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Boys swimming: Oregon returns core of state qualifiers | Sports

The Oregon boys swimming team returns three of its four state qualifiers from last season.

Both senior David Stevenson and sophomore Spencer Stluka competed at the Division 1 state meet last season as individuals.

Stevenson finished 15th in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Stluka took 22nd in the 50 freestyle and 23rd in the 100 free. Stevenson and Stluka were both part of Oregon’s 200 free relay team that competed at state. Junior Josh Weber also returns as a member of the state relay squad.

“This trio (Stevenson, Stluka and Weber) can swim multiple events really well and will help fill our dual meet lineups nicely,” Oregon head coach Justin Sawran said. “Spencer is a strong sprint freestyler, but is able to swim any freestyle event well and can put up decent times in any event. David is really great at breaststroke and butterfly, which makes him a good IM’er as well. Josh definitely is more of a sprinter, but was a great butterflier before a back injury two years ago. Josh is looking to swim fly again, and I think he’s motivated to swim other events for the team, knowing he’s one of the ‘go-to’ guys now.”

Sawran noted that Stevenson is very close to a school record in the breaststroke. Stevenson clocked in at 1 minute, 1.54 seconds in the 100 breaststroke at state. Stluka has improved over the summer swimming club and has a chance to break more records this year, according to Sawran.

Although Stevenson had the Panthers’ best state finish last season, Weber returns as Oregon’s most experienced swimmer at the state level as he competed there as a freshman for Edgewood.

Other key returners include seniors Blake Pankratz and Riley Fahey and juniors Mason Konopacki, Oliver Wiedemann, Wil Cram and Jack Nowka. Cram and senior Odin Beck are coming off cross country seasons, which could lead to some early season fitness.

“For all of the guys, they’re growing so much right now that I don’t think there’s a limit to what could happen,” Sawran said. “A lot of guys have incredible potential.”

Freshman Austin Rhodes comes in as a first-year swimmer, but has experience swimming with the Oregon Community Swim Club.

Oregon has its largest team at some time, but it will be hard to know how the newly aligned Badger West will pan out, according to Sawran. Madison Edgewood, Baraboo, McFarland and Sauk Prairie, who are all in the Badger West, typically strong field teams. The Panthers’ Division 1 sectional includes most of the Big Eight schools, making it one of the toughest sectionals in the state.

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