Team marks fall as Grafton boys make most of their time in WIAA Div. 2 state swimming, diving competition
If you really want to end the season in style, breaking a few records is a dandy way to do it.
The Grafton boys’ swimming and diving team took that approach to heart at last Friday’s WIAA Division 2 state meet in Madison by setting school marks in three events.
Sophomore Al Nennig turned in two of the Black Hawks’ record times in individual events, placing second in the 100-yard breaststroke (in 57.95 seconds) and fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.90).
Nennig was also part of a record-setting 400 freestyle team that finished ninth (3:26.26). He anchored a lineup that also included sophomore Brad Kempka and seniors Chris Rose and Austin Schaut.
“The guys swam really well. It was a great way to finish the season,” said Grafton coach Mark Minz, whose squad scored 53 points, good for 16th in the 28-team standings.
“They continued to improve throughout the season and had their best performances at the end.”
Grafton’s other state place finisher was freshman Zach Greenwood, who took 13th in diving (259.95 points).
Nennig, who led the Hawks throughout the season, took a different path to the Division 2 finals after qualifying last year in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
He lowered his seed times in both the breaststroke and 50 freestyle at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium. The most impressive drop (1.45 seconds) came in the breaststroke, where he broke the team mark of 58.28 set by Eric Mueller at the 1993 state meet.
“Al’s got the talent, and he’s got great desire,” Minz said. “For him to do it in two new events was pretty impressive.”
The Hawks’ 400 freestyle team broke the school record of 3:26.50, first set in 1984 and tied at a sectional meet Feb. 12. The foursome rebounded in the final event of the state meet after being disqualified in the 200 freestyle relay for a false start.
“It was disappointing to have a disqualification, but the guys bounced back,” Minz said.
Greenwood, who was in his first year of competitive diving and didn’t come out for the team until mid-season, capped a remarkable run. He had the best score among three freshmen divers who qualified for the Division 2 state meet.
“Zach really stepped forward as a young kid and did a great job,” Minz said. “He has amazing coordination and picked up the sport quickly.”
Although the Hawks will lose a number of swimmers to graduation — including tri-captains Rose, Josh Govek and Brandon Marshall — they have a nucleus of young talent for next season.
“It’s been a really good season for us,” Minz said. “If the kids keep working hard in the off-season, they have a chance to be very good again next year.”
McFarland won the Division 2 state title with 286 points, edging second-place Monona Grove, which had 279.
Among other local teams, Cedarburg placed fifth with 131 points, and Whitefish Bay was ninth with 106.