Three swimmers sign
Three Hastings swimmers signed their national letters of intent to swim collegiately starting in the fall of 2010.
Elliott Wilcox will swim at the University of North Dakota.
Leah Roesler will swim at the University of Wyoming.
And Emily Alitz will swim at the University of South Dakota.
All three are Division I programs.
"They've all decided this is something they really want," Hastings Area Swim Team coach Kim Olson said. "They want to try Division I. They are going to take their shot. They want to give it a whole-hearted effort.
"They know it's going to be hard. It's not like they're going into it thinking, 'Well, I'm fast so I deserve this.'"
Wilcox was all-state in two events last year for Hastings. He placed eighth in the 50 freestyle and seventh in the 100 butterfly.
Wilcox was always known as a big-time swimmer in a little body. That has changed.
"He is definitely bigger and stronger this year than he was last year at this time," Rupp said. "He has put on some mass and has worked really hard over the last year. He was always a little guy - he was short in stature, but showed a lot of heart in his races."
Wilcox has a few big goals this year, including breaking the 16-year-old school record in the 50 freestyle. Jeremy Witikko set the school record of 21.45 seconds. Last season, Wilcox had a time of 22.2, so he's within striking distance, Rupp said.
Wilcox also wants to set the school record in the 100 butterfly.
He won the Zone Championships over the summer in the 50-meter freestyle, a sign he's become one of the best sprinters in the area.
"He trains hard," Rupp said. "The kid has a great work ethic. He probably learned some things from swimming with Phil Seleskie on what it takes to train at that level and excel. I think he learned from an excellent teacher there."
Olson said Wilcox can be even better than he is now. His growth spurt will help, she said.
He excels at the racing, she said.
"If he is in the race, he has the finishing drive," Olson said. "That will to try to win. Not everybody has that."
Leah Roesler just placed sixth in the state in the 100 butterfly and broke a 20-year-old Hastings school record in the process.
The record was held by Staci Bechel, and she set it in 1989.
Roesler had a time of 57 seconds flat at the state meet, her final race as a Hastings swimmer.
"She's one of those kids who has been very quiet her entire career," Rupp said. "She just gets in the water and does her workouts. She's truly one of the nicest kids. She's always positive, always has a smile on her face. She's the kind of kid you want around.
"You like to see a nice kid like her get this kind of achievement."
Roesler swam the anchor leg on all three relays throughout the season.
"Leah is one of those kids who just loves swimming all the time," Olson said. "She's a good kid. She's always a contributing team member. Sometimes, in high school, you don't always have that. She's steady as she goes.
"She just really loves the sport. That's a blessing to have. She wants to be there, she wants to train. She's not looking for ways to get out of it.
"She'll be even stronger in college."
Alitz has been Hastings' No. 1 breaststroker since her sophomore season, and the team's top swimmer in the individual medley since her sophomore season. She swam in two relays and one individual event (the breaststroke) at the state meet this year.
"Without a doubt, she was the hardest worker on the team," Rupp said. "She comes to practice every day and gives 120 percent. She, literally, is laying on the deck after each set. That's how much she gives of herself. As a coach, you love to see that."
Alitz will swim at the University of South Dakota, where her coach will be former Hastings swimmer Jason Mahowald. Sallie Collins, a Hastings graduate, is also on the team in Vermillion, S.D.
Rupp said Alitz hopes to be a podiatrist.
"She's a very smart kid, on the honor roll her entire career," he said. "She is driven to excel."
Olson had words of praise for Alitz, too.
"She has a really good work ethic," Olson said. "She is a hard worker, and she is a team player. She hasn't hit her full potential yet.
"She trains like someone who should be even faster than she is. I've had kids like that who go on to college and they do really well."