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Moline is coming off its second straight Western Big Six boys swimming title as it heads to the IHSA sectional swim meet Saturday at United Township.

“That was a real big deal,” said Moline coach Craig Frederiksen, now in his third year as head coach. “It helps the confidence. It’s so much fun pulling off a title like that. For us, it was a great end to the regular season.”

He also saluted his junior varsity. Though the Maroons did not have enough swimmers to win the JV team title, they did very well in the events they were in — enough to compete on varsity with many of the other teams, Frederiksen said.

Moline’s varsity Western Big Six champions include Abhi Sodhani in diving, Peter Son in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke, Austin Morris in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke as well as the 200-yard medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

But Fredericksen is plenty realistic about the sectional this Saturday, which includes powerful Dunlap High School among others.

He lists his best bets for advancing as Morris in the 100 backstroke and possibly the 100 butterfly; the 200 medley relay team of Morris, Son, Ethan Luong and Avery Fowler and possibly diver Abhi Sodhani.

“We had some great times on virtually no rest,” Frederksen said of the conference meet. “And our hope is we get a little better return out of that going into the sectional so we can get though (to state).”

The meet will be longtime United Township coach Dave Busch’s last at the UT pool. He announced after the girls season in the fall that this was his last year. It could also be his last swim meet as head coach if none of his top hopes come through in the sectional. All first-place finishers in the sectional and whomever beats the qualifying time in each event advance.

UT’s best hopes are in the 200 freestyle relay, Eddie Sierra-Lee in diving and Ian Johnson in the 50-yard freestyle, where he is seeded second.

“He’s gone 22.2 and the cut is 21.8,” Busch said of Johnson.

Busch said his final meet at UT is “kind of bittersweet,” but that he is looking forward to it.

Busch is leaving with quite a legacy after 38 years as coach.

Frederiksen, who swam against Busch's teams when he was at Moline as a student, and now has coached against him for three years, calls Busch an iconic figure for the conference.

“I think that the area is going to miss him,” Frederiksen said. “Thirty-eight years and to be such a class act, every one of them. It didn’t matter if it was an up year or a down year. Respect, honorable — every quality you look for. Truly like an archetype to the swimming community around here.

"There’s really nothing I can explain as to what an impact he’s had on not just East Moline, but the entire swimming community around here. It’s going to be a true loss.”

UT bowlers aim for top 5: United Township girls bowling coach Sharon Krack first wants the Panthers to be able to bowl on the second day at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford at the IHSA state meet.

The top three teams bring home a trophy. But if the Panthers make the top 12 teams after Friday and get to bowl Saturday, Krack says the Panthers are shooting for the top five and seeing what happens.

The Panthers bowled at Cherry Bowl Lanes in January and are comfortable there, she said.

“If you are in the top five, you have a shot at getting a trophy as the day goes on,” Krack said.

The Panthers rolled better than a 3,100 in the first round at the La Salle Peru Sectional, where they took second after totaling 2,800-plus in the afternoon session and falling out of first.

Krack believes if UT can put back-to-back 3,100s together they “should be right there.”

UTHS is led by Leah Burkeybile (1,354 at sectionals), Samantha Miner (1,229 at sectionals) and Sky Stoutt (1,215). Rock Island's Lynzee Quade also qualified as an individual for the second straight year.