HHS swimmers headed to state
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Hays High School senior Tommy Consiglio was given three days warning before he was expected to have his bags packed and fly half way around the world to a place in the middle of the United States he had never heard of.
Consiglio, from Rome, Italy, arrived in the U.S. on Aug. 21 to begin a nine-month journey as an international exchange student in Hays. He admitted to knowing nothing about Kansas before his arrival.
"Kansas is way different from Rome, so it's pretty interesting to me," Consiglio said. "I came here first of all to learn English and improve my language. And also because my brother did this and he said it's a very good experience and also because it's a totally different culture, a totally different country."
Back in Italy, Consiglio is an active pentathlete. Pentathlons are comprised of five different activities, namely swimming, cross-country running, target shooting, fencing and equestrian events.
So for Consiglio, it was a goal of his to at least join the Hays High swim team while in the U.S.
"Of the five sports, swimming was always my favorite sport. I like water. I like the swimming pool. That's why one thing I wanted to do in Hays was enjoy swimming," Consiglio said. "It's been a very good experience. At first I wasn't on a sports team in the first semester and it was kind of harder for me. But then I got onto the swimming team and having teammates it was a lot easier to make friends."
As it turned out, Consiglio is good at swimming. The Indians graduated seven seniors from last year's team and didn't know where they would get their fourth relay swimmer from this season. Enter Consiglio, who has proved to be the missing piece to that puzzle.
Hays High heads to the Class 5-4-3-2-1A state swim meet in Topeka today and tomorrow at the Capitol Federal Natatorium where Consiglio is qualified to compete in both the 100 and 200 freestyle, as well as the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay. And according to Hays High swim coach Ann Adams, he has a good chance to finish in the top eight and medal.
"He is a born competitor. As far as technique he has been a real joy to work with," Adams said. "It's not like he came here as a finished product, but there is a lot of talent there, undeniably. But again, a very good work ethic and that is paying off for him and for us."
Joining Consiglio at state is senior Austin Chambers in the 100 breaststroke and junior Morgan Mathews in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Senior Boone Pruter has consideration in the 50 free, and all three of Hays High's relay teams are state qualified.
The Indians also have three to four other swimmers going as alternates.
Chambers has come on strong in the breaststroke, an event he just picked up last season, making it to state in the event a year ago.
"I really wasn't able to do it my freshman or sophomore year because I had really bad knee problems," Chambers said, "but was able to do it my junior year and finally got a groove for it and started to be the only person that could do breaststroke because we lost our guys in the past when I was an underclassman."
Chambers is also part of the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams with Consiglio, Mathews and Pruter. Hays High is also qualified in the 400 free relay, an event it plans to use its alternates in. Swimmers are limited to competing in a total of four events, so with Mathews and Consiglio both competing in two individual events, it will allow other swimmers to get the experience of competing at state.
"I have two, maybe three guys that are going to swim that last relay at state who wouldn't otherwise get a chance to," Adams said. "It's a good team builder, a good program builder for next year so I have more people with some experience of what it's like to swim at state."
The finals portion of the state swim meet will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. in Topeka.