Although the Princeton High boys’ swimming team produced a season for the ages last winter, going undefeated on the way to the program’s first state Public B title, the squad doesn’t feel like it has a bull’s eye on its back as it gets the 2012-13 campaign underway.
“I don’t think there is any pressure from what we did last year,” said longtime PHS head coach Greg Hand.
“What we did last year has no bearing on this year other than the kids who are back were excited to have been part of something like that. As far as any expectations about what we can or ought to win, they are not there at all. It will be real exciting to see if we can bring home a trophy at counties.”
Hand was excited about the effort his team put in last week as it topped Lawrence 115-55 in an early test. PHS showed its talent and depth in the meet. The team’s trio of junior stars, Will Stange, Colburn Yu, and Peter Kalibat, looked formidable. Stange placed first in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke while Yu won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke and Kalibat was victorious in the 500 freestyle. Senior John Bond added a win in the 200 free.
“In our Lawrence meet last Tuesday we got to swim a strong lineup,” said Hand.
“I am interested to see where we are swimming and how balanced we are. We are well below the power points that we had at the same meet last year.
With the program losing such stars as Victor Honore, Derek Colaizzo, Addison Hebert, Matt Kuhlik, Jacques Bazile, and Harun Filipovic to graduation, seniors John Bond and Daniel Andronov have taken on bigger roles this winter.
“I have known John for four years; he is such a great person and a dedicated athlete,” said Hand, whose team topped Ewing 125-41 last Thursday to improve to 4-0.
“He always gives a great effort but there is no fanfare. He is so unselfish.
I got to know Dan last year; he has really come along. He has gotten comfortable at PHS and is really enjoying his swimming. He is excited about applying to some challenging colleges.”
Hand is excited about having two of his other seniors, Steven and Patrick Schultz, training with the team on a daily basis.
“The Schultz brothers have been swimming throughout high school and before,” said Hand.
“They decided because of the demands of high school academics the best situation for them was to do all their swimming with the school team. They have been adding great value to our workouts. They push themselves and set the tone on the deck.”
PHS’s chances of having another great postseason run will come down to how far junior stars Stange, Yu, and Kalibat can carry the squad. “They are the real center of gravity for us,” asserted Hand.
“Each of them is really committed to swimming and is in the middle of at least five more years of competing in the sport. I wouldn’t put any limits on them. These guys are improving in the sport and they each have an incredible work ethic They love the sport, who knows what they can achieve.”
Hand certainly loves having the chance to deploy the terrific trio. “They are very versatile but each brings special talents,” said Hand.
“We could put them anywhere but when the chips are down we know where to put them and they always come through.”