Moline became the first team in 20 years to win three straight Western Big Six conference swim meet titles and set three meet records in the process on Saturday afternoon at East Moline Municipal Pool.
The Maroons, who have won every meet and invite this year, won all 10 events in which they were seeded first and totaled 344 points as a team across the 12 events. Galesburg (252 points) was runner-up, followed by meet hosts United Township (238) and Rock Island (193).
Moline’s three-peat is the first since since Galesburg took six straight Big Six swim titles from 1994-99. Moline’s only other string of at least three Big Six titles in a row, which came in 1980-84, occurred when the conference meet had just begun. Moline’s coach in 1984, Mike Frederiksen, is coincidentally the cousin of current Maroons coach Craig Frederiksen’s dad.
“It’s an important milestone for us,” said coach Frederiksen. “Winning this meet is a big deal, and especially to do it three years in a row. We’re pretty happy with that.”
With an aim to be at their strongest at next Saturday’s Rock Island Sectional and beyond, Ferderiksen said the Maroons were not fully rested. Their two weeks off were spent grinding out final improvements.
Despite the lack of full rest, the first event resulted in the first of Moline’s three Big Six meet records, all of which they were seeded to break before the meet.
Austin Morris, Peter Son, Ethan Luong and Alex Klumb clocked a 1:38.16 to break Rock Island’s 2015 mark of 1:39.06 and win the 200-yard medley relay. Morris also swam a 52.28 in the 100 backstroke to break his own 2017 meet record of 53.26. The last race of the afternoon was won by Moline’s 400 free relay (Remi Greko, Avery Fowler, Klumb, Morris) in 3:19.99, breaking Rock Island’s 1989 WB6 meet record of 3:20.71.
Helping the team to a third straight title was satisfying for Thompson, a senior, who said he remembers getting “pummeled” by the Rocks his freshman year, when Moline finished last.
“After sophomore year when we won the first time, a new adrenaline flowed through us, and we kept wanting more. We went undefeated in dual meets, and this year we went undefeated in everything,” said Thompson. “It’s been great to know that every year we keep going for more goals and achieving those goals.”
Thompson won the 200 freestyle (1:51.36) and 500 freestyle (4:57.34). Junior teammate Henry VanNote was second in the 500 with a 4:57.68. Frederiksen said it was the first time both swam the event under five minutes.
“Those two, that’s the swim of the meet,” said Frederiksen of Moline’s 500 performance. “To swim that, not tapered yet, should set us up real well for sectionals next week.”
Another meet record came from Galesburg junior Drew Giles, who swam a 1:00.81 to win the 100 breaststroke and top the time of 1:00.99 from United Township's Keith Gunderson in 1990.
Galesburg’s Austyn White (347.25) edged Moline’s Abhi Sodhani (339.50) in diving; Keith Richardson (314.20) was third for UT.
Other Moline event winners were Son (200 IM), Klumb (50 free), Morris (100 fly), Greko (100 free), and the 200 free relay (Greko, Luong, Fowler, Klumb).
Rock Island coach Drew Wilson said some Rocks missed the meet because of grades as well as the flu, but he was pleased how the team has continued to drop time this season.
UT coach Brett Busch said the Panthers were also dealing with sickness this week.
“But that gave a lot of opportunities for guys to move up in relays, and they stepped up,” said Busch, “and executed their swims.”
Moline’s Greko was dealing with an unknown illness of his own, but the sophomore still helped the 400 free relay break the meet record that had stood since 1989.
“I thought it was great to be able to set the record, even though I didn’t swim very well," he said. "It’s good that my teammates were still able to.”