For a handful of swimmers, the season continues on for one final week.
The Waunakee girls’ swim team competed on Saturday in their WIAA Sectional Meet at Beloit Memorial, each swimmer hoping to earn their place at this coming Saturday’s State Meet. Against some of the state’s top teams, the Warriors had their work cut out for them.
“We’re the big fish in our conference, and then we’re the small fish in the sectional,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Heather Frank. “Making that transition is difficult.”
WIAA Sectional Meet
Three Warrior events were successful in moving on, starting with the meet-opening 200 medley relay. Waunakee’s team of Ella Graf, Makenzie Wallace, Abi Schmeiser and Grace Blitz finished in seventh place at their highly-competitive sectional, touching the wall in a time of 1:50.38.
Schmeiser twice qualified later in the day in individual races. Her first qualifying swim came in the 200 individual medley, where her time of 2:11.27 was good for ninth place; the second was in the 100 butterfly, where her 57.67 finish took seventh place overall.
Waunakee had a number of additional races with strong times, but ultimately fell just short of qualifying for any more races.
Two races in particular – the 200 freestyle relay and the 100 breaststroke – were devastatingly close to earning a spot at state. In the 200 freestyle relay, Waunakee’s team of Wallace, Alaina Sautebin, Blitz and Schmeiser’s time of 1:41.94 was just one hundredth of a second off the qualifying standard. Wallace’s time of 1:07.34 dropped her school-record mark in the 100 breaststroke, but was three hundredths of a second short of the qualifying time for state.
“Makenzie was fifth in her 100 breaststroke, and we thought she was in…” said Frank. “It’s really hard as a swimmer, it’s hard as a team, it’s hard as a coach.”
Other top finishes for the Warriors were Kajsa Rosenkvist, Dylan Ryniak, Blitz and Wallace in eighth place of the 400 freestyle relay (3:47.34), Sautebin in 12th in the 100 backstroke (1:00.44), Graf in 13th in the 100 backstroke (1:00.50), Rosenkvist in 14th in the 200 freestyle (2:01.41), and Ryniak in 17th in the 500 freestyle (5:29.93).
“I think next year, we’re going to try to work things differently and have a different mindset coming into sectionals…” said Frank. “We have a really good group of strong swimmers. We’re not as big as some of those teams, but we can compete with them; it’s just the mentality.”
In the meantime, Waunakee’s group heading to state will hope to finish their season with a bang. Three of the four qualifiers – Schmeiser, Graf and Wallace – are making return trips to state, while Blitz – a freshman – is making her debut at the UW Natatorium.
“They know what to expect,” Frank said of having such an experienced group. “Now, it’s just us re-working things and trying to make sure that everybody is physically and mentally prepared.”
Saturday’s state meet at the UW Natatorium is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.