That’s a fact, Jack

January 27, 2019

ST. JOHN — There are bigger boxes to check off in the coming weeks, but Michigan City’s Jack Smith started his push for the postseason Saturday at Lake Central, where the Wolves senior took the 100-yard backstroke in the Duneland Athletic Conference Championships with a time of 51.43 seconds.

“I’ve always wanted to win a DAC title,” Smith said after touching out Chesterton’s Lucas Piunti by 0.04. “Last year, I was close in the back (second), so I knew I wanted to come out here against guys who are suited and somewhat tapered and see what I can do. It’s a good look toward sectional, seeing people I’m going to see later on, and being able to drop more time.”

The first-place finish is City’s first in the Duneland meet since Tim Schoof in 2016. It’s Schoof’s record that Smith is still chasing.

“I didn’t see where Lucas was, but I saw (Alejandro) Kincaid was,” Smith said. “I didn’t know how close it would be, so I knew I had to push the last 25. I was trying to put it all out there. I try to take a leadership position with the team, to get the guys to swim as fast as they can, to give as much effort as possible. It’s good for them to see someone (win) who they practice with, someone putting in the same work.”

Wolves coach Mel Kovenz said the turn to the last 25 yards was pivotal in Smith’s narrow victory.

“Everybody was up for him. We knew coming in they were gunning for him,” Kovenz said. “He was motivated from last year.”

Jack Smith also took second in the 100 butterfly in 50.89, behind Chesterton’s Andrew Albers (49.92).

“I wasn’t suited up for this meet. We didn’t rest before this meet. We treated it like a regular meet. I was swimming tired,” Smith said. “Chesterton has won this I don’t know how many years in a row, so they’re always suited up, gunning to win the meet. Andrew’s a really good racer. We always go back and forth. It’s a lot of fun to race him. I felt pretty good. There are just some things I need to clean up for sectionals that were a little off. I have to push my last 25s a little harder. I was a little tired.”

The diving board can be a solitary place, so it’s nice to know you have some support on the pool deck.

That’s how it works for the Michigan City duo of Peter Gondeck and Josiah Miller.

“Josiah and I are really good friends,” Gondeck said. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not going to do well. We really keep each other in spirits.”

The Wolves combination shared the awards stand, where Gondeck took third (339.6 points) and Miller sixth (283.6).

“I started off slow, but in the end, I got in a groove and started performing better,” Gondeck said. “I don’t think I performed how I practiced. I practiced a little better. Being in a different place, diving in the afternoon with the noise kind of threw me off. I wasn’t great, I wasn’t terrible, just something in between. Coach (Bruce) Powalski is such a good coach. He sees the potential in us. I’ve only been diving for two yearts, so for him to take a newbie to state in two years, that’s great coaching.”

Elsewhere for City, Alec Marter finished fifth in 50 free (22.21) and sixth in the 100 free (49.77). Connor Baker also made the podium twice with a sixth in the 500 free (5:04.51) and an eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.88). Smith and Marter joined Pavel Ducey and Baker to take fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:42.28).

“We had some pretty good time drops across the board,” Kovenz said. “It’s good to get the experience and wisdom of swimming in a meet like this.”

La Porte was led by Graham Siefker, who posted a massive drop of 3.49 seconds from his seed time to place fifth in the back.

“I really happy with how I did, swimming in such a highly-competitive field,” Siefker said. “I’ve always looked up to Jack (Smith), seeing him break records, for as long as I can remember. It’s been a little rough the whole season with a small team. It was about scoring points, swimming what you can. Recently, we’ve focused in more on our events. I wasn’t thinking about an end result. I looked up at the first 50 and saw that I was looking good. I knew I just had to keep the same energy.”

Niels Gartner also had a signifcant time drop in the 100 breast.

“We had time drops pretty much all the way through,” Slicers coach Austin Butcher said. “That’s really been our whole focus all year. We lost to Merrillville in the dual, so it was nice to be able to finish ahead of them here.”

Chesterton continued its DAC dominance, winning with 513 points. L.C. (387.5) was second with City (236) fifth and LP (101) sixth.

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