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Dual in the Pool: Beloit Prevails in Tight Big Eight Swim Meet

After winning the Rock County boys swimming championships Jan. 5, Janesville Craig fell to Beloit Memorial on Friday. The meet came down to the wire, but Beloit’s 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams proved too strong for the Cougars. Beloit won 90-80.

Craig posted several first-place finishes and personal best times on parents night.

“Our boys did a great job,” said Craig coach Matthew Palma. “Many of them had personal best times. James Gansen had a great 200 IM (individual medley) and Gabe Barajas dropped almost five seconds in his 200 free.”

The Cougars’ 200 medley relay team opened the meet with a win for Craig. Jack Van Berkum, Jameson Punzel, Ben Witt and Carter Pichler combined to win the race at 1:46.63.

After his win, the meet took a recess to celebrate senior Cougars and recognize the swimmers’ parents. Every swimmer and student-manager delivered a rose to their parents in attendance. After this, each senior took the time to tell their favorite moment from swimming at Craig to the crowd.

After the intermission, the meet resumed in the pool with Beloit winning the next three events.

In the 50 freestyle, Craig’s Van Berkum was barley edged out by Beloit’s Ben Sill. Van Berkum finished the race in second place and was two-tenths of a second away from first.

Craig’s Punzel broke Beloit’s streak with his first-place finish in the the 500 freestyle in a time of 5:14.39.

With the team score tight, the meet came down to the final four races.

Two Beloit foursomes took the top spots in the 200 freestyle relay, but Craig responded with first-place finishes from Witt in the 100 backstroke (56.91) and Punzel in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.58).

Unfortunately for the Cougars, Beloit won the final event of the meet — the 400 freestyle relay — and secured its victory.

“In the end, it was too hard for us to overcome Beloit’s 200 and 400 free relay,” Palma said. “Coach (Dick) Vogel had Beloit ready for this meet. It was his final dual meet after almost 40 years of coaching at Beloit. He has made a big impact on the community of Beloit, and congratulations to him on a long career and for the win tonight. We took a few moments to recognize him at the start of the meet.”

On Jan. 20, the Cougars will return to the pool as the team travels to Madison Memorial.