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Szczupakiewicz, Muskego shine at state swim

Talented junior wins 500 freestyle

Feb. 18, 2013

Joe Szczupakiewicz made sure that his family's tradition of WIAA Division 1 state swimming championships continued.

In addition, Szczupakiewicz and his Muskego teammates assured that the Warriors' excellent season had an appropriately successful conclusion.

Those were the Warriors' highlights from the Division 1 state meet Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium.

Szczupakiewicz claimed the state crown in the 500-yard freestyle with 4 minutes, 35.93 seconds, which was nearly five seconds ahead of runnerup Andrew Lindstrom of Madison West (4:40.72).

"I knew I had to get a lead," Szczupakiewicz said. "I knew the other guys would start fast, so I had to get off to a good start. I took off faster than normal, and once I took the lead, I didn't look back."

First state crown

This is the first state championship for the junior, whose sister Emma became the first Muskego girl to win a state swimming title when she won the 100 backstroke in 2010.

"It's a huge milestone for me," Joe said, "and hopefully, there are more down the road."

Muskego head coach Larry Milton said he could see Joe's state title coming.

"He was not going to be denied the number-one spot in the 500," Milton said. "Since the start of the high school season, he has set his goal. He had a great swim. I am so glad for his accomplishment. He worked hard to get it."

Szczupakiewicz had earlier placed third in the 200 freestyle with 1:44.04, and Milton said that race set the stage for his winning 500.

"His 200 free set the tone, and he had that glow in his eyes," the coach said.

Szczupakiewicz was not the only Muskego swimmer who enjoyed a fine performance and helped the team tally 156 points for fifth place in the meet.

Junior Jon Roberts captured second in the 100 freestyle with 46.66 seconds and third in the 50 freestyle at 21.31.

"This kid has been a pleasure to watch," Milton said. "He has the ability to create excitement every time or in any event he swims. His third in the 50 and second in the 100 were well-earned."

Senior Patrick Walsh took fourth in the 500 freestyle with 4:41.68 and sixth in the 200 individual medley at 1:55.32.

"He is by far one of the best athletes I have coached in my 39 years of swimming," Milton said. "He is unselfish and all about team. He has participated every year at the state level and is one of the top 12 qualifiers over his high school career."

The 200 medley relay of Szczupakiewicz, sophomore Thomas Stigler, Walsh and Roberts came in fifth with 1:37.47 and the 400 freestyle group of Walsh, senior Allan Prichard, Szczupakiewicz and Roberts finished seventh with 3:13.07.

Stigler was also 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.2), while sophomore Joe Paquette took 15th in the 100 butterfly (54.2) and 18th in the 200 IM (2:00.7).

"Guys like Paquette and Stigler I felt confident about," Milton said. "They are experienced swimmers, and, as sophomores, they were the key to moving up in the standings. These two guys will be the core in the next two years.

"Prichard is our only other senior on the state squad. He will be a hard person to replace and was a secret weapon all during the year."

Warriors dominant

The state meet ended a tremendous season for Muskego which included an unbeaten record in dual meets, four major invitational championships, both relay and conference meet titles in the Classic 8 and a WIAA sectional crown.

"I do not think you can ask for too much more from a team," Milton said.

The Warriors lose seniors Walsh and Prichard but return the rest of the state team.

"I believe we have some nice talent waiting in the wings to help us carry our winning tradition," Milton concluded.

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