Chieftains make waves at counties


Lifetouch Courtesy Photo

Senior Dominic Lount is sad to see his final meet for swim. Lount swam the 50-yard freestyle this year.

Charles Borus, Editor

It’s the feeling of water encasing senior Dominic Lount that propels him to the opposite side of the pool. His adrenaline kicks in as soon as he touches the cold water.

“I am so proud of my team and I am so lucky to have been able to play this sport three years of high school,” Lount said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to be one of the captains of a team as dedicated to this sport.”

Following a busy swim and dive season for the team, their time in the water was not over yet. Their work in and sometimes outside of the pool pushed captain Cameron Smale and Lount to qualify for counties in swimming. To qualify, Smale posted a time 5:49 in the 500 yard freestyle, and Lount posted a time of 24.1 seconds in the 50 yard freestyle. Smale went on to earn a medal at the county meet.

Sophomore Lorenzo Weihermuller and senior Joshua Essenmacher qualified for counties in diving, and Essenmacher went on to earn a medal.

“I wasn’t expecting to qualify,” Smale said. “To qualify, it would require me to drop over 30 seconds off my previous time. I felt both confused and excited at the same time when I found out I qualified.”

Smale has been swimming for Utica since his freshman year, qualifying for counties in previous years in the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay.

“Any time you can qualify for the county meet is an excellent accomplishment,” coach Joe Michol said. “Only the top twenty-four swimmers out of the entire county qualify for each swim event. It is always each swimmer’s individual and team aspirations to qualify for the county meet, as it is a stepping-stone toward the state meet.”

The counties meet was held at L’Anse Cruse High School on Feb. 8. While Utica showed a valiant effort, Dakota High School came out victorious with 397 points, while Utica had 13 points.

“Especially in events like these, it is extremely important for teams to come together and support each other,” senior Andrew Garrison said. “ We cheer for each other and congratulate our teammates when they finish. It’s a tradition we have on the team, and it really brings us all together.”

Both in and out of the pool, the Chieftain swimmers are one team. Despite some of them not swimming in the counties meet, their support did not stop.

“The whole team stands at the end of the pool cheering them on,” senior captain Ryan Fromm said. “It’s nice because they can see us and it motivates them to not give up. It’s definitely incredibly rewarding to see your teammates finish an event-successful or not.”

Now that both Lount and Smale are seniors, they will miss swimming for Utica High School.

“As one of the only guys to join the team as a freshman,” Smale said, “I was able to help build the team into a phenomenal group of men. It was a great experience to build friendships and watch the younger guys on the team choose their favorite events. Also, Coach Joe is one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had, and I’ll miss practicing with him every day.”

Since Smale was a freshman when starting, and Lount was a sophomore, both have only improved. While they did have days where giving up would have been the easier way out, they continued onwards and were able to see the fruits of their labor.

“It’s definitely bittersweet leaving the pool,” Lount said. “However, I, wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.”