“We were an outside chance (of qualifying for state),” Rhodes said. “I said, ‘If you’re serious (about qualifying for state), you guys need a competitive edge.’ ’’

Rhodes suggested shaved heads was the perfect “edge.”

“They said they’d wear swimming caps, but I said that’s not the same,” Rhodes said. “The feel of the water on your shaved head makes you fast, and they bought into it.’’

So with shaved heads, senior Jacob Johnson, and juniors Nate Sigmund, Markus Murdy and Matt Simpson cut five seconds on their best 200 medley relay time at last Saturday’s sectional to make it as a state extra qualifier.

“It was a huge surprise,” Rhodes said of the relay team’s 1:44.73 effort. “It was super human.’’

Sauk Prairie/Wisconsin Heights holds the No. 1 seed in the 200 medley relay with a 1:39.12 clocking.

For an encore, the Vikings are bent on shaving yet another 1.7 seconds off their sectional time to post a school record.

Can the Parker team do it after such a big drop in only six days?

Rhodes said he will not bet against it.

“One of the things you can’t underestimate is the heart of a high school athlete,” Rhodes said.

While the Vikings are using their heads to swim faster, the Janesville Craig state qualifiers are counting on their season-long competitive edge to remain sharp.

Junior Alex Loftus and freshman Spencer Mattox of the Cougars had a friendly rivalry all season that brought positive returns.

Loftus, the Big Eight Conference 100 breaststroke champion, qualified in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.94 and in the 200 individual medley at 2:01.17. Mattox made it in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.6 and the 200 IM in 2:02.34.

“They kind of worked off each other,” Craig coach Brian Kitzman said. “Racing against each other was a tremendous help.’’

Patrick Franken, a Madison Memorial sophomore, is the top seed in the 200 IM after posting a 1:59.05 sectional time. Peter Faecke a Madison West junior, is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:01.6 sectional clocking.

Loftus and Mattox also will join juniors Nick Strub and Tyler Meinders in the 200 freestyle relay (1:31.94) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:23.21) for state competition.

“They are going to try and set a school record in the 200 freestyle relay, which was set just last year,” Kitzman said. “That’s going to be a big motivator.’’

Madison East is the No. 1 seed in the 200 freestyle relay at 1:29.0. Arrowhead is No. 1 in the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:15.4.

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