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HHS swimmers host invitational

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Hays High School junior Morgan Mathews was undoubtedly disappointed by his performance in the 100-yard butterfly -- an event typically his to lose -- on Tuesday at the HHS Invitational at the Center for Health Improvement pool.

Then again, when you are as good as he is at the event, it leaves room for experimentation and off nights.

"As the boys say, he wasn't feeling it. But it's all right," Hays High swim coach Ann Adams said. "He qualified for state the first time he swam the 100 butterfly this year. Now it's just trying different things to see what will increase his time so that his standings are a little higher."

Mathews took second in the 100 butterfly on Tuesday in 59.03 seconds, falling just short of the 58.42 seconds swam by Great Bend's Justin Kuhlman.

The time was still faster than the 59.91 seconds it took Mathews in the same event in the season opener at Salina South on Dec. 5, a first-place finish that solidified him a spot in the state meet next month.

But Mathews isn't too worried about state competitions or what other swimmers are doing -- he has other goals in mind.

"My goal for the butterfly is to actually beat the school record and I came very close, not at this meet, but at the meet at Topeka (Jan. 14)," Mathews said. "The school record is like 57 (seconds) and I swam a 58. That's my goal. State is just like a little bonus for me."

Mathews is the brother of Blake Mathews, an accomplished Indian swimmer that graduated last season. The younger Mathews has been the most steady swimmer for Hays High this season, but given his bloodline and the fact he also qualified for state a year ago, his success is hardly a surprise for Adams.

"The surprise for me is he is also doing backstroke this year," Adams said. "That's because he went ahead and opted to join the Hurricanes, the local swim club. So he had been working all fall on other strokes as well as his butterfly. I wont say it's surprised me because he was already state quality anyway."

The work is paying off as Mathews took first place in the 100-yard backstroke on Tuesday in 1 minute, 7.48 seconds, more than a second ahead of second place. Hays High's Boone Pruter (1:13.75) and Ben Rajewski (1:15.42) took third and fourth in the event.

Pruter, a senior, also had a personal best time of 59.38 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, the first time he has been under a minute. Pruter was well off the 54.84 seconds of Hays High's Tommy Consiglio, who won the event.

Consiglio is a senior exchange student from Italy. He competes in pentathlons back home and has proven to be a blessing for an Indian squad that lost seven seniors from last year and had been looking a fourth swimmer for its relay teams when the season started.

"Tommy, who is qualified in the 100 free, there is probably our biggest surprise," Adams said. "Because we could not have possibly predicted that the exchange student from Rome would be such a fast swimmer. And he is willing to try everything.

"It's just not that frequent that somebody arrives in your program and already knows all four strokes. And he's real fast."

Consiglio was part of both the 400 free and 200 medley relay teams -- along with Mathews, Pruter and senior Austin Chambers -- which took first place in both events with times of 3:51.69 and 1:53.95, respectively. Consiglio also took second place in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:25.30.

Chambers was the final first-place swimmer for Hays High, winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:09.58.

As a team the Indians took third out of three teams with a score of 155.5. Great Bend finished first with 170.50 points while Junction City was second with 167.

"I told the guys at the beginning of the season, all these meets are practice. The meet is just like a hard practice, a different kind of practice. I think some of them took that to heart. They've been willing to try different things all throughout the season," Adams said.

"The nice thing about qualifying is you know you're going and everything can be focused on that day, which is kind of our motto for this year. We've really just been trying to focus the guys on that last Friday of the preliminaries for state. That's where or focus is set."