McFarland’s 200-yard medley relay tandem of juniors Adrianna Nickels, Laura Billmann, Emily Schoenbrodt and sophomore Sophia Alf finished eighth with a time of 1 minute, 50.16 seconds at Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 spring state competition at Waukesha South High School.
The Spartans scored 45 points to place 16th as a team.
“This was easily the most challenging season I’ve had in my years as a head coach,” McFarland girls swim coach Jessica Garvey said. “We had 3.5 fewer weeks than a normal season, and we only got one hour of pool time per day. It was pretty incredible how well our girls came together and swam fast.
“I was impressed with our senior swimmers who went out of their way during the shortened season to find safe and socially distanced ways to have the team interact and bond outside of practice. I was also very impressed with how our athletes handled all COVID protocols. I know none of them enjoyed wearing a wet mask after getting out of the pool, but they did it with minimal complaints and an incredible work ethic.”
Monona Grove had eight points, finishing 28th.
Schoenbrodt added a 10th place showing in the 50 freestyle (:24.66) and Nickels was 11th in the 100 backstroke (:59.66) for the Spartans.
McFarland’s 400 freestyle relay group of Schoenbrodt, junior Brooklyn Ray, Alf and Nickels finished 12th (3:40.48).
“Every swimmer at state swam a season best, and most swims were lifetime bests,” Garvey explained. “We invited an alternate who came and swam without having been in the water since sectionals, and it was pretty incredible how the team rallied together in Mara (Freeman’s) absence.
“I also think the energy that the spectators brought at the state meet was something we’ve been missing a lot this season. I don’t think anything from this season could match the energy and anticipation from when Jump Around was played before the final heat of the 400 free relay, and it played a huge part of why that heat was so fun to watch.”
The Spartans bring back the bulk of their team, as the group will be back in the water in four short months for the traditional fall campaign.
“Moving onto fall will be exciting for this team,” Garvey said. “Every single state swimmer is returning as well as all but two of our sectional team. We kept talking about how this season felt like an extended warm-up for what is to come in the fall season.
“I know we missed competing in our conference meet this spring, so that is definitely something a lot of the coaches and swimmers are looking forward to.”
For the Silver Eagles, sophomore Morgan Heilman was 12th in the 200 freestyle (1:57.89) and 15th in the 100 back (1:01.42).
Senior Brianna Back placed 16th (2:02.55) in the 200 free.
Team scores: Madison Edgewood 350; Middleton 386; Sun Prairie 233; Appleton North 159; Oshkosh West 125; Verona/Mount Horeb 117; Ashwaubenon 116; Bay Port 103.5; Jefferson/Cambridge 102; DeForest 83; Stevens Point 60; Milton 57; Sheboygan North 55; Green Bay Southwest co-op 50; Waunakee 49; McFarland 45; Janesville Craig 43; Beloit Memorial 41; Neenah 41; Stoughton 40; Fond du Lac/Oakfield 31; Eau Claire Memorial 29; Edgerton 21; Sturgeon Bay co-op 19.5; Appleton West/Kimberly 19; Oregon 15; Pulaski 11; Monona Grove 8; La Crosse Logan co-op 3; Eau Claire North 1; Oshkosh North/Lourdes 3.