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Jerry off to state

The Wildcats' 400 yard freestyle relay team is all smiles after setting a new school record at the WIAA Division 1 swimming sectional Saturday in Hudson. From left are Madi Probst, head coach Lynn Huiskamp, Marla Probst, Chelsey Morrow, Grace Goblirsch and assistant coach Stephanie Reid. Submitted photo

Senior diver Carly Jerry qualified for her fourth straight trip to state and the Wildcats' 400 freestyle relay team set a new school record at the WIAA Division 1 swimming and diving sectional over the weekend in Hudson.

The Cats finished eighth in the 15-team standings with a total score of 141, five points ahead of ninth place Wausau West. Wausau East won the team title with 330.

Jerry placed third with a score of 360.3 to earn a spot at the state meet for the fourth straight year. She competed her freshman and sophomore years in Division 2 and the last two in Division 1. She has also competed at the state gymnastics championships three straight years.

"Carly is an exceptionally gifted athlete," Wildcat diving coach Roxie VanDeWater said. She has provided countless rewards, both on and off the board, to our team. She has the rare combination of extreme athleticism and quiet humbleness, as well as a never ending smile. Every coach should be so lucky to have a Carly."

Jerry will compete in the state diving competition at 10 a.m. Saturday at the UW Natatorium in Madison.

Junior swimmer Tessa Coggio took third in the 100 yard butterfly at Saturday's swimming sectional but fell just short of qualifying for the state meet. Coggio posted a personal best time of 1 minute, 2.25 seconds, in the event but it wasn't enough to earn her a spot in the highly-competitive state field.

"We cThanged Tessa's individual events a bit for sectionals, and it was great to see her rise to the challenge," head coach Lynn Huiskamp said. "Tessa is an amazing competitor who knows how to funnel her energy right where it needs to go. I think it would be genetically impossible for Tessa to mentally check out or give up in a race. Those qualities give her a great spot on the team."

Coggio also took 13th in the 50 freestyle in 26.09 seconds.

Among the other swimming highlights was the new school record set by junior Madi Probst, senior Chelsey Morrow, junior Grace Goblirsch and junior Marla Probst in the 400 freestyle relay. The team combined for a time of 3:55.27 to finish eighth.

"Madi Probst took out the first leg in a very competitive field and finished with her best 100 split ever," Huiskamp said. "The remaining three on the relay simply took Madi's lead and lengthened it. Chelsey Morrow, Grace Goblirsch and then Marla Probst as anchor just flew through the water. We hadn't been close to a 3:55 all season, so to see these four muster the will and determination for the last race of the meet was phenomenal."

The Cats' 200 freestyle relay team of Morrow, sophomore Sofia Carlson, senior Tara Sarno and Coggio also stood out with a seventh place time of 1:46.54, over one second faster than their seeded time, while the 200 medley relay team of Coggio, Goblirsch, Sarno and Marla Probst dropped nearly a second with a ninth place time of 2:00.97.

"All of our relays significantly dropped time, which illustrates the cohesiveness of the team," Huiskamp said.

Goblirsch added a ninth place time of 2:07.63, another personal best, in the 200 freestyle.

"Grace nearly evenly split her 100's which had me worried at the 100 mark," Huiskamp said. "I shouldn't have doubted, however, as Grace has a wonderful back half of races. Grace is such a strong swimmer, that I see her best times coming far into the future. She will be an athlete able to get stronger with age, and I'm already looking forward to next season with her."

Sarno finished 14th in the 100 butterfly in 1:06.51 and posted a personal best time of 26.86 seconds to finish 19th in the 50 free.

"Tara was our secret weapon from Belgium this season, and we had a lot of fun incorporating her on the team," Huiskamp said. "One of Tara's best strengths is her killer finishes. She never lets up, and goes full speed into the wall. After one of these amazing finishes, she walked on deck, cradling her hands and remarked, 'I exploded my fingers!' We will miss her on the team next year."

Morrow took nearly two full seconds off her personal best in the 100 backstroke to finish 13th in 1:07.16 and another two seconds off her best time in the 100 freestyle to finish 14th in 57.99 seconds.

"It has been such a privilege to coach an athlete like Chelsey," Huiskamp said about the co-captain. "She has the remarkable quality of having a great sense of humor while remaining sincere, dedicated and open to any challenge. She has been a great team captain and role model for everyone on the team."

Another captain -- Nara Tashjian -- finished 27th in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:16.01.

"As a freshman, Nara was fairly green to swimming, but showed good promise," Huiskamp said. "By mid-year of her senior year, Nara became one of our top flyers, backstrokers and freestylers. She showed amazing willingness and versatility to jump into any event or relay, wherever we needed her. Those leadership qualities of showing up every day, ready to make it a good day, make Nara a senior who will be sorely missed."

Huiskamp had high praise for a couple of sophomores -- Sofia Carlson and Katie Kidd -- who both posted personal best times in their respective events. Kidd placed 18th in the 200 individual medley in 2:33.93 while Carlson finished 36th in the 50 freestyle in 28.10.

"The 50 free can be such a beast to go after," Huiskamp said about Carlson's race. "Once certain speed levels are attained, it becomes increasingly difficult to decrease the time. Focus, diligence and patience are absolutely required. Sofia had all three, which made her times all the better to see on Saturday. Katie swam the 200 IM and nailed it. Katie definitely found consistent speed at the end of the season, which tells me she will have a great season next year too."

Huiskamp said it's been a rewarding season for the Wildcats.

"It was such a pleasure to coach the entire full team all season," she said. "From the most beginner swimmers to the seasoned seniors, we witnessed the transformative powers of a good team. We saw intimidating events and sets become eager challenges to greet and conquer. We began this season back in early August, worked hard, learned much about our depth of character, and finished with no regrets."

See more photos in this week's print edition of the River Falls Journal.