Seth Miller got a taste of the state swimming and diving meet last year.
Now in his junior year, the Br. Rice swimmer is hoping to go back for seconds in a big way.
After qualifying individually last season in the 100-yard butterfly, Miller is eyeing a return to the state meet in two individual events and, potentially, with a relay team comprised of young, talented Crusaders.
“It was a lot of fun making it last year, but I plan on going down for both events and a relay,” Miller said. “My times from last year, I’m already at them now. By the time I start tapering to get down, I should be a few seconds under the state cut.”
Competing in a Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference (MCAC) dual meet, host Br. Rice defeated St. Rita 101-67 on Jan. 23 on Senior Night.
Miller won the 50-yard freestyle and also swam on the winning 200-medley relay team.
For postseason events, Miller (Evergreen Park, Central Middle School) expects to compete in the butterfly and backstroke.
The Br. Rice swim team has seen an influx of young athletes come out for the team, including freshman Daren Rodgers (Morgan Park, Morgan Park Academy).
“We’re a young team this year with 14 freshmen,” said Br. Rice Coach Tony Cichowicz. “There’s a lot of learning left, but it’s a good building year.”
Both Miller and Rodgers swim with the Chicago Wolfpack Aquatic Club (CWAC) with a year-round schedule.
Rodgers won a state championship when he was 10 in the 50-yard freestyle long-course race.
It’s been an adjustment to the high school level, but a fun change for the freshman.
“It’s a really new experience for me, going back and forth with events with shorter rest,” Rodgers said. “I know it helps me. It’s more a team effort, too, in high school swim. You’re involved a lot more with the team, from getting the deck together to cheering teammates on.”
In the Senior Night meet, Rodgers won the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle.
Other winners included Kiernan Schumacher (200 free), David Wolf (100 free), Owen Greybill (100 backstroke) and Sean Griffin (100 breaststroke).
The 200-medley relay included Rodgers, Griffin, Miller and Patrick Dumais.
Dumais and Miller are team captains for the Crusaders.
With so many freshmen in the lineup, Miller has seen plenty of talent and fast-dropping times over the course of the season.
“What I’m excited about, and Daren should be, too, is with the 14 new freshmen who came in this year,” Miller said. “That’s the biggest number we’ve seen in a while at Rice. They’re learning, and they’ve got a lot of years to develop.”
Br. Rice will compete Feb. 22 in the MCAC meet at Fenwick. The Crusaders will travel to the Lockport sectional on Feb. 16.
The state meet will be Feb. 22-23 at New Trier High School.
Rodgers said he’s ready to compete in the postseason.
“Hopefully, we can do well individually and dominate relays [at MCAC],” Rodgers said. “I’ve watched sectional meets, but I haven’t experienced the state meet. I’m looking forward to conference and sectionals. State is something I hope I can achieve this year.”
Jake Kuska won the 200-yard individual medley for St. Rita. The 200-free relay (Spencer Ryan, Homer Olivares, Sebastian Chaidez, Christopher Jimenez) and 400-free relay (Kuska, Chaidez, Olivares, Jimenez) also won races.