GOLDEN BOYS! LSA Boys Swim Win Second Title in Three Years
When Lutheran South Academy hit the water this year, there was a little extra fire behind every stroke, dive and turn the Pioneers made in the poll in 2022.
The group was not just determined but destined to be great. In the end, not standing atop the podium holding the TAPPS 5A State Championship trophy was not an option. In the end, they got it, claiming the TAPPS 5A State Championship in boys swimming for the second time in three seasons, joining the 2020 squad.
VYPE caught up with coach Jarod Hiillegeist to get The 411 on this squad.
VYPE: To fall short last year and come back and win it all in 2022, did that fuel you all?
HILLEGEIST: Oh, definitely. When they first won State, those boys wanted to win it back-to-back. When they couldn’t get that, they felt a little cheated. So, with the way things were they wanted to come back even better the next year. They wanted it so bad because they knew this was their last chance.
VYPE: What was different about their demeanor and how they carried themselves this year compared to last?
HILLEGEIST: They had a lot of confidence this year. Last year with COVID going on, it was a lot of ‘what’s going to happen with the meet?’. A lot of that threw them off but when they got to be all together and have that team atmosphere it gave them a ton of confidence and energy. They brought it this year.
VYPE: I heard that Luke LeBlanc gave a fired-up speech prior to the State Meet. What does that tell you about LeBlanc as a leader?
HILLEGEIST: Luke is very competitive. So, when he went to the locker room, he told them it does matter what we get. ‘I want to win’. Those boys loved that competitive nature. They got excited. He played football and baseball, so he’s around a lot of those more intense sports team-wise. A lot of people don’t view swimming as a ‘team sport’ and Luke really brought the energy to make it feel that way. Hearing him do that made me feel really good about me having him be a team captain.
VYPE: Chase Ferguson caps an amazing career at LSA, what was it like to watch him do that?
HILLEGEIST: I was lucky enough to coach him from his freshman to senior year. Year-in and year-out he has grown so much. Seeing him going into State, he was like a seasoned veteran. He had a lot of confidence, knew what he wanted to do and he swam exactly how the boys needed him to.
VYPE: Talk me through all the celebration, you being doused by water and shaving your head?
HILLEGEIST: I [saw it coming], they did that to me their sophomore year without me expecting it. I’m big into my shoes, so I told them they need to warn me, and they did. Early in the season, I also made a bet with them for extra motivation that if they won State, I’d let them shave my head at the meet. So, right before we got on the bus, I pulled out a razor and they shaved my head. They loved that. It was a ton of fun for to watch them have that much fun.