Fast start, medley-relay title propel girls’ team to 3rd place in Division 2 state swimming, diving meet
A fast start wasn’t enough for the Grafton girls’ swimming and diving team to grab top honors in the WIAA state meet in Madison last weekend, but did help the Black Hawks reaffirm their place among the Division 2 elite.
After racing to an early lead, Grafton saw the advantage fade but still emerged with third-place honors in a 38-team field at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
Sparked by a record-setting victory in the 200-yard medley relay, the Hawks scored 193 points, well ahead of fourth-place Fort Atkinson’s 133.5.
Shorewood won its sixth state team title and its first since 2003 with 255 points, and Milton was second with 217.
Among other local teams, Port Washington had 18 points, good for a share of 30th place with Catholic Memorial.
“Shorewood was the class of the state in Division 2 this year. I always thought first place would come down to them and Milton,” Grafton coach John Douglass said.
“But I was very pleased with our performance. Heading into the meet, we had us scoring 190 to 230 points, so we were right there.”
The Hawks’ best event finish came in the meet’s first race. The medley team of junior Stephanie Haebig, sophomores Sam Senczyszyn and Rachel Hauer and freshman Natalie Keshemberg combined for a winning time of 1 minute, 48.47 seconds that broke the team record.
The victory, which was good for 40 points, followed a strong Grafton showing in diving. Sophomore Gabby Kraus finished third with 373.85 points, and junior Paige Schommer was sixth (350.25).
Schommer placed 11th at the meet last year, and Kraus was making her first state appearance.
The Hawks continued their steady scoring by collecting points in eight more events.
Senczyszyn entered the meet with the fastest qualifying times in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke but had to settle for near-miss runner-up finishes in both races.
In the 50 freestyle, Senczyszyn posted a time of 23.9, just behind champion Savanna Townsend of Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol’s 23.74.
In the breaststroke, Senczyszyn’s 1:03.05 clocking broke the state mark by one-100th of a second, but Shorewood’s Rachel Munson captured the record and the title with a remarkable 1:01.37. Senczyszyn was also second in the event at state last year.
“Sam really wanted to break the breaststroke record, and she did, but what Rachel Munson did was pretty special,” Douglass said.
“She dropped five seconds (from her qualifying time) in a 100-yard race, which is absolutely fantastic.
“Sam dropped 2.5 seconds in the last 2-1/2 weeks, which was also great.”
Grafton’s next-best finish came from the 400 freestyle relay of Keshemberg, Senczyszyn, Hauer and Haebig, whose 3:39.86 effort was good for a fourth-place tie with Whitefish Bay.
Also scoring for the Hawks were a sixth by Keshemberg in the 100 backstroke (59.75), sevenths by Haebig in the backstroke (1:00.02) and Keshemberg in the 100 butterfly (59.54), eighth by Hauer in the breaststroke (1:08.21), 10th by Hauer in the 200 individual medley (2:13.98), 15ths by Haebig in the 200 freestyle (2:02.86) and freshman Katherine Bordetsakaya in the individual medley (2:18.89) and 16th by the 200 freestyle relay of senior Katelyn Brooks, Bordetskaya, senior Anna Hauer and Rachel Hauer (1:45.22).
“Everyone swam pretty well for us. It was a very cool way to end the season,” said Douglass, who noted that the Hawks rode a wave of young talent that carried them throughout the year.
“Our only senior was in the 200 freestyle relay, so we will have virtually everyone back next season. This is a very motivated group that will only get better.”
Port got all its scoring from divers, the Pirates’ lone state qualifiers. Senior Hayley Seitz placed ninth with 342.9 points, junior Kristen Smith was 10th (315.6) and freshman Becca Murray was 15th (260.7).
Port coach Melissa Hoogester was pleased with the divers, who were the Pirates’ leading scorers all season. Seitz and Smith were both making return trips to state.
“I think they were comfortable and confident going into the meet. They did well,” Hoogester said.
Seitz and Smith both bettered their performances from last year’s state meet, when they placed 14th and 15th, respectively.
The Grafton and Port divers were coached by Dennis Hubert, who also coaches diving at Cedarburg.
Image Information: STATE QUALIFIERS for the Grafton girls’ swimming and diving team were (front row, from left) Paige Schommer, Katherine Bordetskaya, Sam Senczyszyn, Rachel Hauer, Gabby Kraus, Stephanie Haebig, Natalie Keshemberg, (back row) Anna Hauer, Kaitlyn Brooks and Ally Sandoval. Photo by Sam Arendt