BELOIT — The season of firsts continued for the Sun Prairie girls swim team. After winning the Big Eight Conference duals and Big Eight Meet for the first time, the Cardinals claimed the program’s first sectional championship Saturday.
Sun Prairie scored 377.5 points to overwhelm the field and win the WIAA Division 1 Beloit Memorial Sectional.
“They swam so well,” said Cardinals head coach Nancy Harms. “They swam with such determination; they have a plan. “Winning the sectional, yes, it’s a great honor, but your goal at sectionals is to get as many kids as possible to state. And, we did it.”
The Cardinals more than dominated the Beloit Sectional, winning seven events while qualifying for next weekend’s WIAA State Meet in all 11 swimming events
“Every single kid that swam qualified,” Harms said.
The Sun Prairie swim machine was off and running right from the start as the 200-yard medley relay foursome of freshman Olivia Sala, junior Janelle Schulz, senior Cassidy Carey and sophomore Paige Rundahl out-touched runner-up Middleton in 1 minutes, 46.19 seconds.
It was only the start of a huge day for Schulz. In her next event the junior won the 200 IM in 2:06.17, breaking her own school record of 2:06.54.
Later in the meet Schulz set a new standard in the 100 breaststroke, winning the event in 1:05.37 to again shatter her own record of 1:06.04.
“She has really come on,” said Harms of Schulz, who will swim in her third WIAA State Meet. “She is a very determined athlete and has poured her heart and soul into this; it’s kind of fun watching athletes not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Janelle is one of those.”
Schulz capped off her day with her fourth championship. Swimming the third leg of the 400 freestyle relay, Schulz joined senior Bree Moericke and juniors Grace Sala and Sophie Fiske in a winning time of 3:27.73.
Carey also broke a school record, like Schulz one that she owned. The senior swam the 100 backstroke in 57.22 to finish fifth, breaking her previous mark of :57.39, to qualify for state.
Carey won an individual sectional title winning the 100 butterfly in :56.76.
The Cardinals had several other sectional championship swims, including two by Fiske. The junior standout will defend both her 50 and 100 freestyle state titles after sectional title times of :23.42 and :50.85, respectively.
OTHER SUN PRAIRIE STATE QUALIFIERS
Sun Prairie’s other state qualifiers include: senior Hannah Marshall (4th, 200 free, 1:55.24) & (9th, 100 free, :53.77), Grace Sala (3rd, 200 IM, 2:08.37) & (2nd, 100 fly, :56.87), junior Ella Gunnink (7th, 200 IM, 2:10.72), Rundahl (6th-tie, 50 free, :24.37), Moericke (8th, 50 free, :24.42) & (5th, 100 free, :52.76), freshman Olivia Sala (4th, 500 free, 5:07.25) & (7th, 100 back, :58.40), and the runner-up 200 freestyle relay team of Moericke, Rundahl, Marshall and Fiske (1:36.77).
“To tell you the truth, we didn’t expect Paige Rundahl to be swimming the events she’s swimming, (but) her goals were to swim IM and backstroke,” said Harms. “Our swimmers seem like they can do everything.”
WIAA STATE MEET
Sun Prairie can win its first-ever state championship at this Saturday. The 50th WIAA Girls Swimming & Diving State Meet will take place at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
Swimming timed finals begin at 3 p.m.
Spectators will be able to purchase tickets at the door Saturday. Please be aware that ticket prices have increased to $8 per ticket this year.
There will not be any on-line ticket sales available.
WIAA DIVISION 1
BELOIT MEMORIAL SECTIONAL
Team scores: Sun Prairie 377.5, Middleton 308, Madison Memorial 307, Madison West 300.5, Verona Area/Mount Horeb 256.5, Milton 144, Waunakee 115, Beloit Memorial 81, Oregon 75, Monona Grove 66, Madison East 51, Madison La Follette 51, Janesville Craig 48, Janesville Parker/Evansville 39.