Like every other boys’ swimming team in the Metro League, Jesuit and Southridge are pursing the three-time state champion Sunset Apollos.

Whether or not the Crusaders and Skyhawks can catch the Apollos hinges on plenty of factors, but neither plans on stepping to the side and letting Sunset mosh back to another title.

Jesuit proved as much on Thursday against Southridge, beating the Skyhawks, 119-51, winning a combined eight events between the relays and individual competitions.

“We have a really young team with a lot of good freshmen like (Anthony) Nosack,” said Jesuit sophomore Sean Calkins. “We have a long way to go still. We have a lot of developing to do, especially growing. But, it’s looking pretty good for this year. It’s hard to judge how it’ll play out, but it should be a pretty good season for us.”

Nosack is used to competing in high-talent level meets, having competed at the club level for the Oregon Thunderbolts. Whereas some high school swimmers are just now getting ahold of their conditioning level, swimmers such as Calkins and Nosack are in midseason form.

“It helps a lot because the (club) practices are longer and we swim year-round,” said Nosack. “We don’t have to get in shape right when the season starts. In some events, the talent level is definitely similar. It all depends on who you’re racing.”

Nosack won the 100 breaststroke and took second in the 100 butterfly against Southridge. The first 25 meters of the breaststroke were pretty easygoing, Nosack said. Then, he built the next 25 meters and sprinted the final 50 for the victory. Already a state meet contender in the 100 breaststroke, Nosack said he just has to keep training hard and make sure he races well with a fast pace.

Senior Jackson Wahl won the 500 free and took second in the 100 backstroke. John Casas won the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly for the Crusaders.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit boys' swimmer Jackson Wahl won the 500 free against Southridge on Thursday.

“It’s great being a part of this team,” said Nosack. “There’s a real strong sense of community. The swim meets are run a little bit different than club, so that took some getting used to for the first meet. But, I got used to it very quickly. It all went pretty smooth.”

Calkins won the 200 free (1:51) and the 100 backstroke (56.13) on Thursday to help the Crusaders cruise past Southridge.

“The 200 felt pretty easy,” said Calkins. “I was surprised that I actually went that fast. I didn’t feel like I was trying that hard, but really that’s a good thing. I can go that much faster.”

Swimming a middle distance race like the 200 is a little different than a sprint or long distance, Calkins said. The 200 isn’t one of Calkins’ main events, but he has a definite handle on what it takes to be successful at the race, should he choose to focus on it come districts.

“You have to pace it in a certain way,” said Calkins. “You try to go out with a good, even pace. Then, in the second 50 that’s when you start picking it up some more. It’s going to hurt. There’s nothing you can do about that, but then the third 50, that’s when you go hard because you know you’re going to have energy. That’s when you go at it and go after it. I definitely had enough in the tank.”

The sophomore wanted his 100 backstroke to feel just as effortless as the 200, in order to gage how much of a ceiling he has to reach before districts and state. Calkins — who finished sixth at state last year in the 100 back — wants to make a return trip to the 6A state meet and at the very least qualify for the ‘A’ finals in February.

Southridge was down a couple of key competitors but were paced by junior star Matt Braun, who helped the Skyhawks place second at state last year. Braun swept the short-distance sprints against Jesuit, winning the 50 (20.07) and 100 free.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge junior boys' swimmer Matt Braun won the 50 and 100 yard freestyle against Jesuit.

“In the 50, you just have to sprint the whole thing and go as hard as you can,” said Braun. “My goal was just to swim as fast as I could and beat the competition. (Jesuit) was great, too. Jesuit’s a great school, great program. I was honored to be able to compete with them and happy I could pull out a win for my team.”

Braun flexed his muscles and 6-foot-4 frame over the last 50 meters of the 100-free to extend away from the field and fly to a first place finish.

Toward the tail end of the race, the Skyhawk junior expanded his wingspan and long legs over the length of the pool and motored to the wall for the two-second triumph.

“I think I just got a little adrenaline rush at the last wall,” said Braun. “I saw I was ahead and wanted to keep that up. I was trying to go fast, but I diidn’t want to die. So I didn’t take the first 50 out as hard as I could. Near the end, I had enough energy to power through and get my good time.”

As a team, Braun hopes Southridge does well again at districts, though that could be challenging with the amount of seniors that graduated off last year’s second-place in the Metro League.

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