The Wil to Win


Michael Bernard, Editor-in-Chief

“When Jackie Robinson played against the Cardinals, Stan Musial went up to him and said that he was honored to play with him,” Wil Welch said. “He is a great person to look up to as an athlete and a person.”

Freshman Wil Welch is not your ordinary swimmer. For starters, he looks up to former Cardinals baseball player Stan Musial for his inspiration, rather than an athlete like Michael Phelps, as most of the swimmers tend to do. Welch also continues to astound his peers with his ability to swim. Before joining the swim team, Welch swam for CSP, a select swim team in Clayton.

“High school practice is more fun,” Welch said. “It’s more important to me.”

Welch still often swims at CSP when he does not have high school practices.

Welch also feels that his practice at Clayton has more of an effect overall as both a swimmer and a leader to both him and his teammates, people who he really admires.

Besides Welch, the swim team consists of many strong leaders.  

Having somebody to look up to is incredibly encouraging to Welch.

“When you don’t have somebody to look up to, you don’t have a compass leading you,” Welch said. “When you do, you know where you are going and you know what you want to accomplish.”

The swim team is led by captains Robert Hollocher and Paul Krucylak, both seniors. To many of the swimmers, experienced or not, Hollocher and Krucylak are great examples of leaders. Although Welch is only a freshman, Hollocher still sees Welch as a leader in his right.

“Wil is a great leader and role model for the other swimmers on the team,” Hollocher said.  “New and more [inexperienced] swimmers as well as experienced swimmers look up to Wil.”

Freshman Daniel Cohen started swimming this year for Clayton’s swim team. Welch really helped improve Cohen as a swimmer.  

“Wil helped me boost my confidence,” Cohen said. “Taking his advice made me [a] better [swimmer].” Welch was able to teach the new swimmers correct techniques and strokes, something that is vital to succeeding, but mostly improving.

Welch is a clear standout on this team. Obviously, this success comes with great lengths. In the offseason, Welch practices six days a week.  He plans to work as hard as possible in preparation for next season.

“During the offseason, I’m definitely gonna swim club and I’m gonna work really hard to make myself better,” Welch said.

However, Welch’s success did not come without extra support. Head coach David Kometscher and assistant coach Jill Allen really had an impact on Welch’s success.

“It’s good to have great coaches who give you really good personal feedback,” Welch said.

Kometscher is very impressed by Welch’s work ethic this year.

“He’s the only person on the team that was doing two workouts a day,” Kometscher said. “I admire [Wil].”

With the help of his coaches and peers and the work that he put in, Welch was able to achieve many of his goals: Welch qualified and attended both Districts and State this year.

“I’ve been coaching here for twenty plus years,” Kometscher said.  “We’ve probably had [a freshman qualify for state] five times in those 20 years.”

At conference, Welch helped beat the school record for the 200 medley relay.  His team finished the swim in 1:43 beating the previous CHS record of 1:45, which had been standing for 29 years.  In doing so, Welch made the cut and qualified to state.

Welch attended state accompanied by swimmers Tiger Chen, Ricky Kuehn and Spencer Anderson as well as diver Taylor Edlin.  Wil’s team came in 23rd at state.

“It is inspiring to see such a young swimmer have such a powerful impact on a team.” Hollocher said.

Welch has made an impact on the team his freshman year that will leave a mark in Clayton swimming history and will guide the rest of his high school career.  However, his love for swimming and emphasis on sportsmanship–just like his hero, Musial–will always come before his prestige.

“There is nothing better, than when you take a breath on butterfly and you see your whole team at the end of the pool there cheering for you,” Welch said. “[It] justs warms you heart.”