Schneider looks for a breakout season for Craig swim
Brian Kitzman leaves little doubt about his feelings for Janesville Craig junior swimming standout Hailey Schneider.
“She’s the best swimmer, boys or girls, ever in the city,” said Kitzman, the Cougars’ first-year coach, who replaces Jeremy Meserole. “She’s better than her brother Dustin (a four-year state qualifier) was. She’ll have a chance to make some All-American times this year.”
Schneider made her mark at state last year, finishing fourth in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 100 breaststroke.
“She’s swimming right around her state meet times already,” said Kitzman, a 2003 Craig grad and assistant boys coach for four seasons. “She is probably the hardest worker I’ve seen on any team. We’re looking for her to have a great junior year.”
The reigning state champions return in both of the events in which Schneider placed last year. In the 100 breaststroke, Schneider is looking to lower her time from the 1:06 range to 1:04. In the medley, she hopes to drop from 2:09 to 2:06. Those times probably would be good for at least a top-three finish at state.
“Hailey is certainly a leader in and out of the pool,” Kitzman said. “The girls see her work ethic, and they understand what it takes to be great.”
The Cougars return five other letter winners to a team that hopes to improve on its 3-5 record in the rugged Big Eight.
The returnees include:
-- Sara Goodsir, a senior who will swim the 100 butterfly and sprint freestyle events.
-- Jenna Gorman, a senior set for the 200 and 500 freestyle.
-- Betsy Collins, a junior all-arounder in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 50 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
-- Chloe Gansen, a sophomore all-arounder and backstroke specialist.
-- Emily Legried, a sophomore in the 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle.
Hailey Schneider’s freshman sister, Kali, also is one of the Cougars’ top seven or eight swimmers. She’ll compete in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle.
“She’s very good, but not at the level as her sister was as a freshman,” Kitzman said.
The Cougars’ primary goal for 2008 is, according to Kitzman, to be the best of the rest in the Big Eight.
The league produced the first-, second-, third- and seventh-place teams in the 2007 state meet as East, Memorial, Middleton and West dominated the pool.
“We will be competitive,” Kitzman said. “But the girls teams might be even deeper than the boys in the Eight. Those top four are pretty much untouchable.”
Another goal for the Cougars is to add to its list of state qualifiers.
“Besides Hailey, we think Kali Schneider, Gansen and Collins can be possible state qualifiers.”
The Cougars were scheduled to open the season Friday night at home against Sun Prairie. But construction at the school has caused the meet to be postponed. Craig’s first action will now come in Saturday’s Parker Relays.
“We just want our girls to swim their best times at the end of the season,” Kitzman said.
AUGUST: 30—Janesville Parker Relays, 11 a.m.
SEPTEMBER: 5—Beloit Memorial, 5 p.m.; 12—At Madison La Follette, 5 p.m.; 19—Madison Memorial, 5 p.m.; 26—At Middleton, 5 p.m.; 27—At Fort Atkinson, 10 a.m.
OCTOBER: 3—Janesville Parker, 5 p.m.; 10—At Madison East, 5 p.m.; 17—Madison West, 5 p.m.; 18—Cougar Relays, 10 a.m.; 22—At Verona, 5 p.m.
NOVEMBER: 1—Big Eight meet, at Middleton. 8—WIAA Division 1 sectional, at Middleton; Nov. 15—WIAA state meet, UW-Natatorium, Madison.