Michael Hamann recently received one of the most important letters of his life.
The Cary-Grove senior got his “likely letter” from the University of Pennsylvania, which means he should officially be accepted to the Philadelphia school in the not-too-distant future. Hamann, the Northwest Herald Boys Swimmer of the Year last season, will swim for the Quakers and plans on attending Penn’s renowned Wharton School of Business.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Hamann, who has qualified for the IHSA swimming state meet three times. “The Ivy League is something I honed in on early in the [college] process. Penn stood out because Wharton’s known as the best business school in the world.”
Hamann ranks in the top 5 percent of his senior class and scored 34 on his ACT. He made an unofficial visit over the summer, then made another visit to Penn last month with his mother, Linda. The “likely letter” is something Ivy League schools often send prospective athletes informing them that their acceptance soon will be official.
Hamann qualified for state in four events last season, the 200 individual medley, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay. He made the finals in the 200 IM and backstroke, but did not make it to the championship heats in those races.
Hamann started swimming when he was 6 years old and began thinking about competing in college a few years later.
“When I was 10, I won my first age-group state title, and I knew I had some ability,” Hamann said. “It really hit me when I was 12 and I was in the top 10 in the country in my age group.”
Now, Hamann will swim at the NCAA Division I level and attend one of the most prestigious academic schools in the nation.
Regional madness: Advancing to a sectional cross country meet is probably the easiest thing to do in any IHSA sport. Well, in track and field, there are no regionals, so athletes go directly to the sectional meets for state qualifying.
Perhaps the IHSA should do the same thing with cross country because regionals, which run Saturday in Classes 1A, 2A and 3A, really do nothing but provide another week of racing. There’s no real elimination from the regionals to sectionals.
The IHSA sets up nine-team regionals with seven of those teams advancing, along with the top five individuals not on those teams. That means 54 of the 63 runners in a regional are going on to the sectional, which makes being a sectional qualifier not really mean much.
Qualifying five teams and five individuals from regionals seems like enough. It would be nice if the IHSA Cross Country Advisory Committee might come up with suggestions in the future to make the cross country postseason better. The regionals, in their current form, seem like a waste of time.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.