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Hays High swimmers headed to state

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Every morning Hays High School senior Derek Drees wakes up and every night he goes to bed, he uses a black Expo marker to write "<22.79" on his bedroom mirror.

He said he started doing this about three weeks ago, and since then, he has "<22.79" written between 40 and 50 times.

Drees does it because he was told by his leadership teacher that it's good to write goals down, and Drees definitely has a goal: He wants to break the school's 50-yard freestyle record.

"I see it every morning I wake up and every night I go to bed to inspire to me to try and beat that record," Drees said.

The pioneer of swimming at Hays High, Les Hauck, set the record of 22.79 seconds in 1994 -- the program's first year and his senior season. He was the first Indian to ever place at state.

The Class 5-4-3-2-1A state swimming and diving championships will be Drees' last opportunity to crack the record. The swimming portion is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka. The preliminaries are Friday and finals are Saturday.

Drees is seeded fifth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.91 -- the highest seeding of any Hays High entrant.

The Indians posted 12 entries this season. Hays High has at least one entry in every event except diving, which the school doesn't offer.

It's tied with 2012 for the most swimmers Hays High has sent to state in the school's history. Prior to 2012, no Hays High team has had 12 entries. Granted, it used to be more difficult to qualify prior to 2010, because 6A was included.

Still, second-year head coach Ann Adams said it was an accomplishment.

"It's truly remarkable, and it's a testimony to how hard they've worked," Adams said. "... We did our part, but it's the guys. The guys are the ones that make it happen."

Drees, a four-year qualifier, was Hays High's lone state placer last year, finishing seventh in the 50 freestyle, and Mathews, a three-year qualifier, came close, placing 11th in the 100 freestyle.

This season, they are the only Indians seeded in the top eight, according to the state pscyh sheet.

Drees is fifth in the 50 freestyle, and Mathews is seeded seventh in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:55.01 and 100 freestyle in 51.57 seconds. The Indians' 400 freestyle relay, which Drees and Mathews are a part of, is seeded seventh with a time of 3:35.52.

Mathews said his goal is to try and place in every event he does.

However, this season already has been an accomplishment for Mathews, who broke the school record in the 200 freestyle and was a part of setting the school record in the 400 freestyle relay.

"As a team, we are doing really good, and overall, we've bonded very well," Mathews said. "I'm just glad my senior year I could end it off this well individually and team-wise."

Drees also qualified in the 100 butterfly, and he is seeded 11th with a time of 59.03 seconds.

Senior Connor Hess, another four-year qualifier, is seeded 23rd in the 200 individual medley and 18th in the 100 backstroke at 1:05.01.

Sophomore Ben Rajewski barely made it in the 500 freestyle -- the lone swimming event Hays High didn't send a qualifier last season. He took the last spot in the 500 freestyle and is seeded 32nd with a time of 6:03.19.

Sophomore Morgan Mathews, a first-year qualifier, is seeded 19th in the 100 butterfly at 1:02.85, and junior Austin Chambers is seeded 16th in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:10.23.

All three relays also qualified. The 200 medley relay is seeded 13th with a 1:52.42, the 200 freestyle relay is seeded 15th with a 1:38.78 and the 400 freestyle relay is seventh at 3:35.52.

However, Adams said the relays' members are still up in there.

All of the individually-qualified swimmers, as well as relay member Cade Sharp, a senior, and senior alternates Steven Vancil and Nick Glassman, are eligible for the relays, but no swimmer can compete in more than four events.

Adams said she hasn't laid out any certain placing or time that she expects from her swimmers.

"My goal for them is to swim their races the best they can and have some fun, because they really deserve it," Adams said.