Freshmen strong in Parker-Craig swim meet

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Tom Miller
Friday, August 29, 2014

JANESVILLE—It's not often that the high school girls swimming season starts with the Janesville Craig-Janesville Parker meet.

It's even more rare when a pair of freshmen command the spotlight.

That was the case Friday at Janesville Parker High when the Cougars defeated the Vikings 106-64.

Craig freshman Erin Donagan won the 200 freestyle (2:00.22) and 100 backstroke (1:01.20) and was a member of the Cougars' winning 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Her time in the 100 backstroke broke the last remaining Craig school record that was set in the 1990s. Beth Jerome had held the record since 1992 with a time of 1:02.49.

A pair of individual double winners led Parker, including freshman Maddie Nelson, who won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.

Donagan's record-setting performance in the team victory stood out.

Craig coach Brian Kitzman says that likely won't be the last record Donagan will set.

“She just loves swimming,” Kitzman said. “She's been in a lot of big meets, so she doesn't have those jitters. We can use her in many events, and she doesn't mind where we put her.”

Kitzman plans to use Donagan in several events and will determine which ones for her to focus on when tournament time rolls around.

“She's good in the IM (individual medley) and in the backstroke, as well,” Donagan said.

The Cougars won their fifth straight dual against Parker with the help of several other key swimmers.

Captains Sierra Rhodes and Maggie Gorman contributed points. Gorman won the 500 freestyle (5:57.82) and was third in the 50 freestyle. She also was on both the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Rhodes contributed second-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly and was on the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams.

The Cougars were without junior Kendall Cawkins, who set a school record in the 50 freestyle in last season's Craig-Parker dual. Cawkins was gone on vacation.

“She worked really hard during the summer,” Kitzman said.

Senior Becca Zabel provided the other Craig individual victory with a win in the 200 individual medley (2:35.25).

Kitzman said senior Tristi March (second in 50 and 100 freestyles) would also be a key component to the team.

Kitzman said last year's strong showing against Madison Memorial in a dual meet gave the team a boost in confidence that has carried over to this season.

“I think the girls will approach those meets—West, Memorial, Middleton—differently,” Kitzman said. “If we don't get them this year, it's coming. We have the core and we have the depth.”

Meanwhile, Parker coach Meghan Bartel was just as encouraged by her squad's effort, which was highlighted by Nelson and Jana Burner.

Nelson's winning times were 1:04.04 in the 100 butterfly and 1:13.19 in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.19).

Burner won the 50 freestyle (26.77) and 100 freestyle (59.13).

Burner and Nelson then joined Katie Uhl and Allison August to win the 200 freestyle relay.

Bartel foresees a bright future for Nelson.

“She works very, very hard,” Bartel said. “Both of her winning times were top-10 (in school history).”

Her breaststroke-winning time was the fourth fastest in school history.

Both of Burner's winning times cracked the school's top-10 list.

Three seniors—Emma Fischer, Harmony Shepherd and Marah Ruby—are captains.

Bartel is encouraged by the overall improvement of her team and the girls' attitudes.

With the amount of young talent on both sides of town, it's easy to smile.


200 medley relay—1. Craig (Erin Donagan, Maggie Gorman, Elizabeth Petruzzello, Sierra Rhodes), 1:58.13; 2. Parker, 2:00.47.

200 freestyle—1. Erin Donagan (JC), 2:00.22; 2. Lauren Reilly (JC), 2:12.50; 3. Maddie Hoeser (JC), 2:21.47.

200 individual medley—1. Becca Zabel (JC), 2:35.25; 2. Elizabeth Petruzzello (JC), 2:39.38; 3. Allison August (JP), 2:41.67.

50 freestyle—1. Jana Burner (JP), 26.77; 2. Tristi March (JC), 26.81; 3. Maggie Gorman (JC), 26.95.

100 butterfly—1. Maddie Nelson (JP), 1:04.04; 2. Sierra Rhodes (JC), 1:09.09; 3. Becca Zabel (JC), 1:11.36.

100 freestyle—1. Jana Burner (JP), 59.13; 2. Tristi March (JC), 59.41; 3. Emma Fischer (JP), 1:04.47.

500 freestyle—1. Maggie Gorman (JC), 5:57.82; 2. Maddie Hoeser (JC), 6:15.82; 3. Maddie Meglic (JP), 6:39.88.

200 freestyle relay—1. Parker (Maddie Nelson, Jana Burner, Katie Uhl, Allison August), 1:50.53; 2. Craig, 1:52.56.

100 backstroke—1. Erin Donagan (JC), 1:01.20; 2. Sierra Rhodes (JC), 1:07.28; 3. Emma Fischer (JP), 1:12.23.

100 breaststroke—1. Maddie Nelson (JP), 1:13.19; 2. Elizabeth Petruzzello (JC), 1:16.36; 3. Cierra Boutelle (JC), 1:22.45.

400 freestyle relay—1. Craig (Lauren Reilly, Sierra Rhodes, Maggie Gorman, Erin Donagan), 3:57.90; 2. Craig, 4:17.68.

Junior varsity—Craig 76, Parker 45.

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