Streamlining into history


Tiffany Skaggs

Jake Haefner (11) walks through the state send-off gauntlet, Nov. 6.

The boys swim team has made EHS history with an 11-1 record and winning conference for the first time.

“This season has been the best season ever in Eureka swimming and diving history, and it’s ascending on an absolutely fabulous note,” Coach Sharon Wasson, head coach, said. “Winning conference was probably the highlight of my coaching years here at Eureka. It came down to the last event, which we won. It was beautiful and perfect.”

The 400-free relay of Justin King (12), Jake Haefner (11), Brendan Harris (12) and Tommy Lombardo (11) finished out the meet, helping to make the Aquacats conference champs.

“Winning conference was probably my favorite moment from this season,” Lombardo said. “Even though I’ve been to junior nationals and sectionals, conference was just the most hyped up,  loudest meet I’ve ever been to. The excitement of when it came down to that last relay and we were a point and-a-half in front of Marquette… it was just crazy.”

Out of 11 conference swimming events, EHS won nine of them against seven other teams.

“The coach of the person who wins the event gets to hand out the medals for that event, so I handed them out nine times. I was shaking and crying, not going to lie,” Coach Wasson said. “I was so proud of them. You couldn’t write a better script than our conference meet.”

Some other notable finishes for the team:

  • Winning the Summit Invitational, placing 4th of 32 at the Columbia, MO Invitational, which is a highly elite meet, according to Coach Wasson
  • Beating Lafayette in a dual meet for the third straight year.
  • Five school records broken: the 200-medley relay of Harris, King, Lombardo and Mason Jung (11), the 400-free relay of King, Haefner, Harris and Lombardo, the 500-free by Lombardo, the 50-free by Jung and the 100-free by King.

“Beating school records feels pretty good knowing that the hard word pays off in the pool,” King said. “I realized that having records are cool, but I want to see them broken because that’s what records are meant to be: broken.”

Strategizing as a team played a big role in their breakout season.

“They’ve had victories with how they’ve strategized. It’s a group effort. It’s not just me telling them what to do, but it’s everybody working together. That’s’ the key,” Coach Wasson said. “I’ve always coached this way. I think strategizing has been the most crucial thing that has made this a successful season.”

Beyond working together the boys also work hard.

“Although they have a lot of fun, they take it seriously,” Carly Burner, swim manager, said. “They want to win, they want to be better and they work really hard. They come in on Saturdays and to every morning practice.”

The hard work the boys put in together bound them together.

“The unity. So many times I hear them say ‘I love this team’ or ‘I love everyone like my family.’ A lot of them say that all the time,” Coach Wasson said. “This group of boys are like my children, an extended family. They’re probably one of finest groups of young men I’ve had the opportunity to work with even though they’re crazy.”

With 22 years coaching at EHS, Coach Wasson has had a lot of experience to help drive this team to success.

“Coach Wasson’s definitely a mentor of mine. I look up to her a lot,” Jung said. “She’s a great coach one of the better coaches I’ve ever had in my life. I usually take all the advice she gives me, putting it into the pool and performing.”

Wrapping up their season, the team finished sixth out of 44 schools at state this past weekend, Nov. 6-7.

EHS was the top finishing team from the St. Louis area.

In addition to placing sixth as a team, the 400-free relay team placed 2nd (out of 16) in the event.

“It was awesome placing second in the relay because we’ve been thinking about placing top three since freshman year. Standing up on the podium was great knowing we finally did it and finally got to where we wanted to be,” Haefner said. “It was nice to finally have that goal achieved. It was really exciting to get 6th overall because we’ve never done that well before.”

Coach Wasson’s pending retirement makes the successful season even more special.

“It’s my last season. Every day is special when it’s your last one,” Coach Wasson said. “You’re excited about the fact you’re going to start a new chapter, but you’re really sad to leave one behind. It’s emotional. I love these boys. I’ve nurtured a good many of them for four years. It’s safe to say the banquet is going to be a cry fest.”