There is no better way to cap off a high school career than to win state gold. Red Wing senior William Meacham experienced that first-hand with his first-place swim of 49.76 seconds in the 100 butterfly on Saturday at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. His time was a school record and an All-American consideration.
Even with turning out a school record and finishing first among the state's best swimmers, Meacham remained humble with his achievement.
"My turns were not the best," he said. "I feel like I could have done a little better, but I was really happy with my overall times."
Last year, Meacham narrowly missed out on an opportunity to claim gold as he came in second place by just over three-tenths of a second. As the No. 1 qualifier after prelims, he felt confident in his chances this year. But reaching the 49-second mark was just as sweet.
"I beat our pool time and that was my overall goal for the season," Meacham said. "Reaching 49 (seconds) was a big deal to me. It was just as important as finishing up in first."
Head coach Mikayla Beuch was not surprised by Meacham's finish, as she said it was an accumulation of the season's work.
"What it came down to really was heart," Beuch said. "He did a lot of good things during his race, a few things could have been better, but what did it for him was the desire to beat his goals."
While Meacham felt ecstatic about his season ending the way he envisioned, there was also a hint of somber reality after it was all said and done.
"It's kinda sad since it (swimming) might be over after high school," Meacham added.
His college plans are undetermined, so this could have been the last time he steps into a pool for competition.
Putting the work in
Beuch was overall pleased with the Wingers performance this year at state. The team had a number of goals set at the beginning of the season and they met and exceeded many of those by season's end.
One of those goals meant going all-out at the Section 1A meet to get as many swimmers qualified as possible for state. After going through the ringer of sections and state prelims, Beuch said she was proud of the swimmers for still getting after it during their consolation finals and finals swims.
After the 200-yard medley relay team narrowly missed out on the championship finals by finishing in ninth place during prelims, the team maintained its strength in the consolation finals taking 11th-place with a time of 1:42.22. Ian Johnson opened the swim with a time of 27.37 in the backstroke. Nick Bayley followed up Johnson with a time of 30.34 in the breaststroke, and Meacham and Jayden Jech finished with times of 22.25 and 22.26 in the butterfly and freestyle, respectively.
Jech was put in the consolation finals for the 500-yard freestyle after placing 15th in the prelims with a time of 5:05.46. While he remained in 15th after the consolation finals, he did improve his time to 5:04.00.
Johnson was also in the consolation finals in the 100-yard backstroke and took 14th place with a time of 57.30.
"Jayden and Ian both had strong showings," Beuch said. "Their finals times were a little off from what they wanted, but it's tough coming back for that second day after putting so much energy into the first day."
Red Wing finished 18th in team scores with 37, but the final placing doesn't tell the full story for the team said Beuch.
"Jayden, Ian and Nick all got the benefit of coming back to state again to compete," she said. "They know a little bit more now of what it takes to compete at the highest level and I look forward to seeing what they can accomplish next year."