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Through the grinder

January 25, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — During the hours away from school and the pool where Michigan City swim coach Mel Kovenz isn’t outperforming a few of his pupils in the ever-popular video game titled Fortnite on his Apple iPad, the Wolves have been making their homestretch adjustments for the postseason.

“Rest is important here at the end,” Kovenz said at Wednesday’s practice, particularly on the girls’ side of things with the sectional preliminaries just a week away.

“The boys are still going in the mornings because they got a little bit left with the conference meet, but they’re still coming in and working with a couple weeks left. The hope, obviously, is that we can get Jack (Smith) back down to state and continue to drop some of his times, and hopefully, push him through sectionals and continue to see those times fall down at state.”

Smith, a two-time state meet participant down at the giant pool on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is looking forward to the challenge of making it a three-peat in state meet appearances to close his high school career before the jump to Purdue University next season.

“This is what we thrive for,” Smith said on the postseason meets. “We don’t have those Friday night lights every week. We have sectionals and then state. That’s it. That’s all we got. It’s exciting when you get to those big meets and your adreanline’s up while you’re racing. It’s a great feeling because that’s where you see all of that hard work you put in. It’s always good to get to those meets because they always bring the best out of you.”

One of Smith’s goals early in the season was not only getting down to the state meet again in his two individual events, the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke, but to also get one of the boys’ relay teams down to Indianapolis, particularly the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“In our meet at Valpo, we went about 3:23.00, which is about four seconds off our sectional time from a year ago,” Smith said. “To be about four seconds off our time, then with the training that we’re doing now, we’re gonna see that drop quite a bit. I think we have a good shot.”

The second-seeded Wolves a season ago raced to a time of 3:19.33 in the Chesterton Sectional, good enough for second place in the finals.

Smith, along with sophomore Luke Heitmann and senior Alec Adrian, who missed most of last season with a head injury, and senior Alec Marter could be the core four that helps City represent in the biggest meet of the year outside of Smith in his two individual events.

“I think we’re going strong right now,” Adrian said. “Obviously, we all have our own individual little quirks to work around like turns and stuff like that, but other than simple stuff like that, I think we’re pretty darn close to where we need to be.”

Adrian, one of the many Adrians that have come through the pool at Michigan City over the years, including aunt Abigail, who had her 50-yard freestyle school record tied on the dot by senior Sarah Hyska earlier this season (25.27), had a slow start to the year, but just like last season, the senior has seen his work start to pay off during the most important time of the year.

“At the start of the year, I was slow and didn’t drop much time in the beginning,” Adrian said, “but now I’m getting closer to my best times this entire season just from the work we’ve been doing.”

Kovenz was more than complimentary of Adrian, who collapsed due to exhaustion and irregular blood flow throughout his body off a starting block and avoided any further severe damage to his head and face last season.

“He’s really been an unsung hero for us really,” Kovenz said. “He’s always here in the morning working. He’s continuously dropped times and he’s right up there with Jack in terms of leadership and hard work. I’m very proud of him.”

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