Girls Swimming: League Rivals Battle

Big Eight Conference rivals Madison East and Madison Memorial should contend for the Division 1 state swimming championship again this season.

Madison Memorial claimed its 22nd Big Eight girls swimming dual meet title in 2007 and followed with its 23rd conference crown.

However, the Spartans were forced to settle for second place during the WIAA Division 1 state competitions at the University of Madison Natatorium.

League rival Madison East registered two relay victories and three individual golds to edge Memorial, 233-229.5, while ending Hartland Arrowhead's five-year stranglehold on the top spot. Middleton made it a Big Eight Conference sweep, taking third place with 203.5 points.

Memorial is looking for its 15th state title but first since a three-year streak ended in 2001, the last two under current coach Jason Verhelst.

In Division 2, DeForest outdistanced perennial power Whitefish Bay, 196-165, while the Norskies' Badger Conference rival Monona Grove grabbed third with 157 points. It was DeForest's second consecutive crown after Grafton had won in 2004 and '05.

They and the rest of the competition started down that trail again as swimmers hit the pools as another season began this week for teams across Wisconsin.

These teams and several other traditional powerhouses will be strong title contenders again, especially in D-1, where at least half of the top 10 finishers in all but two individual events featured non-seniors.

That list of returnees includes Madison East standouts in sophomore Aja Van Hout and senior Ruby Martin. Van Hout won the 200-yard individual medley (2:06.61) and 500-yard freestyle (4:58.68) and swam the anchor leg on the Purgolders' victorious 200-yard freestyle relay team.

Martin won the 50-yard freestyle (23.63) and captured second in the 100-yard free (51.08) while taking the first leg of East's first-place 200-yard medley relay squad.

East finished second to Memorial, which clocked a 3:30.26), in the 400-yard free relay and received a runner-up finish from junior Becca Soderholm in the 200 IM.

Madison Memorial swimming

Memorial finished second in the 200 free relay and third in the 200 medley relay and got a seconds from senior Kayla Smith in the 50 free and junior Jackie Powell in the 100-yard backstroke.

Other returning individual champions include Waukesha West junior Stephanie Armstrong, who won the 200 free in 1:50.23 and 100 free in 50.71; Madison West junior Kylie Rosenstock, who won the diving competition; Arrowhead sophomore Emma Goral, who won the 100-yard butterfly in 55.98; and Badger/Big Foot/Williams Bay junior Emily Russart, who won the 100-yard breaststroke in a state record time of 1:02.73, breaking the mark that Arrowhead's Maggie Zblewski set in 2005.

With all of the young talent coming back, several other state meet standards could be in jeopardy this fall, and that includes the D-2 competitions.

The team chase should also be hotly contested, at least in the relay events, because New London, Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol, New Berlin West, Monona Grove and Madison Edgewood each grabbed two top-five finishes.

Individually, defending titlists include Shorewood sophomore Clare Chamberlain, who won the 200 IM in 2:08.77; Grafton junior Sadie Nennig, who captured the 100 backstroke in 57.25; and Milton junior Jennah Haney, who won the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.05

DeForest must replace the likes of Kelly Winckler, who blazed to victories in the 200 free (1:53.58) and 500 free (5:00.86). And New Berlin West will be without the services of Beckie Thompson, who set a state D-2 record in the 50 free (23.26), breaking her own time from 2006 (23.31), and shattering the mark in the 100 free (50.61), besting Jamie Belfor of Shorewood's clocking of 51.25.

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