Cats qualify for state meetBob Burrows photo Members of the Wildcats’ 400 freestyle relay team and head coach Lynn Huiskamp are all smiles after the team set a new school record to take first place at the WIAA Swimming Sectional Saturday in Ashwaubenon. From left are Tessa Coggio, Grace Goblirsch, Marla Probst, Huiskamp and Madi Probst.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The Wildcat girls’ swimming and diving team will be sending four divers, one individual and one relay team to the WIAA State Championships in Madison this weekend, Nov. 12.
The Cats qualified all four of their divers at the Nov. 5 sectional competition in Hudson, with Sierra Becker winning the sectional championship with a score of 367.3, Rose Tashjian runner-up with 316.3, Britta Grebner fourth with 305.3 and Megan Brown fifth with 287.05.
Becker earned an automatic berth at state while Tashjian, Grebner and Brown grabbed spots as extra qualifiers. All four divers posted personal best scores at the sectional.
The Cats also won a sectional title in the 400 freestyle relay at the Nov. 6 swimming competition in Ashwaubenon, where Madi Probst, Grace Goblirsch, Marla Probst and Tessa Coggio set a new school record of 3 minutes, 52.2 seconds. Coggio also earned a berth at state in the 100 butterfly with a second place time of 1:01.55.
Overall, the Cats finished as sectional runners-up with a total team score of 295. Ashwaubenon took first with 303.
Wildcat diving coach Roxie VanDeWater said she’s thrilled to know that one-quarter of the divers competing at the Division 2 state meet will be from River Falls.
“It was a fantastic night of diving, and this peak in every diver’s performance could not have come at a better time,” she said about the sectional. “I am so proud of them. That even with the intense pressure that they felt, they were able to show what I’ve known they had in them.
“The big dives got big scores, so that added up quickly,” she added.
Head coach Lynn Huiskamp said she juggled the lineups of the Cats’ relay teams, and it paid off in the final event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay.
Madi Probst opened the race with her fastest 100 free split of the season as the Cats sat in sixth place after the opening leg. Goblirsch followed with a blistering second leg to move the team into third. Marla Probst had the Cats neck-and-neck with Ashwaubenon for the lead before Coggio turned in an anchor leg that not only resulted in a first place finish by two seconds, but a new school record.
“We ended the day exhausted, elated, tearful and exuberantly satisfied with each other, and with the amazing things we had accomplished together,” Huiskamp said.
Earlier in the meet Coggio dropped two seconds off her previous best time in the 100 butterfly to earn a berth at state as the Cats’ sole individual qualifier.
“Tessa shared the determination of all the swimmers on Saturday, and went after the highest place possible,” Huiskamp said. “Along with the fly, Tessa hit the 50 free for another lifetime best time of 25.47 and fifth place finish.”
While not qualifying for the state meet, a number of Wildcats ended their season by reaching the awards podium in their respective events.
In addition to helping the 400 freestyle relay team to a sectional title. Goblirsch also finished third in the 500 freestyle in 5:43.99 and fourth in the 200 freestyle in 2:06.23.
“With Grace’s wonderful ability to be either jubilant or neutral on an issue or outcome, she has become the steady rock of the team this season,” Huiskamp said.
Goblirsch was joined on the awards stand in the 500 free by teammate Emma Langer, who finished seventh with a time of 5:58.01.
“Emma wanted to have a goal time for her 500 race, so we set one,” Huiskamp said. “Then we attached a silly reward of an oversized piece of candy if she hit the goal time. It was either the candy or the wonderful insanity that took over Emma as she blew away her heat, taking off 13 seconds and making her way onto the podium. No one deserved that great finish more than Emma.”
Katie Kidd turned in a pair of lifetime best times, reaching the awards stand in the 200 individual medley with a seventh place time of 2:31.7, and finishing ninth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:16.4.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Sofia Carlson, Mandy Hedeen, Marla Probst and Coggio came up just short of a state berth, finishing fourth with a time of 1:45.26.
The Cats’ 200 medley relay team of Madi Probst, Kidd, Carlson and Leah Morrow also earned a medal with an eighth place time of 2:03.13.
“They took 1.5 seconds off their best time with freshman Leah Morrow really hitting a fast split,” Huiskamp said. “The re-seeded line-up could have landed them in tenth, but they easily put competitors behind them to find a podium position in eighth place.”
The WIAA Division 2 State Swimming and Diving Championships will take place this Friday, Nov. 12 at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison. Diving competition will begin at 2:30 p.m. with swimming set to start at 6:30 p.m.