Middleton swimmers shine at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Isabell Frommelt and Middleton's girls swimming and diving team finished fourth at the WIAA Division 1 state meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

WAUKESHA — Sophie Benson spent four memorable seasons inside Middleton’s girls swimming and diving program.

There were three top-six team finishes at the WIAA Division 1 state meet during traditional seasons. There was a runner-up showing in the very non-traditional 2020-21 COVID year, when the Cardinals moved their season to the spring.

And there were countless laughs, smiles and memories.

So when it came to an end last Saturday — with the Cardinals racing to a fourth place finish at this year’s state meet held inside Waukesha South High School — it was a bittersweet time for Benson and her fellow seniors.

Middleton had given another memorable performance, challenging the state powerhouses for pool supremacy once again. But the finality of it all was also tough for Benson to wrap her head around.

“I can’t say enough about this team and the impact it’s had on me as an athlete, and person,” Benson said afterwards. “I got the privilege of being a captain on the team this year, and especially towards the end of the season I saw us rally together and swim for other common goal of each other and our team.

“Through my four years I’ve experienced some amazing leadership and learned some lessons that I’ll always take with me, all while doing something I love with people I love. Four years doesn’t seem like enough in a program so special, and I will cherish all of the memories I’ve made over my time on the team forever.”

Before Benson and the 2022 Cardinals put a wrap on this season, they made several memories.

Arrowhead won the state title with 338.5 points, while three-time defending state champ Brookfield East was second with 285.5. Waukesha West/Catholic Memorial (196), Middleton (182.5) and Verona (144) rounded out the top five.

The Cardinals entered the state tournament seeded fourth, which is exactly where they finished.

In the last 10 years, Middleton now has three state titles, two runner-up finishes and eight top-5 showings.

“The team and I felt great about our fourth place finish overall,” Middleton senior Natalie Charles said. “The biggest goals that we had going into the meet were to move up in our seeded places, and to have fun.

“We had already done the work to get to the meet, so it was a good chance to have fun and soak up the moment. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I wouldn't have wanted to go through it with any other group of girls and coaches.”

Middleton coach R.J. Leiferman agreed.

“Overall we were really happy with how the meet went,” Leiferman said. “We came really close to getting third, but we are still very pleased with the fourth place finish.

“Everyone that swam went at least one best time last week or this week, and most of them did it at both meets, which was really exciting. We feel really good about how the season went, and are really proud of every girl on the team for all they accomplished this season.”

There was a lot to be proud of.

Middleton got a lift right out of the chute with terrific showings from a pair of divers.

Sophomore Avery Potrzebowski was seventh, while fellow sophomore Olivia Davis was 14th.

“Diving went very well to start,” Leiferman said.

Middleton’s relay teams were also terrific in their three events.

The Cardinals’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of freshman Sulia Miller, senior Abby Ensenberger, junior Kaitlin Haag and junior Piper Garcia-Hall finished fourth.

Middleton’s 200-yard medley relay team of junior Lily Mair, Charles, sophomore Isabell Frommelt and junior Piper Garcia-Hall placed fifth.

“I am extremely proud of each and every girl who swam,” Frommelt said. “We had so many incredible swims and are so proud of all that we have accomplished over the season.”

And the Cardinals’ 400-yard freestyle relay team of Mair, Benson, Haag and Charles was also fifth.

“The 400 freestyle relay was probably my favorite event of the whole meet,” Charles said. “It was the first year that I got to swim on it, and … it was so much fun to end my final high school state meet with the last event overall. It was amazing to get to do it with that group of girls and get to see all of our hard work pay off.”

Leiferman was also thrilled how his relay teams performed.

“All three of our relays did great, and got even faster from the week before, which is exactly what we were hoping for,” Leiferman said. “Sulia Miller did an amazing job leading off our 200 free relay with a new best time for her first ever swim at the state meet.

“Sophie Benson and Natalie Charles all went the fastest splits of their lives on the 400 free relay, so it was great to see them finish their high school swim careers with that.”

Middleton had several stellar individual performances, as well. They included:

• Haag was fifth in the 500-yard freestyle, while sophomore Hannah Machleidt was eighth and Benson was 12th.

“The 500 free went very well,” Leiferman said. “All of our girls scored points. Tait had our highest individual place of the meet … and Hannah had an amazing 500, as well, dropping three seconds to finish in eighth place.”

• Haag was eighth in the 200-yard freestyle, while Benson was 11th, sophomore Audrey Alexander was 12th and Ensenberger was 14th.

• Charles was ninth in the 200-yard IM and 11th in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“I felt really good about all of my events,” Charles said.

• Mair was 11th in the 100-yard butterfly, while Frommelt was 20th.

“Isabell Frommelt had the best meet I have ever seen from her,” Leiferman said. “She went her fastest split ever on the medley relay, and then dropped another half second in the 100 fly.”

• Garcia-Hall was 14th in the 100-yard freestyle and 15th in the 50-yard freestyle.

• Mair was also 16th in the 100-yard backstroke.

“Lily Mair also had a really good meet, scoring points in the fly and backstroke for us, and dropping almost a full second in the backstroke from where she was last week,” Leiferman said. “She also did a great job leading off both our 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.”

• And Ensenberger was 21st in the 100-yard freestyle.

In all, Middleton produced several sensational swims on its way to a fourth place showing.

“We went into state seeded fourth and we were happy to maintain that position especially will all the great competition,” Frommelt said.

Benson agreed with her younger teammate.

“As a team I think we were very proud of what we accomplished,” Benson said. “Of course we wanted that third place (team) finish and we fought for it, but at the end of the day all of us left it in the pool, and that’s all we could do.

“We were all so proud of each other and soaking up every moment of the meet while it lasted. It’s really special to have teammates that always are there to support you, and that’s something we did incredibly well at state.”

Afterwards, Benson reflected on her memorable career — and the remarkably bright future of the Middleton program.

“All these girls and coaches have such a special place in my heart, which makes saying goodbye so hard,” Benson said. “But, even though it’s sad, I’ll take the impact my amazing coaches have had on me and bring it with me wherever I go. They have helped me though so much, and I wouldn’t trade my relationship with them for the world.

“Overall, remembering this team will be so easy, and almost impossible to forget. There’s lots of good things coming for the girls, and I can’t wait to now watch from a distance.”


Nov. 12

WIAA Division 1 girls state swimming and diving meet

At Waukesha South

Team scires: 1, Arrowhead, 338.5; 2, Brookfield East, 285.5; 3, Waukesha West/Catholic Memorial, 196; 4, Middleton, 182.5; 5, Verona, 144; 6, Germantown, 131; 7, Brookfield Central, 115.5; 8, Badger Co-op, 98; 9, Appleton North, 94; 10, Muskego, 88; 11, Waukesha South/Mukwonago, 84; 12, Madison West, 73.5; 13, Oregon, 67; 14, Monona Grove, 53; 15, Madison Memorial, 46; 16, Stevens Point, 38.5; 17, River Falls, 35; 18, Burlington Co-op, 31; 19, Eau Claire Memorial, 27; 20, Waunakee, 26; 21, Chippewa Falls/McDonell, 20; 22, Pewaukee/Oconomowoc, 17; 23, Sun Prairie West, 14; 23, Pulaski, 14; 23, Homestead, 14; 23, Janesville Craig, 14; 27, Green Bay Southwest Co-op, 13; 28, Neenah, 11; 29, Kenosha Tremper, 9; 30, DeForest, 8; 31, Divine Savior Holy Angels, 7; 31, West Allis Central/Hale, 7; 33, West Bend West/East, 6; 34, Appleton West/Kimberly, 5; 34, De Pere/West De Pere, 5; 36, Oshkosh West, 4; 37, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton, 3.


Middleton results:

Diving: 7, Avery Potrzebowski, 409.55; 14, Olivia Davis, 381.60.

200-yard medley relay: 5, Lily Mair, Natalie Charles, Isabell Frommelt, Piper Garcia-Hall, 1:46.67.

200-yard freestyle: 8, Kaitlin Haag, 1:53.33; 11, Sophie Benson, 1:54.72; 12, Audrey Alexander, 1:55.71; 14, Abby Ensenberger, 1:56.38.

200-yard IM: 9, Natalie Charles, 2:07.86.

50-yard freestyle: 15, Piper Garcia-Hall, 24:30.

100-yard butterfly: 11, Lily Mair, 58.07; 20, Isabell Frommelt, 58.90.

100-yard freestyle: 14, Piper Garcia-Hall, 53.17; 21, Abby Ensenberger, 53.77.

500-yard freestyle: 5, Kaitlin Haag, 5:02.06; 8, Hannah Machleidt, 5:12.25; 12, Sophie Benson, 5:14.96.

200-yard freestyle relay: 4, Sulia Miller, Abby Ensenberger, Kaitlin Haag, Piper Garcia-Hall, 1:36.39.

100-yard backstroke: 16, Lily Mair, 59.11.

100-yard breaststroke: 11, Natalie Charles, 1:05.78.

400-yard freestyle relay: 5, Lily Mair, Sophie Benson, Kaitlin Haag, Natalie Charles, 3:33.61.


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