A year ago, the Rock Island High School boys swim team won its first sectional team title in 21 years to cap a resurgent season.
But this season's task of following up success was looming just as large -- finding a way to sustain a high level of consistency was not going to be easy.
To Rock Island sophomore swimmer George Pappas, the solution to what keeps his teammates wanting more is simple.
"We just want to be a part of something big at Rocky," Pappas said. "Making sure that we are doing the best we can is where our drive comes from."
This week's Metro Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Pappashas been instrumental in Rocky's rise to the top.
Behind Pappas and a solid lineup, the Rocks last weekend swam to the school's first win at the United Township Panther Invite since 2002. Pappastouched firstin the200 individual medley (2:02.21) and the 100 butterfly (54.57).
"The win at the Panther Invite was a message that we are here to stay," Pappas said.
At an early age, Pappas couldn't pick a favorite stroke and gravitated toward the 200 individual medley which combines the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.
It makes sense that Pappas has a fondness for such versatility. He holds five of the top times among Western Big 6 Conference swimmers in a varied array of events -- 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and 200 individual medley.
At the Rockford Boylan Invitational, Pappas won the sophomore high points title edging out several talented swimmers from around the state, including classmate Josh Fleming.
While the promise of Rock Island's underclassmen is tantalizing, Pappas ismindful that Rock Island'sturnaround is a team effort.
"We all contribute," Pappas said. "We areall working hard, andwe couldn't have had a win like the PantherInvite if we were withoutany of theclasses."
Rocky's ultimate goal is to repeat as sectional champions. A new wrinkle was thrown in that plan, though, with the addition ofDunlap to the field. The Eagles finished third atthe competitive Normal Community Sectional last season.
Pappas is looking atDunlap being in the field not as a detriment, but more of a challengetoprove that Rock Island's name should be held in high standing around the state.
"I feel like a few other schools recognize us," Pappas said, "but they still don't think that much of us. We still need to prove ourselves to them."
Looking ahead, Pappas wants to prove that he canbe abig part of Rocky swimhistory.
"We aretrying be one of the top teams at state by my senior year," Pappas said, "and take down some records by the time we are through high school."
Favorite event: 200 Individual medley Favorite place to swim: Rocky Pool, University of Iowa Pool, University of Missouri Pool. Favorite class: Psychology II with Mr. Dyer Favorite music: Kid Cudi Favorite food: Steak and mashed potatoes Favorite movie: "Pulp Fiction" Favorite athlete: Ryan Lochte Parents: Matt Pappas and Laura Dunn-Wriedt, Rock Island
In the Running Brandon Mizlo, Geneseo: Won the 182-pound title at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet. Josh Fleming, RI: Swam to wins in the 500 yard freestyle (5:00.35) and 200 free (1:48.13, a conference best) at the Panther Invitational Saturday. Anne Bohnert, Alleman: Made the game winning 3-pointer against Moline to give the Pioneers their first Western Big 6 win 35-32. Bohnert scored 22 points in Alleman's 57-43 win against Peoria Notre Dame at the Galesburg MLK Tournament. Carlee Hoover, Rock Island: Kept Rock Island perfect in conference scoring eight of her game high 14 points in the fourth quarter in Rocky's 61-44 win over United Township. Sean Wetherell, Alleman: Captured 170-pound title at the Bob Mitton-Orion Invitational, earning most outstanding wrestler honors for the upper weights. Kayla Crawford, United Township: Rolled a series of 1137 for a 23rd place finish at the Rockford Viking Invitational which includes some of the state of Illinois elite bowlers.
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 11, the 345th day of 2013. There are 20 days left in the year. 1863 — 150 years ago: The message of Abraham Lincoln, read in congress yesterday, is published in full in our paper today, with a new proclamation relating the terms upon which states can return to the union. 1888 — 125 years ago: An appropriation has been made by congress for the improvement of the upper Mississippi River with $200,000 set aside for the portion of the river between Keokuk and the mouth of the Illinois River. 1913 — 100 years ago: Work of remodeling First Swedish Lutheran Church at 4th Avenue and 14th Street was nearly completed. 1938 — 75 years ago: An unexplained outbreak of tularemia (rabbit fever) in the state has Illinois public health officials puzzled. Ten persons have died, and 243 are officially reported ill with the infection. 1963 — 50 years ago: A dramatic, multi-million dollar riverfront improvement project for the downtown area of Rock Island was unveiled at a meeting of 200 civic leaders at noon today. 1988 — 25 years ago: For several supporters of the Dispatch Goodfellow/Argus Santa program their donation is a year long project. Emma Pugh and Anne Persinger spent a good part of their spare time this year knitting forty pairs of mittens and slippers.