By Chris Bennett
On the strength of a handful of key returnees, the Burlington Co-op boys high school swim team is ready for the 2016-17 season.
The Demons competed in their first meet of the season, the Southern Lakes Conference Relays, Thursday at Delavan-Darien High School in Delavan.
BC swims Saturday in an invite at Cudahy High School.
BC is cooperative high school swim team open to boys from Burlington, Burlington Catholic Central, East Troy, Union Grove and Waterford high schools. Burlington High School administers the team.
Burlington went 4-2 in Southern Lakes Conference dual meets last season. Catholic Central’s Bailey Bleser won three events and led BC to a third-place finish Feb. 6 in the Southern Lakes Conference Varsity Swim Meet at Whitewater High School.
Bleser and BC’s 400 freestyle relay advanced to the WIAA Division 1 State Swimming and Diving Championships Feb. 19 & 20 at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison.
Bleser finished 23rd in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:05.63 and swam with Luke Piccione, Conner Krattiger and Luke Herman on BC’s 400 freestyle relay, which finished 24th in 3:28.36.
Piccione, Krattiger and Herman are now graduated.
Five returning letter-winners from Waterford anchor this year’s squad – senior Sam Burazin, junior Graeme Gross and sophomores Ethan Brannen, Payne McCann and EJ Wright.
Union Gove’s Jacob Genal, a senior, and junior Mike Larsen, along with Bleser, round out the Demons’ returning letter-winners.
Coach Chad Hinze said the Demons are breaking in a lot of new faces this season.
“My goal is to always be improving on what we are doing in practice, which will help to improve our overall performance in meets and in conference play,” Hinze said. “I would like to see us find more success, and make it back to the state meet this year.”
Badger is the defending SLC champion, and is a favorite to be strong again this season, along with Burlington Co-op and Elkhorn.
Demons take second without winning event
The Burlington Co-op boys high school swim team did not win a single event and still finished second Dec. 3 in the Packer Invite at Cudahy High School.
The Demons compete Tuesday in a Southern Lakes Conference dual meet at Whitewater, and swim Dec. 13 at home against Jefferson/Cambridge in a SLC dual meet.
BC’s home meets are at the Aurora Burlington Wellness Center. BC consists of swimmers from Burlington, Catholic Central, Union Grove and Waterford high schools.
“With it being this early in the season, we are still trying out some of our younger swimmers, to see who can fit into different roles on our team,” BC coach Chad Hinze said. “I was very pleasantly surprised with Jimmy Keeker’s individual medley performance and with the relay’s performances.”
Keeker, a freshman, finished sixth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:33.61.
Bailey Bleser, Ethan Brannen, Sam Burazin and EJ Wright finished second in the 400 freestyle relay (3:50.87).
Bleser finished second in the 200 freestyle (1:53.25) and 100 freestyle (50.95), and Brannen finished second in the 100 butterfly (1:03.33).
“We also had some great leadership and performances from Bailey Bleser and Ethan Brannen, who are both solid swimmers and are showing a lot of promise again for this season,” Hinze said.
BC scored a team total of 314 points, and finished second to Fond du Lac (380).