Senior’s backstroke victory paces team at conference final; Port gets strong diving effort
A shorthanded lineup didn’t keep the Grafton girls’ swimming and diving team from making the most of its talent in the North Shore Conference meet last Saturday.
Led by Kelsi Chesney’s victory in the 100-yard backstroke and several other top-five performances, the Black Hawks finished sixth at the eight-team meet in Port Washington.
Chesney, a senior, posted a winning time of 1 minute, 3.57 seconds, in the backstroke, upholding a tradition of Grafton strength in the event. In recent years, the Hawks excelled in the same race with Sadie Nennig, who graduated last year.
“It’s an event we’ve dominated in the past, and now it was Kelsi’s time to take over,” said Grafton coach Adan Burgos, whose team scored 238 points, just three behind fifth-place Germantown.
Chesney also finished third in the 100 butterfly (1:04.82).
Grafton stayed near the middle of the pack in the team standings despite having only 14 entries out of a possible 36 in the meet.
Homestead had no trouble repeating as team champion and scored 466 points, well ahead of runner-up Whitefish Bay’s 325.
Rounding out the standing were third-place Cedarburg (321 points), followed by Nicolet (286), Germantown, Grafton, Port Washington (153) and Milwaukee Lutheran (73).
Grafton’s other top-five performances were a second by Caitlin Hanney in the 200 individual medley (2:19.74); thirds by Katelyn Zarem in diving (334.95 points), Stephanie Haebig in the backstroke (1:04.88) and the 200 medley relay team of Haebig, Hanney, Chesney and Lisa Borden (2:00.47); fourths by Hanney in the 500 freestyle (5:31.14) and the 400 freestyle team of Chesney, Hanney, Haebig and Borden (3:54.17); and a fifth by Borden in the 100 freestyle (59.42).
“We were hoping to get in the top five as a team, and we just missed,” Burgos said. “Our main focus was to get good times and prepare for the Division 2 sectionals, which we did.”
Burgos singled out Zarem, a junior, for a strong diving performance in a field that included several Division 1 standouts.
The Hawks received sevenths from Haebig in the 500 freestyle (5:37.11) and the 200 freestyle team of Borden, Anna Hauer, Emma Saunders and Rochelle Schuette (1:55.59). Hauer was eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.57) and ninth in the individual medley (2:31.12).
Port’s best finishes came in diving, where sophomore Hayley Seitz took fourth (322.4 points) and junior Claire Kinzer was fifth (309).
The Pirates received sixths from Alex Anderson in the butterfly (1:07.12), the 200 freestyle team of Mary Nuedling, Dana Grady, Anderson and Tori Klotz (1:54.38) and the 400 freestyle team of Nuedling, Kelsey Zeman, Anderson and Klotz (4:11.73); a seventh from the medley team of Grady, Kelsey Brockman, Zeman and Nora Beppler (2:18.46) and a 10th from Klotz in the 500 freestyle (5:46.08).
This weekend, Grafton and Port will both participate in a WIAA Division 2 sectional at Plymouth High School.
The diving finals will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by swimming at 2 p.m. Saturday. Winners of each event will qualify for the state meet along with the next 12 top finishes from all sectionals.
The field will include defending state champion Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol and other perennial powers such as Plymouth and Whitefish Bay.
The state meet will be held Nov. 12 and 13 in Madison.
ALTHOUGH Grafton and Port Washington finished well back in the overall standings at last week’s North Shore Conference girls’ swimming and diving meet, both squads had a number of solid performances. Grafton’s scoring finishers included swimmer Caitlin Hanney (top left), who was second in the individual medley, and Erin Bagatta (top right), who was 15th in diving. Port’s top finishes were in diving, where Hayley Seitz (lower right) took fourth, and Claire Kinzer (right) was fifth. Photos by Sam Arendt