February 11, 2014 | 03:46 PMDELAVAN — No one was smiling during warm-ups at the Delavan-Darien High School pool on Saturday morning, Badger head swim coach Glenn Biller said. The boys swim team was serious. The conference championship was on the line.
No one expected them to go undefeated this season, Biller said, himself included.
"I did not expect the boys would have a shot at conference," Biller said.
But the boys had a way of surprising Biller all season.
Every meet, it seemed like one or two swimmers would break out with a performance Biller didn't know they were capable of, he said.
The Delavan pool was packed. Energy was high. Biller saw that his team was tightly wound.
"I had to pull one of the captains out and tell him, 'You need to lighten the mood and get these guys laughing a little bit,'" Biller said. "Because sometimes you can get over-amped and just shoot yourself in the foot."
The swim team hadn't lost a conference dual all season.
After taking second place in the conference relays on Dec. 5 — just 1 point behind Elkhorn — Biller said the team was surprised to learn they had the potential to defeat every team in their conference.
"After the relay meet … we said, 'Hey, we have a shot at this,'" Biller said. "We really didn't think we would coming into the year. We had no expectations, but we saw that was possible."
The team hasn't taken its eyes off the conference championship since, Biller said.
"It was very intense," Biller said of Saturday's meet. "The stands were just packed ... Delavan, it's kind of an enclosed pool and the crowd is right on top of the pool … it got really loud."
Swimmers had taken turns busting out unexpected and impressive performances all season Biller said, and at the conference meet, it was Andrew Shane that surprised Biller the most.
"He took first place in the 50- and 100-(meter freestyle) and just blew their socks off," Biller said. "Which was amazing."
Badger won the meet with 461 points. Platteville took second and scored 380. Elkhorn was third with 330.
Points are awarded differently at conference meets for each event, Biller said. Some events are worth more than they are in dual meets, which creates opportunities for teams with strong swimmers in those events to pad their overall score.
"So we weren't sure how that would play out," Biller said. "But (the boys) got in there right away and just started to execute … everything worked out really sweet."
Biller has been coaching boys and girls high school swim teams for 17 years, he said, and this is the first season in his career where both the boys and girls teams he coached won conference championships.
The Badger girls team won on Nov. 2.
"I've never won and gone undefeated in the same year with girls and boys," Biller said. "So, the program's going great. But where do you go from here?"
Since Badger has established itself as a top program in the Southern Lakes conference, Biller said he is now working on figuring out a way to consistently compete at the state level.
But for now, with the boys approaching state sectionals on Saturday, Feb. 15, Biller said he's trying to keep the team relaxed.
"From here on out, we're just looking for that icing on the cake, and put the cherry on top," Biller said. "The mood this week is, they're going to keep it light, let's have fun. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let's just get it out there and let it rip."
Biller said staying loose before a big meet is essential.
"It's really important," Biller said. "You can definitely get over-amped at these meets and all the sudden you have no idea why you swam 10-seconds slower than you usually do; it's because you're just too juiced-up."
At press time the time and location of the sectional meet were unavailable. Please check for updates through Facebook.com/regionalnewssportscheck or follow @LGRN_Sports on Twitter.
"Early in the year our focus was trying to win this conference and make a memory and hang a banner," Biller said. "So we'll see who surprises me this week, and maybe they all will. But we're going to have fun. We already finished on a good note, we're just going to finish on a great note now."