Hibbing Daily Tribune

HIBBING — Former UCLA Men’s basketball coach John Wooden would always quote Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said, ‘It’s not the destination. It’s the journey,” about his hoops program.

That’s the exact same philosophy Hibbing High School girls swimming coach Mike Veneziano uses as his team prepares for the Section 7A Swimming and Diving finals, which will begin at 3 p.m., today at the high school pool.

The diving prelims will begin at 11 a.m.

For the Bluejackets, the ultimate goal is the State Class A Meet. What Hibbing has done along the way there will go along way in determining how well the Bluejackets do to get to that final destination.

Hibbing swam well in the preliminary meet, and Veneziano believes his team still has some time drops in them.

“It’s generally been our experience, with the way that we train, that we duplicate or even do better on the second day of the tournament,” Veneziano said. “There’s been many seasons between the two season that we haven’t been able to come back and swim better.

“It’s doing what we’ve been doing. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Right now, the formula works. Until I’m beyond a reasonable doubt that something isn’t going right, I refuse to change courses in midstream.”

Team-wise, the Bluejackets will be in a battle with Mesabi East and Two Harbors for the team title.

“I believe three teams will score over 300 points by the time it’s all said and done,” Veneziano said. “We’re one of those teams. Right now, Mesabi East has the nod, with Two Harbors not too far behind them. We’re sitting not too far behind them.

“We don’t think about where we’re sitting and what we’re doing. We’ll just go out and compete. That’s been the game plan, and why would you change it now. It has served us well.”

With the number of swimmers Veneziano has in the finals, he likes the way his team is set up to challenge for the title.

“The kids swam so well Thursday,” Veneziano said. “We had some incredible time drops. We had 90-percent of our swims go better. That’s uncommon. In the few instances it didn’t get better, you can chalk it up to nervousness, inexperience and a nagging injury.

“Only had two swims that didn’t go better than what we had done all season. Every veteran athlete came out and did a fantastic job. I don’t see things changing unless we impose it upon ourselves.”

Veneziano had eight swimmers taking part in their first section meet. Four of them advanced to the finals.

If they were able to handle that situation, Veneziano doesn’t believe the finals will have any affect on them.

“They handled it well, but we prep for it,” Veneziano said. “Once you’ve been through a season, and you’ve been through that first day of the tournament, now you have a feel for what it’s all about. With this atmosphere, you grow up fast.

“That’s the experience factor. They’ve already have a good dose of it. The kids that moved on to today’s meet are well prepared for it. They have those jitters out of the way, if they had them.”

What will help Hibbing’s cause will be its divers, Maddy Clusiau, Chloe Price, Serinity Wellman and Sylvie Wetzel.

“Maddy has a good shot at going,” Veneziano said. “The other three are rookie divers in the region, but we have four divers entered. Mesabi East has one or two, and Two Harbors one or two.

“Even though we have rookies, it helps us out. Our diving has, in recent history, been a factor that has helped us and not hurt us. If we perform the way we did Thursday, simply put, I don’t care what we place at that point. You have to take a look at the bigger picture.”

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