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Fujimoto, Wills & Community make history at IHSA Swimming and Diving State Finals

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Photo Courtesy of: Normal Community Athletics Twitter // @IRON_ATHLETICS1
Kenny Wills (left) has his sights set on qualifying for the State 500 freestyle’s championship final next year; Fujimoto (right) will continue his scholastic swimming career as a University of Kentucky Wildcat next year.

Champions.

That’s a title Josh Fujimoto and Kenneth Wills can forever boast after competing at the IHSA Swimming and Diving State Finals on Sat., Feb. 25.

The pair showed their mettle in the 500 freestyle finale, medaling in the competition’s longest individual race. 

Fujimoto finished 7th, clocking a time of 4:29.96, with Wills placing 9th at 4:34.92.

Fujimoto’s finish marked the senior’s second straight State medal in the 500, after placing 4th in the event last season with a time of 4:29.99. 

During Friday’s preliminary race, Fujimoto and Wills finished within a quarter-second of each other, taking 10th (4:33.23) and 11th place (4:33.54), respectively, qualifying to compete in the consolation finals.

Unable to post a top-six prelim time and qualify for the championship final, 7th place was the best State finish the two could hope for. 

“On Friday, in the prelim session,” Fujimoto said, the “competition felt tougher. It was unfortunate that I didn’t swim as well as I could have.”

Saturday, Fujimoto said, he made some adjustments, shaving 3.27 seconds from his prelim performance and recording the third-fastest overall time in the finale heats. 

While Fujimoto dropped time, “seemingly,” the University of Kentucky commit said, “on Saturday, a lot of people added time. It was an interesting turn of events.” 

When Wills finished his preliminary race, the junior said he was really happy with his time, as it marked “a big improvement throughout the year.”

“When I realized that I’d made the B final,” Wills said, “I was… happy beyond expectations. I had no idea that I’d be able to get that far, and it was just very unexpected.”

Wills’ State performance already has him thinking about next season. 

“Next year,” Wills said, “my biggest goal is to break the school record for the 500.”

The duo’s podium appearances weren’t the weekend’s only notable achievement.

Fujimoto and Wills, along with relay teammates Kamden Malinowski and Wade Pyle, etched their names into Community’s record book, breaking the 400-yard freestyle record by just over a quarter-second with a time of 3:10.65.

But it’s another record that Fujimoto takes the most pride in breaking during his career as an Ironmen: one that stood for 17 years, one he almost broke  two years prior — the 200-yard medley record, eclipsed a week earlier at the Sectional meet.

“To finally be able to do it, and to do it with some freshmen felt really special,” Fujimoto said. 

Despite Community’s the record-breaking performance in the 400 freestyle at State, the relay placed 17th.

Community’s 200 medley team (Malinowski, Josh Svob, Gabe Nelson and Sam Grojean) placed 36th (1:41.52).

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About the Contributor
Dylan Wehmeyer, Senior Staff Reporter
Dylan Wehmeyer is a senior at Normal Community High School and is involved with Best Buddies and FMP. This is his third year working with the Inkspot; he is a senior staff reporter. A book that moved me is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A slogan I live by is "You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always."
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