BYRON – As successful
as Dixon’s Caleb
Carlson was on Saturday at the Class 2A Byron Sectional, one might look at the results and think the Dukes had their own team.
The junior earned a trip to the state meet in all four races he competed in at sectionals. He won the 200 IM and 100-yard breaststroke individual events, and swam in the Byron co-op’s first-place finishes in the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay.
“Caleb is going to be a busy guy [at state],” Byron coach McKenna Kurth said. “He loves to race more than anything, and you saw that today. He thrives on racing, and loves to catch people.”
The highlight of Carlson’s day came in the 200 free relay. With Byron trailing Hononegah by several yards, Carlson dove into the pool as the Tigers’ anchor. By the turn, Carlson had caught up to the Indians’ Camden
Leonard, and he turned on the jets in the final 25 yards. Carlson helped Byron tie a pool record with a time of
1:28.25 thanks to his 20.13-second leg, the fastest by any swimmer in the event by 2 whole seconds.
“The reason I anchor is to bring us back,” Carlson said. “I have so much adrenaline, and I have to catch them.”
“After the race, he said it wasn’t the 19 [seconds] he wanted,” Kurth said. “He’s always pushing himself to be better.”
Carlson went first in the Tigers’ 200-yard medley relay to start the swimming events, and set the pace for Byron’s sectional title in the event with a leg of 23.49 seconds. AFC’s Wade Lyles went second in the relay for the Tigers, swimming the breaststroke, as they posted a sectional championship time of 1:38.24.
“He was really riding on top of the water well,” Kurth said Lyles, a junior from AFC. “I’m definitely proud of how far he’s come this season.”
“It’s really great to represent everyone in my community right now,” Lyles said. “I know a lot of people are supporting me, like friends and teachers. All I expect is to try my hardest and get faster. Maybe someday I’ll make it to state on my own.”
Carlson went on to win the sectional title in his best event, the 200 IM, with a time of 1:55.14, 4 seconds clear of the state qualifying time. He placed third in state last year in the event, and said he’s gunning for the top spot.
For good measure, Carlson capped his day with a pool and sectional record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 57.56 seconds.
Carlson will do a 1-week taper and drop the yardage down during training to prep his body to compete in a quartet of events in Winnetka next Friday and Saturday. If he’s running on fumes, he’ll have an extra boost from being the lone representative for Dixon at state.
“I’m pumped. Rest will be pretty important, but I’ll be ready,” Carlson said. “A lot of people know me around the school because of last year. They’re rooting for me. It’s nice to have people backing me.”
Sterling finished fifth in the team standings Saturday, but did not advance a relay team or individual to state. Still, it is progress for a relatively young program that is starting to gain momentum.
“We swam fantastic,” Sterling coach Kyle Ruiz said. “We had lifetime best times, and by a
lot. That’s what we
were judging. We were excellent.”
Freshman Jack Wike turned in a 5:02.52 time in the 500-yard freestyle, good for fourth, and he placed sixth overall in the 200-yard freestyle with a first-place heat time of 1:52.87.
“This is a high-pressure situation, and he performed,” Ruiz said of the year-round swimmer. “His future and the rest of the team’s future is very bright.”
Junior Zach Wade took home third place in the 100-yard butterfly with a personal record of 54.82, and swam the 100-yard backstroke in 56.67, good for fourth.
Senior Turner Morse ended his career for the Warriors’ swimming team with two finishes in the top six. His time of 23.26 in the lightning quick 50-yard freestyle helped him to sixth place, while his 50.62 mark in the 100-yard freestyle earned him fifth.
Morse is one of eight seniors for Sterling, and part of a group that has been improving every year.
“We had a great a great group of seniors,” Ruiz said. “They led by example in the pool and the classroom. We’ll miss them. I’d like to think we send them on as better people because of them being on the swim team, and they leave us better from what they gave us.”
Star of the meet: Caleb Carlson, Byron co-op, won 200 IM & 100 breaststroke, swam lgs on winning 200 medley & 200 freestyle relays
Up next: IHSA State Meet, Friday & Saturday, at New Trier High School, Winnetka