Winona swimmers Jack Herczeg, Alex Jorgenson, Griffin Wolner and Grant Wolner had a standout state tournament, with nominations for All-American.
by BEN MCLEOD
The combined Winona Senior High School (WSHS)/Cotter swim and dive team made an big splash at the Minnesota High School League Class A meet late last week in the University of Minnesota Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Winona finished second overall in the state with 224 points, 19 over St. Thomas Academy, their closest follower, but WSHS’ Griffin Wolner made a particularly significant showing. Wolner, a senior, took first in the 200-yard freestyle for the second year running, and competed in both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, where Winona also took first-place honors. But the success in the relays is a testament to the strength and reserves of the team overall, rather than a single swimmer.
The WSHS/Cotter team placed a number of swimmers onto the rolls at this year’s state meet, including Griffin’s brother, sophomore Grant Wolner, who took third in 200-yard IM and third in the 100-yard backstroke. Sophomore Jack Herczeg was first in the 100-yard freestyle, and also took third in the 50-yard freestyle. And the Wolner brothers joined Herczeg and sophomore Tanner Lozenski to top out both the 200- and 400-yard relay. In the dive segment, senior Sam Serleth took section Diver of the Year with 374.4 in the one-meter dive.
Both the 200 and 400 relay teams have been submitted for the All-American Award in national swimming at the high school level. If it is determined that either team has performed in the top 100 nationally, they will be notified in May or June.
Griffin Wolner plans to swim in college, although he hasn’t made a decision yet about what school he will attend. Even with the finals over, the team is still focused on practice. It takes an intensity and dedication to stay in condition, and college is a question for the future. The sophomores on the team aren’t worried about their collegiate careers just yet. Rebuilding the relay team and preparing for next season is what is on their minds. They have had a season to bond, to train, to do a whole-team Speedo run through the Cotter gymnasium, and to appear as a team at the state championship. Sophomore Alex Jorgenson said, “We are well bonded. It’s a good group of guys all around.”
The official season is over, but the team is still in the water, always training. Summer is their second-most crucial season for training, and it’s also when the team makes a switch to the format used in the Olympics, a format practiced by most other teams around the world. And this weekend, swimmers over the age of 15 from around Minnesota will be gathering at the Eden Prairie Community Center for the Minnesota Swimming Senior State meet, a non-conference event.
While the graduation of the senior Wolner will be a noticeable loss for the team, the presence of a crew of accomplished sophomores with two years remaining to compete for Winona should lead to good things next year, and another chance for the team to bond, hopefully at the state level.