Area high school girls swimmers could not help but wonder if Monday night’s alternate fall WIAA state meet would feel like a true state competition.
It did, and several of them saved their best for last in a big-time meet in front of fans at the Waukesha South Natatorium.
Milton sophomore Bailey Ratzburg posted a second- and a third-place finish, Janesville Craig shattered a school relay record by finishing fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay and Edgerton’s Ella Gorski joined in the fun with a state medal of her own.
“I think having people there, it really did feel special,” Ratzburg said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be the exact same, but the vibe and the energy was still the same.
“It felt pretty good. It was very exciting. I just focused from last week going into this week, and everything just fell in line.”
Ratzburg began her night by finishing second int he 200-yard individual medley. She took off nearly 2.5 seconds from her seed time in finishing in 2:02.17, finishing only behind Green Bay Southwest co-op’s Brigitta Neverman (2:01.86).
“I could feel it and really pushed everything I had into the last 50,” Ratzburg said. “I could see the girl out of the side of my goggles.”
Ratzburg later finished third in the 100 breaststroke, finishing in 1:04.21. Bay Port’s Sydney Aird won in 1:03.48. Ratzburg also anchored Milton’s 200 and 400 freestyle relays that took 12th and 10th, respectively.
“I think (the uncertainty of this year due to the pandemic) made me appreciate it more,” Ratzburg said.
Janesville Craig ended the season with a bang.
The Cougars’ 400 freestyle relay team was part of the first heat (slower seed times) coming in, but it leapt up to finish on the podium in fifth place.
Dakota Reece, Sydney Guenther, Kadence Woods and Ally Donagan each swam season-best splits to finish in 3:36.71. They broke the school record by nearly five seconds.
“I knew they had it in them,” Craig head coach Jen Punzel said. “We just talked about the math and said it (the school record) is totally doable. It wasn’t even accounting for anyone doing anything amazing, but we just wanted to get the record.
“On the ride in, we talked about fighting for every inch, that there are inches all around you and you just have to know where to grab them. ... They just brought it. Everybody had a best split for the season, so they truly put together a perfect race.”
Donagan had said going in that she hoped to swim her best times of the season on the biggest stage, and she and the Cougars did.
Donagan was ninth in the 200 free (1:57.62) and 12th in the 500 free (5:17.53). Reece took 15th in the 100 free (54.30).
“Every swimmer, every split, every event had a best time tonight; it was amazing,” Punzel said.
Gorski, a sophomore, finished off her season for Edgerton with a fifth-place finish in the 100 backstroke (57.96). She also finished 13th in the 50 free, and teammate Jenna Schmitt was 14th in the 100 breaststroke.
WIAA alternate fall state girls swim meet
At Waukesha South Natatorium
Edgewood 350, Middleton 286, Sun Prairie 233, Appleton North 159, Oshkosh West 125, 12. Milton 57, 17. Janesville Craig 43, 23. Edgerton 21.
INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS AND AREA FINISHERS
200 medley relay—Sun Prairie 1:44.31. 200 freestyle—Izzy Enz (Edgewood) 1:50.19, T9. Ally Donagan (Craig) 1:57.62. 200 IM—Brigitta Neverman (GB Southwest) 2:01.86, 2. Bailey Ratzburg (Milton) 2:02.17. 50 freestyle—Abby Reid (Edgewood) 23.41, 13. Ella Gorski (Edgerton) 25.07. 100 butterfly—Neverman 54.87. 100 freestyle—Reid 50.34, 15. Dakota Reece (Craig) 54.30. 500 freestyle—Enz 4:56.19, 12. Donagan 5:17.53. 200 free relay—Edgewood 1:34.57, 12. Milton (Ellie Parker, Alyssa Fons, Azia Koser, Ratzburg), 1:41.13. 100 backstroke—Anna teDuits (Edgewood) 55.02, 5. Ella Gorski (Edgerton) 57.96. 100 breaststroke—Sydney Aird (Bay Port), 1:03.48, 3. Ratzburg 1:04.21, 14. Jenna Schmitt (Edgerton) 1:08.17. 400 free relay—Edgewood 3:26.81, 5. Craig (Reece, Sydney Guenther, Kadence Woods, Donagan), 3:36.71, 10. Milton (Parker, Koser, Jade Fladhammer, Ratzburg), 3:39.45.