One of four Division 2 WIAA girls swimming sectionals was held this past Saturday Nov., 7 at the University of Stevens Point Natatorium.
The following schools were represented at the Stevens Point Sectional: Ashwaubenon, Berlin/Green Lake, Clintonville, Colby-Abbotsford, Ladysmith/Bruce/Flambeau, Lakeland, Marinette, Medford Area, New London, Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Seymour, Tomahawk, Wittenberg-Birnamwood and River Falls.
Each team is allowed twenty-one (21) total swims including relays and diving events giving each team an equal amount of entries despite team size. The following athletes represented New London High School at this year’s sectional meet Freshman-Haley Bianco, Mickey and Lexi Roland, Davi Ruckdashel, Sophomores Courtney Almy, Brianne VanDreel and Lacey Schmitz and Seniors-Courtney Butler, Cora Fietzer, Taylor Crain and Taylor Kindschy.
The 2010 Bulldog swim team have been competitive all year long while being a team comprised of mostly freshman and sophomores going 6-2 in dual meet competition and finishing 4th in the Bay Conference Championship meet two weeks ago. For many seniors the sectional swim competition brings to an end their competitive swimming career unless they qualify for the WIAA State Championships or go on to swim in college. This year’s senior swimmers are Brooke Binder, Courtney Butler, Taylor Crain, Cora Fietzer, Taylor Kindschy, Brittany Marquardt and Chatrina Elstermann van Elster.
For two of these seniors this year’s sectional provided an opportunity for them to qualify and compete at the WIAA Championships for a fourth consecutive year.
Taylor Crain and Taylor Kindschy came into this year’s sectional meet with that goal in mind. A week prior Taylor Crain garnered an unprecedented 4th consecutive conference championship in the 100 yard Breaststroke. She has also held the conference record in that same event since her freshman year. Taylor Kindschy has been the freestyle and butterfly specialist for most of her high school career. This year she has also stepped into fill the backstroke leg in the 200 Medley Relay, a role she also filled on the 2007 Medley State Championship team.
Saturdays Sectional meet started out with a barn burner of a race in the 200 Medley Relay event. The Bulldogs came in fresh off the conference meet where they narrowly out touched the team from Marinette for second place in this race. The sectional race had the Bulldogs seeded third behind Marinette and Berlin/Green Lake. Taylor Kindschy led the foursome off by swimming a season best split (30.49) in the backstroke leg, despite TK’s effort there was ground to be made up by Taylor Crain and even it up she did with a scorching 30.31 leg in the breast stroke. From there the seniors turned it over to a couple of up and coming underclassman. Freshman Haley Bianco turned in a season best performance swimming the butterfly leg in 28.44 seconds to tighten the race up. At this point it was going to be up to Sophomore Courtney Almy to hunt down the leaders and the young freestyler did just that unfortunately this time we came up a bit short. In the Conference Championships the week before the sophomore swam a gutsy anchor leg to earn the team a second place finish over the Marinette team. The Bulldogs swam a season best time for the second week in a row finishing in 1:55.53. This time however the girls from Marinette just nipped the New London team with a time of 1:55.44 for 1st place. With that said the time of 1:55.53 by the Bulldogs did qualify them for the WIAA State Championships.
The next few individual events featured the New London team swimming to a number of season’s best times but ultimately not fast enough to earn a trip to Madison. Top eight places came in the 200 Freestyle with Haley Bianco placing 5th with a time of 2:06.66, Taylor Kindschy 50 Freestyle (25.88) and 100 Butterfly (1:04.13) finishing 7th and 6th respectively. In the 100 Freestyle Taylor Crain (56.63) and Haley Bianco (57.97) finished 4th, 7th
Senior leadership certainly played a huge role for the Bulldogs victory in the 200 Freestyle Relay event, the Bulldogs came into the event seeded 5th. Prior to the meet starting Stacy Ruckdashel met with seniors Taylor Kindschy and Taylor Crain to discuss a strategic opportunity that had presented itself after reviewing the team seeding in the 400 Freestyle Relay event. After a lengthy discussion on whether to move into the 400 Freestyle event the decision was made to stay put in the 200 Freestyle Relay. The New London HS swim team has owned the 200 Freestyle relay at this sectional for the better part for the last ten years. With that legacy behind them and the quiet confidence these senior girls have in themselves and teammates Haley Bianco and Courtney Almy they decided to stay put. The race as one might expect was very close. But unlike the 200 medley relay race the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and built on that thru the middle of the rotation finishing strong by holding off a late challenge by the Marinette squad. In the process the combination of Taylor Kindschy, Courtney Almy, Haley Bianco and Taylor Crain turned in a season best time of 1:43.48 and the first Sectional Championship performance on of the day.
With three events to go the Bulldogs had the best opportunity to qualify a swimmer in an individual event coming up in the 100 Breaststroke. Prior to this race however is the 100 Backstroke where Brianna VanDreel turned in a season best performance (1:10.45) and finished in the top eight with a 7th place finish. After Brianna’s effort in the Backstroke senior Taylor Crain then stepped up to the blocks as the number 1 seed in the 100 Breaststroke looking to finish the day with an individual Sectional Championship. In her finest performance of the season Taylor swam to a convincing win with a 1:08.02 time to qualify with the 4th fastest time in D2 and a 4th place seed next Friday.
As a team the New London High School Swim team finished in 6th place and in the upper half of the 14 team event. The WIAA Girls State Swim Championships will be held on Friday November 12 at the UW Natatorium. This will be the 13th consecutive year that the New London High Swim team has sent an individual or relay team to compete at the WIAA State Championships. New London will be competing in two relays and one individual event and looking to bring home some hardware.