Back to stateSuperior High School returns to state meet with one swimmer and one diver
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School swimming and diving team is headed back to state this weekend after a two-year absence.
On Saturday, juniors Andrew Eisenmann and Mason Morris will represent the Spartans at the Division 1 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) State Swimming and Diving Meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison.
Eisenmann will compete in the 100 freestyle and Morris will compete in diving. The diving competition begins at 10 a.m. and swimming begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“This will be both of their first trips to state,” said George Lehman, head coach of the Spartans. “Andy probably had an opportunity as a freshman on a relay, but he broke a collarbone in a snowmobiling accident.
“I’m extremely proud of the work they’ve put in all year,” Lehman continued. “It’s a totally different mentality between swimming and diving — two completely different events within one sport. But Mason is pretty much fearless and Andy is stubborn and focused this year.”
Morris is the first Spartan diver to advance to state since Mike Sherwood qualified in 2010. Eisenmann is the first swimmer to advance since 2008, when Superior sent two relay teams and two individuals.
The juniors will be in for a new experience Saturday in Madison. Lehman said the state meet is a high-pressure situation with thousands of fans. Some athletes struggle under such conditions, but both Eisenmann and Morris have thrived under pressure this season.
“I think Andy’s been a big meet swimmer all year,” Lehman said. “Every time he’s up against stiffer competition he swims faster. And Mason has had his best meets at large invitationals, so I’m hopeful.”
Morris has been diving for three years now, but he learned some of the basic skills of the sport long before.
“When I was in third or second grade I was in gymnastics competitively,” Morris said. “When I heard we had a dive team, and my brother who graduated few years ago said they needed divers, I said I’d come out and dive for them.”
Gymnastics corresponds well with diving, but there are differences, Morris said. In gymnastics, a gymnast lands feet-first with his hands in the air. In diving, it’s just the opposite.
“And the come-outs are a lot different because you’re higher in the air when you’re flipping in diving, and you’re lower in gymnastics,” Morris said. “When you get up (on the board) and you’ve never really done a dive before, it’s kind of iffy and you’re a little scared, but you just stay focused and do it.”
Morris said he has improved greatly in diving since he began, but he knows he still has work to do.
At last week’s sectional meet in Hudson, Morris went into the competition with a humble mindset.
“There’s a lot of better divers that I knew I probably couldn’t beat, but I tried my best to beat them,” Morris said. “I ended up fourth with a score of 344.20, but I came out on top in my book.”
Morris’ score at Hudson was a personal best. His previous high score was a 326.
He left the Hudson pool with no expectations, but at about 11 p.m. that same night Morris learned he had made the cut for state.
Now Morris says his sole focus is to set a new personal high score and to place in the top 16 to advance to the finals.
“Andy’s identified himself as a swimmer since he was little,” Lehman said. “In most parts of the state, if you want to be a competitive swimmer you’re swimming year-round. Andy has not been doing that … so he’s an overachiever.”
Eisenmann comes from a family of swimmers, so his state berth is not unexpected.
“My cousins swam and my sister swam, and my father and my uncle swam,” Eisenmann said. “I swam all the way through the YMCA program with the Whalers and all the way up.”
Eisenmann has been swimming for the Spartans since he was a freshman, and he thanks his parents, Chuck and RaeJean, for their support. During the height of the season, Eisenmann spends two to three hours a day in the pool swimming from 6,000 to 10,000 yards in a practice.
He’s moved up Superior’s all-time lists in his junior season, and he has his eyes set on improving even more before he graduates.
“I was hoping to climb those lists this year a lot,” Eisenmann said. “I was hoping to break the 100 freestyle record, but that didn’t quite work out. Next year hopefully.”
John Lund is the current record holder in the 100 freestyle. He set the team record of 47.62 seconds in 2000 and the pool record of 48.50 in 1999.
Eisenmann said he knows roughly what the record times are, but he just tries to swim a personal best in every race.
At the sectional meet in Hudson, Eisenmann swam a 49.10 to finish second and advance to state. Willie Skinner a junior from Hudson, won the race in a time of 48.35.
“I was feeling good,” Eisenmann said. “I was excited, a little bit nervous, but more excited. I was just ready to do my thing.”
He hopes to surprise the competition at state by placing higher than he is seeded. Alex Swain of Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial holds the top seed with a time of 46.95 seconds.