All they can do is their best.
That was the correct mantra to repeat during Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state girls swimming and diving meet at Waukesha South High School.
For some teams, doing their best means being the best in the state—and even the best in state history. That was Brookfield East, which won nine of the 12 events—five of them with state-meet record times, including the final four events in succession—to win the team championship.
But there was room for a lot of other victories—and winners—in the meet.
Count among them Janesville Craig juniors Ally Donagan and Dakota Reece, who ended the long season by competing in two individual events apiece at state.
Donagan finished seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 56.08 seconds) and 11th in the 500 freestyle (5:08.99). Both were lifetime bests for Donagan, the school-record holder in both events.
Reece, who battled a cold all week, set her lifetime bests in last week’s sectional meet but didn’t top those times at state, taking 18th in the 50 freestyle (:24.46) and 23rd in the 100 free (:54.14).
“We practiced in the morning and I felt pretty good, and my starts were really good,” Donagan said. “I couldn’t have asked for much more.”
“(Having a cold) made things different, but I tried to push through,” Reece said. “I tried to work on my breathing because that was the hardest part.”
“I’m glad they both ended on a high note,” Craig coach Jen Punzel said. “I know Dakota wishes she might have done a little better, but they both have next year.”
Perhaps the most head-turning area performance came from the Lake Geneva Badger co-op. The Badgers battled to a school-record sixth-place finish, scoring 148 points, one behind fifth-place Germantown.
“When I was a freshman we took 31st of 40 teams at state and we were happy about it,” said junior Callie Ceshker, who anchored Badger’s state runner-up 200 freestyle relay (1:34.95) and added a 10th in the 50 freestyle (:23.98), a 12th in the 100 free (:52.29) and a fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:45.81).
Sophomore Sailor Whowell finished fifth in the 50 free (:23.36) and 100 backstroke (:56.53), swam on the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay.
“It (the 50 free) was a pretty good race, though I missed my turn a little bit and that affected my time,” Whowell said. “I swam the same thing in the 200 freestyle relay and had a faster time.”
The area’s top individual finisher was Badger sophomore diver Wylde Chupich. Just 2½ years after being introduced to diving, she scored 427.4 points to finish second, 9.4 points behind champion Sydney Nelson of Hartland Arrowhead.
Chupich was third after the semifinals but moved up after closing with her best dive, an inward double flip.
“I was like, ‘this is your last dive so do it,’ and I knew I could,” said Chupich’s, whose scoring total was her best of the year.
Chupich started as a youth gymnast, but a friend at her club tempted her into giving diving a try.
“I’ve always been a water-type person,” said Chupich, whose goal is to compete as a diver in college. “The first time I tried it I knew I wanted to keep at it.”
Also for Badger, sophomore Mackenzie Thomas was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.43) and seventh in the 50 free (:23.69). She also swam on two relays.
Milton’s state contingent was led by Bailey Ratzburg. The junior was seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:05.06), eighth in the 100 free (:51.88) and anchored the 400 freestyle relay (17th in 3:39.62). Her 200 freestyle relay team was disqualified.
“My time improved in both (individual events) and moved up from sectional seedings,” Ratzburg said. “I felt on—I felt as good as I had all season. When one small thing starts feeling good, more good things follow.”
“We call it ‘positive nerves,’ said Milton’s Alyssa Fons, a junior who swam on both Red Hawks relays.
Edgerton/Evansville’s Blue Tide had two individual participants, both juniors. Ella Gorski was 15th in the 100 backstroke (:58.64) and Jenna Schmitt 19th in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.18).
WIAA STATE GIRLS SWIMMING MEET
At Waukesha South
Top 10 teams, other area teams
1, Brookfield East 304.5; 2, Hartland Arrowhead 264; 3, Middleton 193; 4, Waukesha West/Catholic Memorial 163; 5, Germantown 149; 6, Lake Geneva Badger co-op 148; 7, Madison West 139; 8, Madison Memorial 116.5; 9, Brookfield Central 109; 10, Appleton North 62.5; 22 (tie), Milton 23; 36 (tie), Janesville Craig 6; 39 (tie), Edgerton/Evansville 2.
Individual winners, area finishers
Diving—1, Sydney Nelson, Arrowhead, 437.00; 2, Wylde Chupich, Badger co-op, 427.40.
200 medley relay—1, Brookfield East (Maggie Wanezek, Lucy Thomas, Kamryn Dembny, Callie Gregg), 1:41.05; 4, Badger co-op (Sailor Whowell, Mackenzie Thomas, Addi Nelson, Callie Ceshker), 1:45.81.
200 freestyle—1, Lucy Thomas, Brookfield East, 1:46.82; 17, Ally Donagan, Janesville Craig, 1:56.01.
200 individual medley—1, Campbell Stoll, Arrowhead, 1:58.19; 7, Bailey Ratzburg, Milton, 2:05.06.
50 freestyle—1, Abby Wanezek, Brookfield East, :22.54 (state-meet record); 5, Sailor Whowell, Badger co-op, :23.36; 7, Mackenzie Thomas, Badger co-op, :23.69; 10, Callie Ceshker, Badger co-op, :23.98; 18, Dakota Reece, Janesville Craig, :24.46.
100 butterfly—1, Campbell Stoll, Arrowhead, :51.89.
100 freestyle—1, Abby Wanezek, Brookfield East, :49.35; 8, Bailey Ratzburg, Milton, :51.88; 12, Callie Ceshker, Badger co-op, :52.29; 23, Dakota Reece, Janesville Craig, :54.14.
500 freestyle—1, Reese Tiltmann, Brookfield East, 4:52.08; 11, Ally Donagan, Janesville Craig, 5:08.99.
200 freestyle relay—1, Brookfield East (Abby Wanezek, Audrey Olen, Reese Tiltmann, Lucy Thomas), 1:31.13 (state-meet record); 2, Badger co-op (Sailor Whowell, Zoe McNeill, Mackenzie Thomas, Callie Ceshker), 1:34.95; Milton, DQ.
100 backstroke—1, Maggie Wanezek, Brookfield East, :51.59 (state-meet record); 5, Sailor Whowell, Badger co-op, :56.53; 15, Ella Gorski, Edgerton/Evansville, :58.64.
100 breaststroke—1, Lucy Thomas, Brookfield East, 1:00.00 (state-meet record); 4, Mackenzie Thomas, Badger co-op, 1:03.93; 19, Jenna Schmitt, Edgerton/Evansville, 1:07.18.
400 freestyle relay—1, Brookfield East (Abby Wanezek, Audrey Olen, Reese Tiltmann, Maggie Wanezek), 3:19.32 (state-meet record); 17, Milton (Azia Koser, Alyssa Fons, Jade Fladhammer, Bailey Ratzburg), 3:39.62; 20, Badger co-op (Zoe McNeill, Ella Eck, Addi Nelson, Aspen Whowell), 3:40.74.