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Poised for a championship run

December 20, 2012
By Todd VanderLoop of Stevens Point Area Senior High

Poised for a championship run

SPASH positioned to unseat Lumberjacks as Valley champions



Corey Sturm
Corey Sturm
Joel Harris


Joel Harris and Corey Sturm feel the time has come to reclaim something that has been missing since 2002.

Anything less than a Wisconsin Valley Conference championship will be unacceptable for the senior captains of the Stevens Point Area Senior High boys swimming team.

And in order to make that happen, the Panthers are going to have to go through seven-time defending Valley champion Wausau East.

Sturm and Harris have been part of a program which has been building toward that lofty achievement since both of them were freshman on the varsity.

“The only way this season will be a success is if we beat East in the dual meet (Jan. 10). We have to beat them one-on-one,” said Sturm, pulling no punches. “Our talent has continued to improve and we have the depth to carry us.”

There has been no questioning the work ethic of every member of the team to make the ultimate goal come true.

They’ve been waking up early all those days for 5 a.m. practices and returning to the pool to train for another couple hours after classes.

All of that was done with one thing in mind — wrestling the Valley championship trophy away from the Lumberjacks.

However, Harris made it clear winning the conference championship wouldn’t just be about the current members of the team.

“Me and Corey are four-year seniors, so it would mean the world to us and the guys who were there when we were freshmen,” Harris said. “We would come to the realization of seeing our hard work pay off and validate what coach Bob (Allen) preaches.

“Nobody wants to be co-champions. We want to be No. 1. We want it outright and undisputed.”

There is no disputing the Panthers have their share of talent up and down the lineup, and have every discipline — freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke — covered and then some.

Harris can makes waves in the freestyle middle distance and breaststroke events, while Sturm has made the backstroke his specialty throughout his career.

But what separates this Panthers team from some in the recent past is the versatility individuals such as Ryan Neigbauer, Tyler Tanko, Daniel Roberts, Aaron Bink, Ben Harris, Tom Negaard and Willie Rosenthal bring to the pool.

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