Grafton advances 6 girls to Div. 2 final in Madison; Jajtner, divers qualify for Port
Members of the Grafton girls’ swimming and diving squad will be on a mission this Friday in Madison.
Although the Black Hawks won’t be among the favorites for a team title, they should make several trips to the medals stand in the WIAA Division 2 state meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
“If we swim our best races, the chips will fall where they will, and we will do all right,” said Grafton coach Adan Burgos, whose team had eight individual and two relay performances qualify for state at last Saturday’s Plymouth Sectional.
“Last year, our swimmers all had their best times and did well, and we’ll take the same approach this time.”
Senior Sadie Nennig will again lead the Hawks. She qualified in two individual events — winning the 100-yard backstroke (59.53 seconds) and taking second in the 200 individual medley (2:12.53) — and will be part of both state-bound relay teams, which each finished third.
Nennig was joined by sophomore Caitlin Hanney, junior Kelsi Chesney and senior Morgan Wilkey on the 200 medley team (1:52.85) and the 400 freestyle team (3:43.71).
Grafton’s other individual state qualifiers are divers Molly McElligott (second with 382 points) and Katelyn Zarem (third with 364.3), Hanney in the individual medley (fourth in 2:15.94) and 500 freestyle (sixth in 5:25.27), Wilkey in the 50 freestyle (25.54) and
Chesney in the 100 butterfly (sixth in 1:01.88).
McElligott is a senior, and Zarem is a sophomore.
Port Washington will be represented at state by swimmer Erin Jajtner and divers Claire Kinzer and Hayley Seitz.
Jajtner, a senior, advanced in the 200 freestyle (fifth in 2:01.72) and 500 freestyle (seventh in 5:27.07).
Kinzer, a sophomore, placed fifth with 295.05 points, and Seitz, a freshman, was sixth with 284.3.
The winners of each sectional event qualify for the state level along with the next 12 top finishers from all sectionals. Although no Grafton or Port swimmers or divers are top-seeded, they are expected to be among the leaders in Madison.
“We have a lot of state-meet experience, so we should do well,” said Burgos, whose state qualifiers will all be making return trips to Madison.
“Our goal is to have them be in the top six and make the podium.”
Nennig, one of the state’s top swimmers since her freshman year, will be among the favorites in both of her individual races.
She won state backstroke titles in 2006 and 2007 and finished second last year, when she also placed fourth in the butterfly.
The Hawks also have high hopes for their divers. McElligott finished third at state last year, while Zarem was fourth.
“Diving has always been a strong point for us and gets us off to a strong start in meets,” Burgos said. “I believe we have the best diving program and coach (Dennis Hubert) in the state.”
Jajtner is the only Port qualifier with state experience, having advanced in the 500 freestyle last year.
“She had a good meet, and we’re happy to have her going in two events,” Pirates coach Maureen Jajtner said of her daughter’s sectional performance.
The Port coach also praised the efforts of her young divers, who will represent their team in Madison one year after it had a state champion in Laura VandeBoom.
“They’re young, but they are talented,” Jajtner said. “Obviously, as first-time state competitors, they’re a little green, but I think they’ll do fine.”
Jajtner praised the work of Pirates’ diving coach Dustin Kesner, a former standout diver at Port High.
Burgos and Jajtner both noted that the Plymouth Sectional had several of the team favorites for this year’s state title.
Whitefish Bay won the sectional crown with 326 points, followed closely in the next three spots by Shorewood (317), Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol (312) and Plymouth (268).
Grafton was fifth in the 14-team field with 230 points, and Port was seventh with 156 points.
“Having that kind of sectional competition is only good because it pushes us to be better,” Burgos said.
Grafton and Port both had several other strong sectional swims that missed qualifying for state. They included Wilkey’s seventh-place finish in the 100 freestyle (55.82) and a sixth place by the Pirates’ 200 team of Tori Klotz, Alex Anderson, Sarah Wiskow and Jajtner
The Hawks’ alternates for their state-qualifying relays are Lisa Borden and Emily Fischer.
Friday’s Division 2 state meet begins with diving at 2:30 p.m., followed by swimming at 6:30 p.m.
SENIOR ERIN JAJTNER will represent the Port Washington girls’ swimming and diving team in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events at Friday’s WIAA Division 2 state meet. Press file photo