Ella Houwers spent the last year developing her skills in the butterfly and backstroke so she could be one of the most well-rounded swimmers in the state. And yet she was persistent in remaining elite in the breaststroke.

On Friday night, all of that added up to the first state championship in Whitewater’s girls program’s history, and Houwers added three other state medals earlier in the night.

The Thunderbirds finished with 376 points, with Bartlett (Ill.) finishing second with 346. Janesville Craig was third with 322 and host Parker/Evansville co-op team was ninth with 242.

Two freshmen topped the list of finishers as Janesville Parker/Evansville began its Big Eight Conference girls swimming season against visiting Verona/Mount Horeb on Friday night. Janesville Craig came up just short in its Big Eight Conference meet at Beloit on Friday night.

Maddie Nelson won two individual events and anchored the winning 400 freestyle relay team to help Janesville Parker/Evansville down Madison East 94-76 in a Big Eight Conference girls swimming meet Thursday.