Luke Kobza

Luke Kobza leads the way during the 500 freestyle race on Friday night. Kobza's time of 4:58.95 earned him a conference championship in the race; one of two first-place finishes for the Warriors on the night.

Heading into Friday’s Badger North Conference Meet, the Waunakee boys’ swim team knew they had a tall task in front of them.

In order to unseat the defending champion Eagles of Sauk Prairie, the Warriors would need a near-flawless performance.

“Sauk definitely had the depth, and we didn’t maybe have that as much,” said Waunakee’s Luke Kobza. “I’m proud of how we still kept up with them pretty well.”

Though the Warriors were unable to best Sauk Prairie, Waunakee’s strong performance – with 10 top-three finishes on the night – contributed to a second-place finish of 422 points.

Badger North Conference Meet

Leading the way for the Warriors was Kobza; the junior was a part of two championship-winning swims. The first came in the 500 freestyle, where his finish of 4:58.95 bested teammate Paul Busse – who finished second in 5:04.75 – by nearly six seconds.

“I feel great…” Kobza said after the meet. “Personally, I was just trying to stay calm, trying not to get hyped up and waste energy.”

Waunakee’s second victory came in the meet’s final event: the 400 freestyle relay. Waunakee’s quartet of Kobza, Busse, Sean Shrader and Zach Vinson bested the competition by over four seconds to win in a time of 3:23.54.

Busse secured one more second-place individual finish in the 200 individual medley, touching the wall in 2:06.65. Vinson also posted two second-place finishes; he posted a time of 54.33 in the 100 butterfly and 58.55 in the 100 backstroke.

Kobza posted the final individual second-place placement in the 200 freestyle, finishing with a time of 1:54.08.

Waunakee’s relay team of Vinson, Nolan Wallace, Kobza and Busse also kicked off the meet with top-two finish in the 200 medley relay, touching the wall in 1:41.32.

Rounding out the top-three finishes were Wallace and Shrader. Wallace finished in third in the 50 freestyle (23.66), while Shrader took third in the 100 backstroke (58.55).

“I’m really happy; it’s always a little nerve-wracking once it gets down to this point in the season, trying to keep everybody going in the right direction…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Heather Frank. “Keeping everybody going in the right direction is tough to do. I’m really proud of how they all swam; they were excited.”

After dropping dual meets against both Sauk Prairie and McFarland, Waunakee’s runner-up finish marks a jump in the conference standings.

“We’ve talked about how we’ve got a chance to move up in our conference, so let’s give it what we’ve got today,” added Frank. “They swam really well; I’m proud of them.”

The Warriors now have a week to prepare for their next competition, where the stakes will be raised even further. Waunakee will travel to Middleton on Saturday, Feb. 15 with spots at the WIAA State Meet on the line.

“Stay calm,” Kobza said of Waunakee’s mentality heading into their sectional meet. “Work hard; stay focused.”

Start time at Middleton High School is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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