Swimmers ready to defend their crown
Thus far, this year's postseason competition has shaped up much like last year's state-championship run for Waukesha South/Mukwonago swimmers. Next week, the defending state champions will take a shot at a repeat.
Just like last year, South/Mukwonago held off conference foe Arrowhead - the team that won the Classic 8 Conference league meet - to emerge victorious from the South sectional Saturday. The score of 396 was identical to last year's total, with Arrowhead finishing second at 381 (357 last year).
The difference: South/Mukwonago advanced 16 entries to the state meet after sending 21 last year. Arrowhead actually sent two more entrants to Saturday's gathering at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison, though the Warhawks don't have the same power at the top of heat sheets like the Blackshirts do.
Coach Blaine Carlson was pleased with his team's haul, even with a couple swims left achingly close to making the cut and falling just short. Event winners at the six sectionals, plus the next 18 times from around the state, get into the field.
"We had a good chance to get them all through if everybody swam the way they are capable of, and obviously a couple were close," he said. "The team was fired up to swim this time of year."
Grin and Baert it
All three relays made it through, including the medley relay that took second place (1:48.38) with Mukwonago's Lizzy Baertlein and South swimmers Addison Skogman, Natalie Clausen and Alicia Beam.
The medley relay, always the leadoff event, will provide its share of intrigue, Carlson said. Several squads have comparable times, making for what could be a chaotic and crucial component in the final standings.
"The medley relay is a real deep event this year, and a lot of teams could get shuffled around in the mix," Carlson said. "The four girls that we have on that relay are ready to go."
Baertlein also advanced in the butterfly, taking sixth place (59.31), and she won her specialty, the backstroke (57.37).
"She had a slow start at the beginning of the year, but she always seems to come on strong at the end," Carlson said. "She's right where we thought she needed to be. She made a couple small mistakes during that race and was still able to hold off and win. She's done a really good job working on the stroke corrections we've been trying to make, and she's focused on what she needs to do."
At the top
Abby Jagdfeld was her typical self as well. Baertlein's junior classmate at MHS swam 1:48.75, a dominant performance in the 200-yard freestyle that led a 1-2-3 finish for the Blackshirts. Jagdfeld holds the top seed in that event, with the state record owned by Aja Van Hout of Madison East (set in 2010) at 1:48.09.
Last year, Sam Pochowski of Muskego swam 1:48.41 to win gold, and Jagdfeld took second in 1:49.89.
It certainly won't be Jagdfeld's only appearance in the Natatorium pool. She has the top seed again in the 100 free (51.04) after topping Arrowhead freshman Kelly Jacob by eight-tenths of a second at the sectional.
Jagdfeld took third in that event last year (51.70), with the winning time belonging to Haley Pietila of Arrowhead (51.15). Cortnee Adams of Appleton North holds the state record in the event (49.77), set in 1998.
Jagdfeld will also be a key member of two other relays, notably the top-seeded 200 free relay, where the Blackshirts are 1 ½ seconds faster than the second-best time. Molly Manchon, Clausen and Kaersten Meitz are on board.
The 400 free relay, another sectional champ, features Jagdfeld, Beam, Manchon and Meitz (3:31.11). Last year, the 400 provided a thrilling finish to the state meet, with South/Mukwonago winning the title in the final event.
Meitz is also the top seed in the 500 free (4:53.09), outracing Clausen (4:56.55) for first place. Not to be outdone, Clausen won a sectional title in the individual medley (2:07.51).
Meitz also took second in the 200 free, just ahead of Manchon.
Mukwonago senior Megan Andersen swam 5:15.17 in the 500 free to qualify for her final state meet. She's one of five swimmers from the Blackshirts co-op in the state field.
Diving begins at 10 a.m. at the state meet, with finals beginning at 3 p.m. in swimming events.
On to state
Qualifiers in the WIAA state swimming and diving meet from Waukesha South/Mukwonago:
Medley relay: Lizzy Baertlein, Addison Skogman, Natalie Clausen and Alicia Beam (1:48.38)
200 freestyle: Abby Jagdfeld (1:48.75), Kaersten Meitz (1:48.75), Molly Manchon (1:51.86)
100 butterfly: Baertlein (59.31)
Individual medley: Clausen (2:07.51), Skogman (2:09.71)
500 freestyle: Meitz (4:53.09), Clausen (4:56.55), Madeline Farrell (5:12.46), Skogman (5:10.22), Megan Andersen (5:15.17)
200 free relay: Jagdfeld, Manchon, Clausen, Meitz (1:35.80)
100 freestyle: Jagdfeld (51.04), Manchon (52.58)
400 free relay: Jagdfeld, Beam, Manchon. Meitz (3:31.11)
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