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INTERCITY SWIMMING MEET

Normal Community captures third straight Intercity Boys Swimming Meet title

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NORMAL — Josh Fujimoto has been around long enough to know winning the Intercity Boys Swimming and Diving Meet title is nice for bragging rights. Yet it's just the beginning for more important things down the road.

"Every week we get better," said the Normal Community senior. "We're all training our hearts out. I'm really excited for how we swim at the end of the season."

JOSH FUJIMOTO 2023 MUGSHOT

Fujimoto

Fujimoto won two individual events, along with teammates Kenneth Wills and Wade Pyle, and was part of two victorious relays as the Ironmen captured their third straight Intercity championship Tuesday at Horton Pool.

NCHS, which won nine of 12 events, totaled 576 points. Normal West was second with 494 points while Central Catholic finished a best-ever third with 340 points, followed by Bloomington (316) and University High (287).

"They're finally bringing it all together and doing what they need to do as a team," said NCHS coach Heather Budak.

KENNETH WILLS 2023 MUGSHOT

Wills

Wills gave Budak credit for arranging her 14 swimmers to be at their best while winning their fourth meet of the season.

"Our coach set a really good lineup for the meet," said the junior. "Everyone was close to their best or at their best, which is good for this part of the season. She did taper us a little bit yesterday (in practice). But even without that taper I think, as a whole, the team would have done just as well as we did today."

Fujimoto took the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1 minute, 44.23 seconds and later added the 100 butterfly (53.40). 

"I was happy with how the 200 free is coming along," he said. "There's room for improvement and it's easy for me to get to that point."

Kenneth Willis 1 012423.JPG

Normal Community's Kenneth Willis won 200-yard individual medley Tuesday during the Intercity Boys Swimming and Diving Meet at Horton Pool.

Wills earned firsts in the 200 individual medley (2:01.30) and 500 freestyle (4:48.24).

"I've dropped 10 seconds from beginning of season (in the 500 freestyle) and I think I'll be able to get even faster from here," said Wills, who hopes to get in the final eight at the state meet at the end of February.

Wade Pyle 1 012423.JPG

Normal Community freshman Wade Pyle starts the 200-yard medley relay on Tuesday during the Intercity Boys Swimming and Diving Meet at Horton Pool. Pyle won that event along with the 50 freestyle and was part of two victorious relays as the Ironmen captured their third straight title.

Pyle is among seven freshmen on NCHS' roster. He admits his older teammates sometimes "give me a little bit hard of a time because I'm a freshman, but it's a lot of fun with them."

There's no doubt Pyle is fitting in quite nicely. He sprinted to the 50 freestyle title (22.69) before taking the 100 backstroke (56.06).

WADE PYLE 2023 MUGSHOT

Pyle

"We're building off each other at practices and always working together and making sure we never get off intervals and making sure we're always staying on the sets and times," he said. "When we're at meets it's about team spirit and making sure we keep it going."

NCHS won all three relays beginning with Wills, Josh Svob, Fujimoto and Kamden Malinowski in the 200 medley relay (1:43.22). Fujimoto, Pyle, Kamden and Caleb Vogel prevailed in the 200 freestyle relay (1:43.22) while Wills, Gabe Nelson, Svob and Pyle concluded the meet by taking the 400 freestyle relay (3:22.43).

Josh Fujimoto 1 012423.JPG

Normal Community's Josh Fujimoto on his way to victory in the 200-yard freestyle Tuesday during the Intercity Boys Swimming and Diving Meet at Horton Pool. NCHS won its third straight title.

Pyle and the other freshmen have given the Ironmen a boost.

"I've not had a class of seven freshmen in a really long time," said Budak, whose team will try to defend its Big 12 Conference title Feb. 4 in Peoria. "This is all new to them. So many meets so often and practicing as often as we do. It's a lot for them. They're just figuring it out now and catching their groove as a team."

Eli Lewis 2 012423.JPG

Bloomington's Eli Lewis dives on Tuesday during the Intercity Boys 2023 Swimming and Diving

BHS' Eli Lewis repeated as the diving champion with 204.4 points. Other winners were West's Skylar Maere in the 100 freestyle (50.34), where he edged out Malinowski by .03, and U High's Matthew Meyer in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.91). 

Contact Jim Benson at (309) 820-3404. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Benson

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