Swimmers sectional runners-upRiver Falls swept the top three spots in diving and the Wildcat swimmers earned seven trips to the awards podium on their way to their second straight runner-up finish at the WIAA Swimming and Diving Sectional competition last weekend, Nov. 4-7.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
River Falls swept the top three spots in diving and the Wildcat swimmers earned seven trips to the awards podium on their way to their second straight runner-up finish at the WIAA Swimming and Diving Sectional competition last weekend, Nov. 4-7.
Friday night at the diving competition in Hudson, Sierra Becker won her second straight sectional individual title while Rose Tashjian finished second and Britta Grebner placed third to all advance to the WIAA State Meet for the second year in a row.
Saturday in Stevens Point, the Wildcat swimmers capitalized on the points earned by the divers with seven top-eight finishes to give the Cats a final team score of 239, second only to Ashwaubenon’s 386 in the 15-team sectional.
“It was a great team finish, for both the swimmers and divers, to end in second place at sectionals for the second year in a row,” head coach Lynn Huiskamp said. “The entire season was remarkable in everyone’s ability to focus on each meet’s relevance. Everyone took the risk to share personal goals all season, and hone this unique skill of competitive swimming. They made me repeatedly proud of them for so many things on a weekly basis. It will be bittersweet to put this team into the history books.”
The Wildcat divers kicked things off by dominating the competition Friday night in Hudson. Becker, the Division 2 runner-up at state a year ago, won her second straight sectional title with a score of 355.95 while Tashjian took second with 323.5 and Grebner third with 322.05.
Tashjian placed eighth at the 2010 state meet while Grebner finished 10th.
“Simply amazing!” Wildcat diving coach Roxie VanDewater said about the trio’s return trip to state. “Madison will once again know where River Falls is on the map, with three out of 16 of the best divers in the state. I am excited to see what is in store for them. No matter what they do in Madison on Friday, they are already champions. I am so proud of their contribution to the swim and dive team, and their accomplishments both on and off the board.”
The WIAA Diving Championships get underway Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the UW Natatorium in Madison.
In addition to the three senior divers, Huiskamp said a pair of senior swimmers made significant contributions to the team’s section runner-up finish.
Sofia Carlson helped all three Wildcat relays reach the awards podium and swam to a 10th place finish in the 100 yard butterfly.
“Relay events, scoring double the individual events, are key to a team’s ability to advance and Sofia was the one best suited to do that for us,” the coach said.
Senior Katie Kidd ended her high school career with a lifetime best split in the 200 medley relay and lifetime best times of 1 minute, 15.06 seconds in the 100 breaststroke to place 10th, and 2:31.47 in the 200 individual medley to finish 11th.
The Cats’ 200 medley relay team of freshman Kate Barnes, Kidd, Carlson and sophomore Leah Morrow combined for a time of 2:00.1, while the 200 freestyle relay team of Carlson, sophomore Shannon Moe, Barnes and junior Mandy Hedeen finished in 1:47.8. Both times were season-bests and good enough for fifth place.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Carlson, Moe, Morrow and Hedeen reached the awards stand in a tough field with a seventh place time of 4:02.49.
Moe earned a spot on the podium in two individual events by posting a pair of personal best times. She took eighth in the 200 individual medley in 2:28.25, and eighth in the 100 butterfly in 1:08.0.
“Shannon often takes care to shield her emotions, but they were easy to read this day,” Huiskamp said.
Barnes picked up a seventh place finish in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:09.72, and just missed a trip to the awards stand in the 100 butterfly, finishing just behind Moe in 1:08.52.
Junior Emma Langer earned the Wildcats’ other trip to the awards podium with an eighth place time of 6:05.85 in the 500 freestyle.
“She took the race out so fast that she did have some difficulty hanging onto that pace,” Huiskamp said. “Despite that, Emma finished exactly as she was seeded and gave the team 11 points. After the race, she explained, ‘I couldn’t control my speed. It just happened all at once!’”
Hedeen contributed a ninth place time of 2:10.99 in the 200 freestyle and a 13th place time of 1:00.02 in the 100 freestyle.
“If there is ability for Mandy to pick off a close competitor, she always finds a way to dig deeper and do it,” Huiskamp said.
Morrow also finished 11th in a pair of events — the 50 freestyle in 27.38 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 59.48 seconds.
“While watching Leah warm-up, it looked like she just might swim right out of the pool ends,” Huiskamp said. “Her speed and strength has improved tremendously this year, and I’m looking forward to a couple more years with her talent.”
Junior Julia Rydberg contributed a 13th place time of 1:11.97 in the 100 backstroke and an 18th place time of 2:36.83 in the 200 individual medley.
“After a serious injury last year, she made incredible time drops, especially in the last half of this season,” Huiskamp said. “She looked and got faster by the week.”