Hononegah swimmer

Elena Kitzman has been a top contributor for Hononegah’s swimming squad this season.

ROCKTON—The Hononegah swimming team had no idea what to expect when the season began in earnest back in August.

How about an undefeated NIC-10 season and the school’s first-ever conference title?

The Indians capped their unblemished campaign with a victory over Boylan Wednesday afternoon. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no traditional post-season conference meet to determine the champion.

Instead, it was decided by final records in the dual meets, and coach Brian McGuire said he had to approach this season different from a strategic standpoint.

“I’m like (Beloit Memorial) coach Vogel in that usually I like to swim different kids in different events and switch it up a lot during the season,” McGuire said. “But with the way the conference was structured this year, I couldn’t do that. Every meet counted, so we tried to get ourselves in the best position to win every meet.”

Senior Elena Kitzman was a tremendous part of the Indians’ success throughout the season, and capped it by being a three-time winner Wednesday against the Titans.

“This definitely isn’t the senior year that I imagined having, but it’s been really good,” Kitzman said. “It was really exciting with it coming down to the final meet. We are all really grateful just to even have a season, so to cap it off like we did was great.”

McGuire said the team has been impressive despite dealing with adversity throughout the year.

“The virus definitely impacted us at times,” McGuire said. “But it never really piled up on us. Some other teams, they got hit really hard so we were fortunate in that aspect. But our practice times were cut pretty dramatically because we had to spread everyone out. For some kids it was a cut of about 40 percent of the work they normally get. So we could’ve been swimming much faster times, but for what we were able to do, I was really happy.”

Kitzman said the lesser work wasn’t always a bad thing.

“Normally at the end of the year we are all just dead tired,” Kitzman said. “But this year, I still feel fresh and ready to go. But overall, I definitely recognize that we didn’t have that same endurance that we’ve had in the past. And with the meets being structured the way they were, you didn’t learn as much from those as you usually would”

McGuire’s squad received a terrific year from its senior core members, which included {span}Maclaryn {/span}{span}Leonard{/span}{span}, Kitzman, Brooke Davenport and Finley Hamilton. {/span}

{span}”Maclaryn is great because she can swim anything,” McGuire said. “She just kind of falls in where we need her to. Brooke and Finley are in the same boat. I can slot them in and they are going to score for us and maybe even sneak out a second place. They do the heavy lifting for us. And then we have Gracie Colvin (two-time winner Wednesday) who has been great for us along with Elena all year.”{/span}

{span}Next up for the Indians will be the IHSA sectional meet, to be held Sat., Oct 24 in Byron. {/span}

“I’m calling it a culminating IHSA event,” McGuire said. “I call it that because there’s really not much to it. There’s nothing coming after it. It’s the NIC-10 schools, plus Byron, who will be the favorite, and then a couple of smaller schools. We could set the world on fire in that meet and that would still be all there was. It’s going to be odd because there are no relays and it’s going to go really fast. We are preparing our kids now knowing that it’s going to be tough, because some of these schools didn’t have to deal with the issues that we did.”