Middleton swimmers win sectional title

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton freshman Amanda George qualified for state in the 500-yard freestyle./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

There was joy, euphoria, happiness and delight.

Then came confusion, bewilderment and frustration.

Middleton’s girls’ swimming and diving team — the two-time WIAA Division 1 state champion — won its own sectional last Saturday.

The Cardinals won the meet with 317 points, while Sun Prairie was a close second at 312. Madison West (291), Verona-Mount Horeb (289) and Madison Memorial (250) rounded out the top five.

It should have never been that close, though.

Middleton’s 400 freestyle relay team — one that would have contended for a state title — was disqualified for false starting and is now ineligible to compete at the state meet.

“It was incredibly tough to end the meet with a disqualification to our 400 free relay,” Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said. “This is one of the top relay teams in the state and certainly would have contended for a state title. 

“Unfortunately, we false started and are unable to advance that relay on to state this weekend. It was a devastating way to end such a great meet and I know those girls would give anything to get one more chance.”

Middleton will still take a large contingent to the state meet, which will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at the UW Natatorium. The Cardinals’ challenge of three-peating just got a whole lot harder, though.

With its full complement of swimmers, Middleton would have been the consensus state favorite. Now, with the Cardinals one relay short, Cedarburg is a two-point favorite over Middleton when you calculate where teams are seeded.

“You never want this to happen at such a high-stakes meet, but we cannot change it,” Cabalka said. “All we can do is refocus, move forward and fight with everything we've got. 

“Those 30-plus points at the state meet are a big deal and will definitely put us in an underdog role. But I’ve known and coached these girls for a long time and know that there is not much that can get in their way.”

Not much got in the way of several Cardinals at sectionals. And Middleton hopes to carry that momentum to state.

Middleton’s 200-yard medley relay team of junior Gabriela Pierobon Mays, junior Alex Anagnostopoulos, sophomore Ally Silverstri and junior Berkley Smith was second at sectionals and is seeded fifth at state.

The quartet of Smith, senior Cora Mack, senior Hannah Aegerter and senior Makenna Licking was second in the 200-yard freestyle and is seeded second at state.

Aegerter won the 200-yard freestyle, while Licking was fifth and sophomore Bella Chirafisi was ninth. Aegerter is now the No. 1 seed at state, while Licking is seeded 14th.

Aegerter also won the 500-yard freestyle, while Licking was second, freshman Amanda George was fifth and senior Emily Keebler was 11th. Aegerter is seeded second at state, Licking is third and George is 14th.

Silvestri was second in the 200 IM, while senior Emily Keebler was sixth, Anagnostopoulos was eighth and sophomore Madelyn Lawn was 10th. Silvestri is now seeded fifth at state, Keebler is 12th, Anagnostopoulos is 18th and Lawn is 21st.

Silvestri was second in the 100-yard breaststroke and Anagnostopoulos was third. Silvestri is seeded second, while Anagnostopoulos is seeded seventh.

Pierobon Mays was third in the 100-yard butterfly and is seeded 10th at state. Pierobon Mays was also third in the 100-yard backstroke and is seeded ninth at state in that event.

Smith was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and is seeded 12th.

Mack was fifth in the 100-yard freestyle and Chirafisi was 10th. Mack is now seeded 19th at state.

“We went into this meet with the goal of getting all 21 races through to the state meet and leaving no one behind,” Cabalka said. “We've never done that before and we knew we’d have to tap into a new gear and swim flawlessly if we wanted that to become a reality. 

“The girls started off incredibly strong and held tough throughout the entire meet. We had some absolutely amazing swims and the energy was incredibly high. We definitely took some risks by not fully resting our girls and, in some cases, completely changing events. The girls knew they would have to dig as deep as they possibly could, against a field of swimmers — many of whom were fully rested — in order to advance to the state meet. 

“In most cases, we were able to push through and get there, but we didn't get everyone through. It's a part of the game you have to play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and as a coach, it just really sits with you for a while. All in all, we swam incredibly well and you can't ask for much more than that.”

Middleton will certainly be a motivated bunch now.

Not only are the Cardinals trying to win a third straight title, they’ll do it shorthanded. And after the way sectionals ended, they’ll do so with added motivation.

“Through the looks of defeat and the tears, there were looks of sheer determination and fire,” Cabalka said. “We have a lot of room to move up and plus points. 

“The girls will complete their taper cycle this week and enter the state meet fully rested — and I know we will see some magic happen. The road is never easy, but where's the fun in that? 

“These girls will pull together. They will fight. And like most young women their age, they love nothing more than proving someone wrong.”

 

Middleton Sectional

Team scores: Middleton 317, Sun Prairie 312, Madison West 291, Verona 289, Madison Memorial 250, Waunakee 175, DeForest 124, Milton 89, Madison La Follette 82, Janesville Craig 62, Beloit Memorial 51, Oregon 40, Madison East 34, Janesville Parker/Evansville 32.

INDIVIDUAL AND RELAY RESULTS

(Top finisher automatically qualifies for state)

Diving—1. Leah Mickelson (West) 358.1.

200 medley relay—Verona 1:45.28.

200 freestyle—1. Hannah Aegerter (Middleton) 1:52.02.

200 individual medley—1. Grace Bennin (V-MH) 2:04.08.

50 freestyle—1. Sophie Fiske (Sun Prairie) 23.79.

100 butterfly—1. Katrina Marty (West) 55.36.

100 freestyle—1. Fiske (Sun Prairie) 52.04.

500 freestyle—1. Aegerter (Middleton) 5:00.76.

200 freestyle relay—1. Sun Prairie 1:36.79.

100 backstroke—1. Marty (West) 56.29.

100 breaststroke—1. Bennin (V-MH) 1:03.14.

400 freestyle relay—1. Sun Prairie 3:28.5.

 

 

 

 

 

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