As an eighth grader, Jack Herczeg asked his coach a simple question: “How can I improve?”
Five years later, he leaves as one of the most decorated athletes in Winona Senior High School history — and the best swimmer in the state of Minnesota.
On Thursday, Herczeg was named the Class A State Swimmer of the Year by the Minnesota Swimming and Diving Coaches Association.
He was one of four Winhawks nominated for the award. Teammates Grant Wolner, Alex Jorgenson and Tanner Lozenski were the others.
Chris Mayer, Winona’s sixth-year coach, was named the Class A State Coach of the Year.
Herczeg barely missed out on the state meet as an eighth-grader, but left his mark every year after that. He ended his career with nine state championships (five individual, four relay), nine All-American titles and three state records. He holds six school records and more than 30 other meet or pool records.
As a senior, he won the 200 freestyle in All-American Consideration time, defended his title for the second time in the 100 freestyle while earning Automatic All-American status in a state record-setting time. He was also a member of the winning 200- and 400-freestyle relays that won in state-record and All-American times.
He will continue his swimming career at the Ohio State University next year.
Herczeg is the second Winhawk swimmer to win the award in three years; Griffin Wolner won it in 2018.
The other Winhawks nominated for swimmer of the year were Alex Jorgenson, Tanner Lozenski and Grant Wolner.
Jorgenson was a part of two record-setting relays and also was second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 freestyle at the state meet. He was a part of six meet or pool records as a senior as well.
Lozenski overcame a serious ATV accident in June 2018 to have a phenomenal senior year as he was a part of two state-record relays as well as placing sixth in the 500 freestyle and 10th in the 200 freestyle.
Wolner set a state record in winning the 100 butterfly and was a part of two state-record relays and a third-place finish in the 200 IM that was an All-American Consideration time and one of the top 20 times recorded in state history. He ended his career with two individual state titles, four relay state titles and more than 25 meet or pool records. He also holds six school records.
Mayer is the first Winona coach to win the award.
This season, the Winhawks won their first-ever Section 1A True Team Championship and their highest placing at the True Team state meet, placing fourth. Winona was second in the Big 9 Conference meet and won their first MSHSL Section 1A title since 1993. Winona was fourth at the Class A state meet.
Winona set 33 meet or pool records, nine school records and four state records this year.