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by Benny Liang, Swimming World College Intern
The 2016 Wisconsin Girls High School State meets for Divisions 1 and 2 took place Friday, November 11th and Saturday, November 12th at the UW-Madison Natatorium. Autumn Haebig and Lillie Hosack lead their teams in breaking several Division 1 and 2 records at this year’s meet.
The Grafton squad of Autumn Haebig, Emma O’Brien, Mallory Fox, and Olivia Konzen took off like a rocket in the first race of the night and won the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:46.13, giving the meet record a scare and besting Kohler/Sheboygan Area Lutheran by nearly three seconds. Haebig’s leadoff split of 25.43 was what really put it in the bag. She was over three seconds faster than Kohler’s Kara Friske, and the fastest split in the field by over a second and a half.
Kelly Rodriguez dominated the 200 free. She controlled the first 50 of her race going out evenly with the rest of the field, then proceeded to outsplit everyone by over a second per 50 for the next three 50s. Her winning time of 1:49.41 marked a nearly three second drop from last year, and topped Marissa Wolff of McFarland and Julia Larson of Wauwatosa West by over five seconds. The 2012 state record set by Shorewood’s Kirsten Malone will likely be put to the test next year, challenged by Rodriguez’s momentum.
The 200 IM was a back and forth duel between Kiah Francis of Rhinelander and Jenna Silvestri of Kohler/Sheboygan Area Lutheran. Francis was the early leader after the fly, but a strong backstroke leg by Silvestri put her in the lead. This wasn’t to last; Francis put pressure on the back half of the race and took off, overtaking Silvestri by nearly a second each on the breast and free legs. Her time of 2:03.30 finished just shy of the 2:03.00 meet record, held by Rachel Munson of Shorewood. Silvestri finished in 2:04.79 and Rodriguez, coming off of a red-hot 200 free just minutes before, rounded out the top three in 2:07.45.
Alexandra Moderski and Mallory Fox were the girls to watch in the splash-and-dash as the only two with seed times under 24 seconds. Moderski took the win, successfully defending her title in a time of 23.09, a quarter of a second off her meet record from last year. Fox finished runner-up in 23.38, ahead of sophomore Kaitlyn Barth who lead a trio of Edgewood girls in a time of 24.03.
Junior Bella Passamani pulled a huge upset in the 100 fly. Taking the race out in a 26.96, just one of two girls to go sub-27 the first 50, Passamani simultaneously held off a late charge from second seeded Katie Hayes, and also ran down race favorite Lauren Bergmann of Edgewood to take home her first state title in 56.27. Bergmann, in 56.69, faded after a hard first 50 to take third behind Hayes, who finished in 56.55.
Fox and Moderski went head to head again in the 100 free, with Fox taking the win this time around. Moderski scorched the first 50, splitting a 24.20 to the feet. That split would have taken fifth in the 50 free. Fox stuck with Moderski and reeled her in the final 25 to take her first individual title, 50.46 to 50.58. Barth, the third placed finisher in the 50, picked up her second bronze of the meet in a time of 51.99.
The 500 freestyle was Haebig’s race to lose. Coming in with a seed time over 11 seconds faster than the field, she dominated the race by nearly 17 seconds. Her time of 4:47.79 was also the fastest time in Division 2 history, cracking 2010 champion Kelsey Hojan-Clark‘s record time of 4:48.80. 100 fly champ Passamani took second in 5:04.66, followed by Whitnall junior Kelly McElvain who lopped over six seconds off her seed time to take third in 5:10.25.
The Edgewood Crusaders took their second win of the meet in the 200 free relay. Anchored by freestyle powerhouse Rodriguez, the trio of Barth, Maeve O’Driscoll and DeeDee Walker gave Rodriguez what she needed to take the win in 1:36.30. Their winning time was just shy of the state record set in 2009 by Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol, but with all four members returning next year, that record may finally fall. Grafton took second in 1:36.61 with the same foursome that took the medley relay. 50 free champ Moderski launched the Spartans to an early lead but ultimately finished the race in third, with a time of 1:38.59.
Grafton’s Haebig, after swimming three races back-to-back, ended her high school career with yet another state title in the 100 back. She broke her own state record set in 2015 with a time of 54.65. Haebig’s dominance in this race is further shown by her second 50 split of 27.96, which would have been the second fastest split going out. Edgewood’s Bergmann took second in 56.72 and sophomore Maddie Guman of New Berlin Eisenhower took third in 58.71.
200 IM champ Francis and runner-up Silvestri went at it again in the final individual event of the evening, the 100 breaststroke. Silvestri took a slight lead in the first half, splitting a 30.00 to Francis’s 30.15. The Rhinelander senior took up the challenge, responding in the second half with a 33.94 to Silvestri’s 34.09. Both girls touched in 1:04.09 to tie for the state crown. Lauryn Christianson, a Monona Grove senior, went out with the eventual champions, but wasn’t able to hold on and took third in 1:07.13.
Edgewood dominated the 400 free relay. Cruising to victory by over seven seconds, the quad of Rodriguez, Issy Petersen, Bergmann and Barth smashed the state record held by Grafton at 3:28.12 with their time of 3:27.97. Just like in the 200 free relay where Moderski put the Spartans within striking distance of Edgewood, McFarland didn’t have the firepower to stick with the leaders, and took second in 3:35.24. Baraboo managed to hold of Kohler/Sheboygan Area Lutheran for a third place finish in 3:36.54.
Edgewood’s depth won the meet for them, outscoring runner-up McFarland 337 to 224. Grafton took third with 180 points, followed by New Berlin Eisenhower with 148, and Baraboo with 140. Kohler/Sheboygan Area Lutheran finished in sixth with 136.50 points.
The Cedarburg team of Lillie Hosack, Erika Remington, Skylar Fore and Maya Novack won the 200 medley relay in 1:43.44 over Middleton who finished in 1:45.00. Even though Middleton’s last three legs were all faster than Cedarburg’s, they were still not able to overcome Hosack’s 25.15, which was over a second and a half faster than that of Chiara Pierobon Mays. Katrina Marty, top seed in the 100 back, led off Madison West with a strong 25.76 to take third overall in a time of 1:45.71. Notable splits include Gabriela Pierobon Mays with the fastest fly leg in 24.16, and Grace Bennin, the only swimmer to split sub-29 on the breast with a 28.63.
Abby Cabush, Arrowhead junior, took top honors in the 200 free, winning in 1:50.77. She led a tight field, with places two through six finishing within a half second of each other. Hannah Aegerter of Middleton edged out Rachel Powers of Sun Prairie for second, swimming a 1:51.13 to Powers’s 1:51.18.
Hosack lit the pool on fire again, this time in the 200 IM. She cut nearly seven seconds off her seed time of 2:06.16 to overtake top seeded Kenosha Tremper senior Lexie DuChene for the title. Boasting the fastest splits in the field in three of her four legs, Hosack rocked the Madison Natatorium, finishing in a time of 1:59.47 and surpassing Cedarburg phenom Katie Drabot‘s state record time of 1:59.89. DuChene took second in 2:03.85, holding back fast-approaching Janesville Craig junior Erin Donagan in 2:04.42. Notably, Donagan was the only swimmer to outsplit Hosack, which she did in the breaststroke leg, 35.11 to 35.43.
Brookfield Central speedster Gwen Gustafson knocked four-tenths off her seed time to take gold in the 50. She passed up top seed Grace Bennin to finish 23.31 to 23.43. Places three through seven were separated by less than half a second, with Middleton sophomore Cora Mack leading that group in 23.52. 2015 runner-up Skylar Fore finished fourth in 23.54.
Middleton freshman Mays ruled the 100 fly, winning in 55.00, throwing down the fastest splits in both legs of her race. Fastest returner from last years meet Marty wasn’t able to keep up, taking the silver in 55.30, just a tenth faster than she was in 2015. Pierobon Mays and Marty represented the only swimmers to break 56 as Bay Port freshman Emma Lasecki took third in 56.32.
Quickly rebounding from the 50 free, Fore put together the 100 she needed to take home her first individual title, winning in 50.77. Fore swam the only sub-51 time in the race. Mack, Maizie Seidl and Gustafson were within six one-hundredths of each other, going 51.32, 51.33 and 51.38 respectively. Top seed Cabush wound up taking 7th overall, finishing in 52.10.
Senior Powers won the longest freestyle race, besting Arrowhead Freshman Alyssa Graves 4:56.19 to 4:59.19 in the 500 freestyle. This marks Powers’s first individual title after finishing in third the past three years of her career. Maggie Held took third in 5:01.32, touching out 200 free runner-up Aegerter who finished in 5:01.39.
Aegerter took to the pool again to team up with Mack, Makenna Licking and Caroline Hippen to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:33.72, just short of record time 1:33.51 held by Verona Area/Mt. Horeb. Hippen’s split of 22.85 was the only sub-23 split in the field and what separated Middleton from Madison West, who finished in 1:35.75. The state record will have to be put on watch, considering that all four members of Middleton’s relay are returning next year. Verona Area/Mt. Horeb took third with sprint star Grace Bennin anchoring in 23.11.
Underclasswomen Marty and Pierobon Mays entered the meet as the top two seeds in the fly and back. Pierobon Mays took the 100 fly, but the backstroke belonged to Marty. Hosack and Marty turned in identical 26.68s at the 50, with Pierobon Mays close behind in 26.73. The race then shifted in Marty’s favor. Coming home a quarter-second faster than Hosack, Marty took the win in 54.31, followed by Hosack in 54.56 and Pierobon Mays in 54.69.
The 200 medley relay is typically a good indicator of what is to come in the 100’s of stroke. In this case, Grace Bennin’s 50 breast split, nearly half a second faster than defending champion Lauren Stigler, suggested a potential upset in the 100 breast. Bennin zipped past top seeded Stigler to win the title in 1:02.13 to Stiglers 1:02.40. A trio of seniors followed Bennin, including Stigler, Emily Macco in 1:04.15, and Larsen in 1:04.57. Junior Donagan rounded out the top five as the final swimmer to crack 1:05.
Middleton once again showed off their talent, claiming the longer of the two freestyle relays. Swapping out Licking for Pierobon Mays, the cardinals took the win in 3:24.94. Cedarburg took second in 3:27.63, with a leadoff split of 50.58 from Hosack that not only blew past the rest of the field by two seconds, but also would have won the 100 free over teammate Skylar Fore. Appleton North, bookended by seniors Britt Horn and Lauren Hilt took third in 3:31.75.
Middleton took first in the team standings with a score of 265. Fifth ranked Verona moved up to take second with 215.50 points, and top ranked Arrowhead fell to third after winning 180 points.