Mad Skillz_old




Learning to be a leader[/align]French helping guide young Hillmen squad[/align][link=http://www.thonline.com/contactstaff.cfm?articleid=140805]by ERIN MURPHY[/link][/align]



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TH Photo by Jeremy Portje

Senior's Jordan Huff swims the 50-yard freestyle during a swim meet against Platteville.













Ben French learned a lot while looking up to his older brother. Matt French and his senior classmates were excellent examples - not to mention outstanding performers - for the Platteville/Lancaster boys swim team last season.

Now that Matt French and all those other swimmers are graduated, leaving the Hillmen a very young and inexperienced squad, Ben French is trying to take those lessons learned and be the same kind of leader his older brother was.

"Matt, Dan Kieler, Ben Knutson Their senior leadership they gave me (showed) what I can do to help this team," Ben French said after his team's dual meet against Dubuque Senior on Thursday night at the Hempstead Pool.

Platteville/Lancaster is most definitely in a rebuilding year. The Hillmen scored a healthy 1281/2 points at the WIAA Division 2 state meet last season (good for fifth place), but that graduating class took with it probably two-thirds of those points. This winter, the Hillmen have 22 kids on their roster, coach Tom Caccia said, and 14 of them are freshmen or sophomores.

Given how







               
       



green his roster is, Caccia said he is just looking for improvement, particularly at this early stage of the season.

"We want to be better at the end (of the season) than we are now," Caccia said. "When we go to meets like this where we're seeing really talented kids, I tell our kids to watch what's happening and see what those kids are doing that we're not, see if we can pick some things up."

The Hillmen definitely had one such talented kid to watch during Senior's 106-82 victory on Thursday: the Rams' Jordan Huff, who won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races and swam the anchor leg on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Mark Ross (200 freestyle), Scott Smith (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 500 freestyle) and Eric Ferring (100 backstroke)also won races for the Rams, as did the 200 medley relay team.

Last year's meet between these two teams came down to the last event. But with Platteville/Lancaster's heavy personnel losses, Senior won Thursday's matchup convincingly.

"It was a good meet,"Senior coach Dan Duclos said. "Our guys swam well, especially some of the younger guys, who are getting better and better, improving."

Duclos mentioned Ferring, who set a lifetime best with his win in the 100 backstroke.

Ben French had the lone victory for the Hillmen, in the 100 breaststroke. Ben French, now a senior himself, said he learned a lot from watching Kieler (who now swims at Wisconsin) and, in particular, his older brother (a student at Iowa).

"He pushed me. I was always trying to live up to my older brother. He made me want to work harder, be the best I can," Ben French said. "And Dan Kieler, the way he started as a freshman, and how his career turned out it's crazy.

"Now, being a captain myself, I try to mold (this year's teammates) into getting ready for swimming, because some of them are swimming for the first time.

"It's kind of a new experience but it's been great so far. I'm enjoying it, and the kids on the team are great. They're learning well. It's fantastic."





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Platteville's Jason Steiner swims in the 200-yard IM during a swim meet against Dubuque Senior.





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TH Photo by Jeremy Portje


Senior's Scott Smith swims in the 200-yard IM during a swim meet against Platteville.





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Senior's Scott Smith swims the 100-yard butterfly during a swim meet against Platteville.





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Senior's Mark Ross swims the 200-yard freestyle during a swim meet against Platteville.[/align]
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