With a new coach, a new lineup loaded with freshman and sophomores, and abnormal early-season practice pattern, a slow start by the Waunakee girls’ swimming team could have been forgiven.
The Warriors’ start to their season was anything but slow; Waunakee won seven out of 11 events en route to taking first place at the seven-team Raider Invite at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln on Thursday.
The Warriors – who racked up a total of 522 points in their first-place effort – were led by Abi Schmeiser and Kajsa Rosenkvist; each won two individual races and teamed up with Alaina Sautebin and Makenzie Wallace for another win in the 200 medley relay in 1:55.41. Schmeiser took the 200 individual medley (2:19.08) and the 100 butterfly (1:01.96), while Rosenkvist won the 100 freestyle (58.07) and 100 backstroke (1:03.43).
Wallace was the final Warrior who secured a victory in an individual race, taking the 100 breaststoke (1:11.81).
Waunakee also got a win in their second relay of the day: the 200 freestyle relay; Sautebin, Tessa Pauls, Dylan Ryniak and Grace Blitz teamed up to post a winning time of 1:49.00.
In all, the Warriors got 15 top-three finishes. Of the 12 top-three finishes in individual races, 10 were by freshmen or sophomores in a display of talent by Waunakee’s youth.
“I think they were pretty pleased with their times,” Waunakee’s Head Coach Heather Frank said of the Warrior freshmen. “All in all, we had drops from many swimmers’ seed times. [It] puts smiles on lots of faces.”
Waunakee’s top-three finishes included Sautebin’s second-place 100 backstroke (1:04.55) and third-place 200 individual medley (2:25.90), Blitz’s third-place 50 freestyle (26.38) and 100 breaststroke (1:14.13), Ryniak’s third-place 100 butterfly (1:05.63) and 500 freestyle (5:44.63) and Wallace’s third-place 200 freestyle (2:05.40).
The final top finish for the Warriors came in the final race of the day: the 400 freestyle relay. Rosenkvist, Ryniak, Wallace and Schmeiser teamed up to finish second in a time of 3:55.33.
“[It] was a very nice season opener,” added Frank. “This is an amazing group of girls. Proud of how they swam so early in the season. We had a great day.”
Waunakee’s depth was on display, as well; the Warriors had 13 more top-10 finishes on the day, including fifth-place swims by Tessa Pauls in the 100 freestyle (1:01.67), Megan Maxfield in the 500 freestyle (6:06.45) and the relay team of Maxfield, Allie Hoffman, Sarah Walther and Blitz in the 400 freestyle relay (4:17.69).
The next competition for the Warriors will be on Sept. 3, when they’ll host the Badger North relays at the WHS Aquatic Center. Start time is scheduled for 6 p.m.