RI swimmers dominate to win Panther Invitational

Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2013, 8:27 pm
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By Chris Steele, chrissteele@qconline.com
At the end of the Panther Invitational last season, the Rock Island boys' swim team did not want to touch their third-place trophy.

They wanted more.

By the end of Saturday's 32nd annual Panther Invitational, Rocky's swimmers could hold their first-place trophy high.

Rock Island put together a dominate performance, winning seven of the invite's 12 events, and earning 262 points over runner-up Normal Community (192.5).

Moline finished fifth (161), and United Township (142) was sixth in the the 11-team field.

After finishing runner-up at the Freeport Invitational and a third-place finish at the Burlington Invitational, Rocky was looking for a statement performance.

Top to bottom, Rocky's swimmers came through to earn their first win at the Panther Invite since 2002.

Daniel Rodriguez won the 50-yard freestyle (22.58). The senior has witnessed a dramatic change of direction.

"We want to continue to build the program as much as we can," Rodriguez said. "During my sophomore and freshmen years, it wasn't as big, but these past two years we have started to show up. We can show the state of Illinois that we can produce."

Sophomores Josh Fleming and George Pappas have contributed to Rock Island's rise.

Fleming was a double winner in the 500 freestyle (5:00.35) and 200 free (1:48.13), setting a conference-best mark in the 200 free.

"Rocky is here to stay at the top for a long time," Fleming said. "I know my sophomore classmate George and I are not going to let our team down. We have a really talented freshmen class, and I'm really fortunate I get to swim with them in practice because they are the best the Quad-Cities has to offer. I'm thankful to swim with them and create some good friendships along the way."

Touching first in the 200 individual medley (2:02.21), and the 100 butterfly (54.57), Pappas has established himself as one of the best in the conference.

But Rock Island isn't looking to get complacent.

"I really wasn't satisfied with my performance last week at the Burligton Invite," Pappas said. "Our team overall wasn't satisfied either, but we knew that we had in hard at the Panther Invite to get the win."

The Maroons put together an impressive relay performance with Alec Michna, Michael Vershaw, Matt Roche, and Fermann Flowers winning the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.15).

The Maroons' Roche has battled back from a knee injury to rejoin the team.

While Roche's knee is not yet able to kick to the degree that allows him to swim his signature event, the 100 breaststroke, his strong upper body has allows him to contribute to Moline's relays.

United Township's Jordan Witherspoon (322.60) finished runner-up in the one-meter diving to Normal Community's Ben Davis (351.60).

Rock Island's Mitchell Zagardo landed third (297.50), and UT's Mark Cervantes (282.50) finished fourth in his first time competing in the 11-dive format.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)