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Prep girls swimming preview: Middleton, Madison Edgewood set out to defend their state titles

August 30, 2018

AREA RANKINGS

1. Middleton; 2. McFarland; 3. Madison Edgewood; 4. Verona/Mount Horeb; 5. Madison Memorial; 6. Sun Prairie; 7. Madison West; 8. Waunakee; 9. Baraboo; 10. DeForest; 11. Monroe/New Glarus.

SWIMMERS TO WATCH

Grace Bennin, sr., Verona/Mount Horeb: Minnesota recruit Bennin is the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke.

Alex Moderski, sr., McFarland: Moderski, who has orally committed to Missouri, is the defending Division 2 champion in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.

Gabriela Pierobon Mays, jr., Middleton: Pierobon Mays is the defending Division 1 100 butterfly state champion and helped lead Middleton to its second consecutive state swimming and diving title.

Katrina Marty, sr., Madison West: Arizona State recruit Marty is the two-time defending Division 1 champion in the 100 backstroke.

Mekenzie Hammer, so., Monroe/New Glarus: Hammer is the defending Division 2 champion in the 100 backstroke.

Kaitlyn Barth, sr., Madison Edgewood: Nebraska recruit Barth was second in the Division 2 100 freestyle, third in the 50 freestyle and part of the winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays at state.

Sophie Fiske, so., Sun Prairie: Fiske, a top sprinter, finished third in the 50 freestyle and fourth in the 100 freestyle at the Division 1 state meet last year.

DeeDee Walker, jr., Madison Edgewood: Walker finished second in the 200 freestyle, third in the 500 freestyle and was part of the Crusaders’ winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays at Division 2 state last year.

Maeve O’Driscoll, jr., Madison Edgewood: O’Driscoll was second in the 50 freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and was a member of Edgewood’s winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays at Division 2 state last year.

THINGS TO WATCH

Back and better than ever: Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka’s team, which won its second consecutive Division 1 state championship last year, has considerable experience and depth, “some incredible talent” and “some hidden gems,” Cabalka said, adding:“I would say this is one of our strongest teams we have had, but we need to stay focused on our goals as a team and take one step at a time.”

On a crusade: Madison Edgewood coach Emily Schwabe’s team won the Division 2 championship for the third consecutive year, set a new team scoring total and established three new records. “It was a year made of history,” Schwabe said. The Crusaders won all three relays and had two individual state champions at the state meet, though they must replace Kelly Rodriguez and Jenna Silvestri this season.

Challenger in Division 2: McFarland, directed by second-year coach Jessica Garvey, is eager to challenge Edgewood in the Badger South Conference and at the Division 2 state meet, after finishing third at state a year ago. McFarland earned an 88-82 dual victory over Edgewood early this season.

Big Eight chase: All the teams are pursuing powerhouse Middleton. That should mean a spirited fight between Verona/Mount Horeb, Madison Memorial, Sun Prairie and Madison West.

Deep dive: Monona Grove’s Nikki Benedict won the Division 2 diving title as a senior in 2017, while teammate Trinity McNall placed third as a freshman last year.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS

Based on information provided by coaches

BIG EIGHT

Middleton: The defending Big Eight Conference champion Cardinals seem poised to make another title run after claiming the Division 1 state crown for the second consecutive season in 2017. They lost only three letter winners and return 18. Junior Gabriela Pierobon Mays, the repeat Division 1 state champion in the 100 butterfly, member of the state-winning 200 medley relay and third-place finisher in the 100 backstroke is back from an injury and ready to compete, Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said. Pierobon Mays is complemented by sophomore Ally Silvestri (third at state in 100 breaststroke, part of winning 200 medley relay); junior Alex Anagnostpoulos (fifth at state in breaststroke); senior Hannah Aegerter (fourth at state in 200 freestyle, part of winning 200 free relay); senior Emily Keebler (sixth at state in 200 individual medley); senior Cora Mack (member of winning 200 free relay, sixth at state in 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle); and senior Makenna Licking (200 and 500 freestyle competitor). Cabalka also expects contributions from freshmen Amanda George, Molly Haag, Ella Needham and Abby Utter.

Verona/Mount Horeb: Coach Bill Wuerger, in his 15th season, welcomes back senior Grace Bennin, a Minnesota recruit and the Division 1 state champion in the 100 breaststroke and 50 freestyle. Verona/Mount Horeb, which placed fourth as a team at state, also returns state qualifiers in seniors Gabby Gnewuch (freestyle) and senior Caroline Smith (breaststroke) and juniors Josie McCartney (butterfly), Sara Stewart (backstroke) and Kaitlyn Zuehl (individual medley). Freshman Kenzie Zuehl has shown promise, Wuerger said.

Madison Memorial: Coach Stacey Johansson’s Spartans will be led by Carly McKeon (distance events, 10th in 500 freestyle at state), Ella DeFever (freestyle, backstroke, butterfly), Allison Spielman (freestyle, backstroke) and Sophia Schmitz (individual medley, distance events). The Spartans scored a significant early-season dual victory, topping Sun Prairie 92-78. Madison Memorial finished eighth at Division 1 state in 2017.

Sun Prairie: Sophomore Sophie Fiske (freestyle, third in 50 freestyle and fourth in 100 freestyle at state) leads 20 letter winners returning for 18th-year coach Nancy Harms. Other strong competitors include senior Michaela Nelson (individual medley, breaststroke, distance freestyle); Janelle Schulz (distance freestyle, individual medley, breaststroke); Cassidy Carey (butterfly, backstroke); Bree Moericke (freestyle), Lydia Collins (butterfly, freestyle, individual medley); Grace Sala (butterfly, backstroke, individual medley); Hannah Marshall (freestyle); and Emily Anderson (freestyle). Harms welcomes a strong freshman class. Sun Prairie finished ninth at Division 1 state last year.

Madison West: Thirteen letter winners return for coach Amanda Ellmaker, who believes Madison West will have more depth than in past years. Leading the Regents is Arizona State University recruit Katrina Marty, a senior who won the 100 backstroke at Division 1 state in 2016 and 2017, finished third in the 100 butterfly at state last year and was described by Ellmaker as “one of the best racers I have ever coached.” Sophomore Bridget Sullivan (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke) also returns, after being a state qualifier last year. Other seniors who figure to contribute include Naomi Kissel, Clara Soto and Molly Messner.

Beloit Memorial: Eight letter winners return for 17th-year coach Kim Waite, who expects her team to have quality relays and to finish in the middle of the conference pack. Only two seniors are on varsity. Senior Amya Bessel and sophomore Jayda Bessel return after swimming on the state qualifying 200 free relay. Juniors Katie Landon, Madeline Champney-Johns and Abigail Champney-Johns and sophomores Sydney Prowse, Prasia Jackson and Noa Levy also figure to contribute.

Madison East: First-year coach Sophia Parr anticipates the Purgolders to be led by junior Kozette Rosenthal, notably in the 100 breaststroke; junior Sydney Marz (100 butterfly); senior Bridget Schlichting (500 freestyle); junior Erin Price (100 backstroke); and junior Eliot Hughes (50 and 100 freestyle). Rosenthal and Marz will make East formidable in the 200 medley relay.

Madison La Follette: Senior Mae Jaeger (breaststroke) will be a captain for the second consecutive season, while sophomore Jadyn Schensky (500 freestyle) and freshman sprinter Zaria Terry (50 freestyle) will be key contributors for first-year coach Megan Andersen.

Janesville Craig: Charlotte Davies, the team’s new coach, has a good distribution of swimmers through the grades. Seniors include Sommer Rhodes, Kayla Oja, Allison Blank, Amber Jacobson and Carly Schmoldt.

BADGER NORTH

Waunakee: The Warriors, who have won three consecutive conference titles, return a strong nucleus of seniors and juniors, according to coach Rich Lampe. Returning are two state qualifiers, senior Kaitlyn Wilhelms (100 and 200 freestyle) and junior Abi Schmeiser (100 butterfly). Seniors Emma Grindle (freestyle sprints, breaststroke), Maddie Bruner (freestyle sprints) and Isabel Vinson, juniors Ani Graf (breaststroke, individual medley), Megan Maxfield (200 and 500 freestyle) and Ali Hoffman (distance events, butterfly) and sophomores Ela Graf (backstroke, individual medley), Hannah Grindle (backstroke, freestyle events) and Ashlyn Jakacki (individual medley, breaststroke) also will contribute. Freshman Makenzie Wallace could make an immediate impact, Lampe said.

Baraboo: Lynn Keeling, the Thunderbirds’ 18th-year coach, believes Baraboo, which was seventh at Division 2 state in 2017, has strong relays and can make a run at Waunakee for the league title and a high finish at state. Baraboo will be led by seniors Kirby Tock, fourth at state in the 100 butterfly, Taylor Bradley, eighth at state in the breaststroke, and Hannah Vittengl; juniors Giselle Riem and Emily Bradley; sophomores Naomi Pelland, Mattie Letendre and Maria Vittengl and freshmen Natalie Gneiser and Ella Lohr. Baraboo’s 200 medley relay was fourth at state.

DeForest: The Norskies, sixth at the Division 2 state meet in 2017, return Haley Willis, Camryn Hargraves, Marnie Martin, Mackenzi Matson and Ava Boehning. Willis, a junior, was third in the 200 individual medley at state. She and senior Hargraves were part of DeForest’s fifth-place 200 medley relay at state, while Hargraves finished sixth in the 50 and 100 freestyle. The Norskies’ 400 free relay placed fourth at state.

Sauk Prairie: Melani Guentherman returns to the head coaching job after a few years not coaching the girls team. Seniors Mariah Chao and Grace Williams, state qualifiers last year, are back and are co-captains. Also returning are juniors Alexa Judd, who was part of the team’s state 200 freestyle relay that finished fifth, and Giulia Brickl (breaststroke). Five freshmen have been added, with Kassandra Miller, Ashley Pape and Amelia Hunter expected to have an immediate impact, Guentherman said.

Portage: Fourth-year coach Tammy Tollefson welcomes a roster led by four seniors and five juniors, including junior Brooklyn Miller, a state qualifier in the 200 freestyle last year.

Lodi/Wisconsin Heights: Alana Gilles and Kara Loy are expected to lead the Lodi co-op team.

River Valley/Richland Center co-op: After losing six seniors and having only eight swimmers, River Valley will co-op with Richland Center for the first time this season, coach Mike Nachreiner said. Four swimmers from Richland Center increased the team total to 12, though nine will be new to high school swimming, including four freshman. Juniors Morgan Nabors (butterfly, 200 freestyle) and Rebecca Gilbertson (backstroke, individual medley) lead the way. Senior Aleah O’Dell (backstroke) is a three-year letter winner.

BADGER SOUTH

Madison Edgewood: The Crusaders, coached by Emily Schwabe, won the Badger South crown and a third straight Division 2 state title last year and bring back plenty of experience, plus adding talented freshmen. Leading Edgewood will be seniors Kaitlyn Barth (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly) and Issy Petersen (50 and 100 freestyle) and juniors Maeve O’Driscoll (50 and 100 freestyle), DeeDee Walker (200 and 500 freestyle) and Mallory Todd (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly). Freshmen to watch include Anna teDuits, Abby Reid and Claire Sweeney.

McFarland: The Spartans, third at Division 2 state, are expected to duel Edgewood for the conference title. Senior Alex Moderski, a Missouri recruit, returns after winning the 50 and 100 freestyle events at last year’s Division 2 state meet. She’s won the 50 freestyle at state in her three previous seasons and the 100 freestyle as a freshman and junior. The Spartans also return several other state qualifiers – junior Emily Landwehr (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke); junior Ella Weaver (freestyle, breaststroke); junior Bella Dettmers (freestyle); and junior Abbie Harrington (backstroke). Coach Jessica Garvey expects juniors Jessica Dant and Zosia Martinka and freshmen Adriana Nickels, Mara Freeman, Emily Schoenbrodt, Laura Billmann, Brooklyn Ray and Hadley Johnson also to contribute. McFarland’s 400 free relay placed second at state; Weaver was third and Landwehr fifth in the 100 breaststroke.

Monroe/New Glarus: Coach Linda Moser, who begins her 17th season as head coach, guided her team to an eighth-place finish at the Division 2 state meet last year. Sophomore Mekenzie Hammer returns after winning the Division 2 state title in the 100 backstroke in 58.22 seconds and placing fifth in the 200 individual medley. During the season she set a new team record in the 100 backstroke (:57.80). Other state competitors back include seniors Cammi Ganshert and Nina Schiro and sophomore Francesca Schiro. The team has 12 freshmen, the most since 2000. Monroe/New Glarus turned in strong state performances last year in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, establishing new team records. Moser would like to see her squad break the 15-year-old 200 freestyle relay team record and believes it is possible.

Stoughton: The Vikings, 10th at the Division 2 state meet in 2017, will count on Sofia Bormett (sixth in the 200 freestyle and seventh in the 100 freestyle at state), Ava Schigur and Evelyn Schaefer.

Fort Atkinson: Coach Evan Hill’s team will be led by senior Mariah Marowsky, who has qualified for state in her first three seasons. She advanced to state in the 100 and 200 freestyle as a freshman and sophomore (placing fourth in the 200 as a sophomore) and the 200 and 500 freestyle as a junior (finishing fifth in the 200 and seventh in the 500). Marowsky, Emmi Belzer, Mikayla Pennewell and Brooke Hartwig were part of the team’s 200 freestyle relay that finished tied for sixth at state with McFarland. Junior Belzer and sophomore Pennewell are strong butterfly competitors.

Monona Grove: Kelly (Engbring) Pastika begins her first year as the Silver Eagles’ coach. Leading Monona Grove will be Brianna Back, Cassandra Keller, Mary O’Malley, Liv Seymour, Lexie Gennerman and Sierra McNall. The Silver Eagles’ Nikki Benedict won the Division 2 state diving title last year as a senior.

Milton: Danielle Cramer was ninth as a sophomore in the 100 backstroke at Division 1 state last year.

Oregon/Belleville: Zoe Rule and Mattea Thomason are among the team’s top competitors.

AROUND THE AREA

Edgerton’s top freestyle sprinters include senior Bailey Dowd, sophomore Lexi Schultz, freshman Ruby Schieldt and junior Gaby de Moya-Cotter (who finished ninth in the 200 individual medley and ninth in the 100 butterfly at Division 2 state).

Among the leaders for Jefferson/Cambridge are seniors Halle Peterson, Megan Duffy and Olivia Gallardo and sophomores Josie Peterson, Sophie Peterson and Brooke Whiting. Jefferson/Cambridge’s 200 freestyle relay placed second at Division 2 state.

WIAA POSTSEASON DATES

Nov. 2 – Diving sectionals.

Nov. 3 – Swimming sectionals.

Nov. 9 – Division 2 state swimming and diving meet, University of Wisconsin Natatorium.

Nov. 10 – Division 1 state swimming and diving meet, UW Natatorium.

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