Freshman’s double win paces Grafton at sectional; five local divers earn trips
High expectations don’t usually accompany freshmen making their first appearances in state competition.GRAFTON SENIOR Caitlyn Hanney qualified for this week’s WIAA Division 2 state meet in one individual event and as a member of two relay teams. Photo by Sam Arendt
But Grafton’s Sam Senczyszyn is anything but your typical first-year high school swimmer.
Besides leading the Black Hawks with two individual state-qualifying performances at a WIAA Division 2 sectional meet in Plymouth last Saturday, Senczyszyn has emerged as a title favorite in each race.
She won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.94 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.39, defeating state record holder Kate Criter of Plymouth in the latter event. Criter was second in 1:04.37.
Senczyszyn had the fastest Division 2 qualifying times in her victories and was also a member of two state-qualifying, fifth-place relay teams.
The 200 medley team of Caitlin Hanney, Senczyszyn, Rachel Hauer and Kaitlyn Gallun (1:53.4) advanced, as did the 400 freestyle team of Hanney, Katelyn Brooks, Stephanie Haebig and Senczyszyn (3:44.71).
“Sam definitely had a great meet,” said Grafton coach Adan Burgos, whose team emerged from a tough sectional field with eight individual qualifying performances and two qualifying relays.
“To go into the state meet seeded first in two events is impressive.”
A nationally ranked club swimmer, Senczyszyn was expected to be one of the Hawks’ best this fall. However, with her first varsity season interrupted by her participation in an international meet and a session at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado, there were some questions, Burgos said.
“It’s been kind of a choppy season for her with some missed time with the team,” he said. “But Sam rose to the occasion in this meet, which is one of the toughest in the state.”
Host Plymouth won the sectional team title with 332 points, edging runner-up Shorewood (318) and third-place Whitefish Bay (202) in a battle of perennial powers.
Grafton was next with 272 points, well ahead of fifth-place Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol (228) in the 13-team standings.
Port Washington, the other local team in the meet, was ninth with 101 points.
The winners of each sectional event qualified for this week’s state meet in Madison along with the next 12 best finishes statewide.
Diving provided a bounty of state-worthy performers, including all three of Port’s qualifiers and two from Grafton.
Junior Haley Seitz led the Pirates with a second-place score of 356.06 points, trailing only Plymouth’s Taylor Knuth (379.35).
Also advancing were Grafton’s Kaitlyn Zarem (third, 354), Port’s Kristen Smith (fifth, 314.15) and Claire Kinzer (sixth, 305.3) and Grafton’s Paige Schommer (seventh, 282.75).
Zarem and Kinzer are seniors, Smith is a sophomore, and Schommer is a freshman.
Seitz, Zarem and Kinzer all earned return trips to Madison, where Zarem led the trio last year with a fourth-place finish.
The Hawks’ other state qualifiers were Hanney, a senior, in the 100 backstroke (third, 1:02.19); Haebig, a sophomore, in the 500 freestyle (5:22.61); and Hauer, a freshman, in the 100 butterfly (fifth, 1:01.29) and breaststroke (seventh, 1:11.56).
In 2010, Hanney reached state in the individual medley and 500 freestyle, and Haebig was a member of two state-qualifying relays.
Burgos was pleased with the performance of his team, which last year qualified five individual finishes and two relays for state from the same sectional meet. Nearly all his swimmers posted personal-best times Saturday, he noted.
“We got through just about everyone I thought we might,” Burgos said. “I’m really excited about the way the girls performed and what they could do in Madison.”
Grafton had a shot at advancing its 400 relay team, but its seventh-place time of 1:45.78 fell short of the 1:43.96 qualifying standard. Even so, not having a third relay at state will give the Hawks more flexibility in changing their other relay lineups, Burgos said.
Port coach Maureen Jajtner was pleased to have three of her team’s four divers in the sectional meet earn Madison trips. The Pirates’ other diver was junior Madeline Walls, whose 10th-place score of 264.4 narrowly missed the 276.55 qualifying mark.
“The divers did a very nice job,” she said. “It was fantastic that three made it through.”
The Pirates’ top finishes in swimming were ninth-place efforts from the team of Kelsey Zeman, Mary Nuedling, Kelsey Brockman and Alex Anderson in the 200 freestyle (1:56.21) and 400 freestyle (4:11.5).
The Division 2 state meet will be held Friday, Nov. 11, at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
Diving starts at 2:30 p.m., followed by swimming at 6:30 p.m.