer (100 back), Michael Rottschalk (25 fly), and Sierra Workman (50 fly).
As it turned out, this dual meet battle was just a prelude for the same drama at the MWSC meet championship Saturday.
Both teams won two of the four medley relays to open the meet, with O’Fallon finishing second in the two Highland wins. From there, both teams battled eight other conference teams through tough individual event championships before Highland closed the meet by winning five of 10 freestyle relays (the Breakers won four of the remaining five) to seal the victory. In the end, Highland tallied 2,300 points followed by O’Fallon’s 2,223.5 points. St. Clair grabbed the third-place trophy with 1,441 points.
“Our kids fought hard to the very end, but when the final points were tallied, we just fell short,” Stooke said. “And while we would have preferred a team championship there’s no shame in placing second at this meet in this league. We scored over 2,000 points and set two new conference records on the day. So we had plenty to cheer about and we’re very proud of all our swimmers.”
In terms of those two MWSC meet records, Natalie Edwards set a new conference standard in the 15-18 girls 100-yard IM with a winning time of 1:00.92, while the foursome of Shelby Bushong, Natalie Edwards, Sierra Workman, and Kylie Clark set a new mark in 13-18 girls 200-yard medley relay by winning in 1:55.83.
Age group high-point trophies awarded by the conference to the top point-producers in the meet for each age group were earned by Edde Sue Doerhing (first place 8-under girls), Camden Kimmel (first place in 9-10 boys), Michael Stooke (first place in 11-12 boys), Natalie Edwards (first place 15-18 girls), Will Peterson (second place 8-under boys), Lincoln O’Leary (third place 8-under boys), Noah Tinge (third place 11-12 boys), and Matthew Stooke (third place 13-14 boys).
In terms of specific performances, seven Breakers captured individual event championships. Edwards, Doehring and (Michael) Stooke each won all three of their individual events, representing three of the just six swimmers at the meet to do so. Edwards swept the field in the 15-18 girls 100 breast, 100 IM, and 100 back. Doehring did the same in the 8-under girls 25 free, 25 back, and 25 fly, while Stooke pulled the sweep in the 50 back, 50 fly, and 100 IM. Other event winners were Will Peterson (25 back and 25 fly in 8-under boys), Noah Tinge (50 free in 11-12 boys), and Matthew Stooke (100 back in 13-14 boys).
Medley relay wins were notched by the record-breaking 13-18 girls squad mentioned above and the 12-under boys medley relay of Noah Tinge, Alex Hattan, Camden Kimmel, and Andrew Rottschalk. Free relay wins were logged by the 8-under boys freestyle relay team of Will Peterson, Brett Hattan, Logan Luechtefeld, and Michael Rottschalk; the 9-10 boys squad of Camden Kimmel, Brady Lutchefeld, Andrew Rottschalk, and Zach Thoman; the 11-12 boys foursome of Michael Stooke, Alex Hattan, Garrett Bush, and Noah Tinge; and the 13-14 girls tandem of Kylie Clark, Tobi McGraw, Alyssa Thoman, and Shelby Bushong.
With the 2017 season now in the books, the Breakers should expect another strong season next year, according to Coach Stooke.
“We do lose Natalie Edwards, who capped a summer swim career that saw her claim six first-place high point trophies at this annual meet, not to mention her critical role in the relays. Yanni Guskey graduates as well, and he’s been a mainstay on this team, too, particularly in the breaststroke, which he demonstrated again today with a top eight finish.
“But fortunately, this team is bigger than just a few swimmers as every MWSC meet features 62 events. That requires a large team effort, and that’s why we have been so successful. Our kids work hard and each brings something to the table. That’s the nature of this team, and why it’s so rewarding to coach these kids and this program.”