TOPEKA — Great Bend’s Isaac Panzer and standout teammate Cole Pierce will wear different colored uniforms at the 5A state swimming championship at Topeka.
Panzer will compete in the 50 free (23.3) and 100 free (51.3). But Pierce will don his LaCrosse High School gear after he competed as a member of the Great Bend swimming team during the season.
Panzer is ranked 12th in the 50 free and 14th in the 100 free. Panzer finished 19th in the 50 (23.57) and 27th in the 100 free (52.74) last year. The top eight qualifiers make the final heat and the next eight qualify for the consolation heat.
“Isaac’s goal is to qualify in the top eight,” said Great Bend coach Steve Beaumont. “His training is solid and Isaac feels good about his chances, but his races you have to perform nearly perfect from the start, to your turns and your finish. He’s accustomed to the state atmosphere after competing there in the past.”
The Panthers will compete in the three relays — 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley relay. The Panthers’ best bet is the 16th-ranked 400 relay (3:38.64) of Matthew Huslig, Allen To, Daniel Abbott and Panzer.
We feel good about our training, but it will be awfully competitive. It’s the fastest 5A-1A times I’ve seen. We want to swim our race, post a great time to get to day two. This is the fastest pool we see all year. Part of it atmosphere that gets you going and part of it is the competition. The only way to stay day two is to swim your best.”
Beaumont said it’s a great experience to compete at the state meet.
“The guys have progressed a long way from where we started,” Beaumont said. “The great thing is our young swimmers will gain state experience. That’s a positive aspect.”
Pierce drives 38 miles each day to attend swim practice. Beaumont said Pierce has made a miraculous recovery from an off-season traffic accident in January, 2017 that sidelined him for several months.
“Cole had to work especially hard physically to get where he is today,” Beaumont said. “He had a lot of rehab to recover from his injuries. We’ve been proud to have Cole as a teammate.”
PANTHER STATE QUALIFIERS
200 medley relay—23—Great Bend, 1:52.66 (Daniel Abbott, Malachi Williams, Allen To, Hutchinson)
200 free relay—22—Great Bend, 1:38.67 (Matthew Huslig, Williams, To, Isaac Panzer)
400 free relay—16—Great Bend, 3:38.64 (Huslig, To, Abbott, Panzer)
50 freestyle—12—Panzer, 23.3
100 freestyle—14—Panzer, 51.3
200 freestyle—31—Huslig, 2:01.46
500 freestyle—22—Huslig, 5:36.17
200 freestyle—26—Cole Pierce, 2:00.36
500 freestyle—12—Pierce, 5:23.31