Boys’ swimming wins team title at state


Senior Dane Florea swims the 100 meter fly at the Last Chance meet between Rock Bridge, Battle and Hickman High School on Oct. 20. Florea, who competed in the men’s 400 meter individual medley during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials held in Omaha, has made a verbal commitment to the University of Missouri for the 2018-2019 season. Photo by Maya Bell

Ji-Sung Lee

[dropcap style=”flat” size=”4″]W[/dropcap]ith one event remaining, the boys’ swimming and diving team was tied at 203 points with the St. Louis University High (SLUH) Jr. Billikens.  The final event, the 400 meter freestyle relay would determine the Class 2 state champions.  Luckily, senior Zach Lorsen, the anchor of the relay, knew how to compete under pressure.
“What I did for that race was find the medium between emotion and control,” Lorsen said.  “I knew that if I finished first then we would win the meet, so it was quite amazing to win by so much and then to just get to celebrate it with the guys.”
The relay team, consisting of consisting of seniors Dane Florea, Ryan Gilbert, Zach Lorsen and junior Connor Jokerst collectively swam a 3:09.24 to win by more than two seconds. The victory also set a Class 2 Record.  Gilbert said nothing could of psyched him up more than knowing that RBHS’ state title came down to the four relay members.  The team left the meet with 243 points, with SLUH close behind with 237 points.
“Being on the team that just won state feels amazing because unlike my freshman year, I actually contributed to the team score,” junior Braden Hopkins said.  “It was amazing, we were all going crazy when [the 400 meter freestyle relay team] first walked out, but it got even louder as soon as they dove in and got a huge lead.”
Hopkins, who swam in the 100 meter breaststroke, was one of many of other teammates creating a deafening sound in the St. Peters Rec-Plex during that final relay event.
[quote]“ I wouldn’t say it was nerve racking at all actually. We were so excited and pumped up that nerves didn’t matter. We knew what we were capable of, and based on how we swam that race in prelims, we knew we could take the gold,” Gilbert said.  “After Dane finished the first leg with over a body length of lead, the rest of the relay and the team went wild. We knew we had it, all that was left to do is swim as fast as we could to beat our own record. Winning the relay was such an incredible feeling, because we knew that we just brought home a state championship. We felt like a million bucks, we really did. ”[/quote] Having won two state titles in the last three years, Lorsen’s contribution to the team has created enormous success.  In 2015, the last time the Bruins took home the gold, Lorsen was in a similar situation as the anchor in the winning relay.  Despite previous podium finishes, Lorson said the Bruins were not necessarily expected to win.  But going into the meet, he knew that the team was a contender for the title
“Going into the meet we figured we would be in the top three of four with the class split,” head coach Taylor Brisca said.  “We had some awesome competition this year, SLUH and [Lee’s Summit North,] who have swam very well this whole season especially at the invites we were at with them.”
Despite the tough competition, head coach Taylor Birsa knew the boys’ competitive nature would serve them well come post season.
“We would vary the workouts everyday and we did a lot of off the block swims,” Birsa said.  “The boys love to race and I let them during practice.  It really motivates them and is great meet prep.”
Lorsen, who recently committed to swim at Emory University, hopes the success he has been a part of during his high school swimming career will translate into the next collegiate level.
“[Winning a state title] shows that you can accomplish your goals, but each time is different and you learn different things each time,” Lorsen said.  “It feels great winning again and to go out on a high note is awesome.  I was already excited to continue with swimming for next year, but this adds to it.  I can’t wait to swim with my new team.”
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