The only team ahead of the Baraboo girls swimming team on Saturday was the defending state champions.

The Thunderbirds competed in the Fort Atkinson Invitational, where 2016 WIAA Division 2 state champs Madison Edgewood met everyone’s expectations and took the title, but Baraboo wasn’t far behind. The Crusaders amassed 414 points at the top, while the Thunderbirds took second with 350.5.

“We were happy with it,” Baraboo coach Lynn Keeling said. “We didn’t swim any incredible times or anything, but it was Homecoming weekend, the girls all wanted to leave to get to the dance, and a lot of people had colds, so considering all of that, we still managed to step up and get the runner-up plaque.”

Baraboo came away with a few third-place finishes in the 11-event invite, but the most exciting result came from junior Kirby Tock in the 100-yard butterfly. In a rare occurrence, Tock ended the race in a tie for first place, as she and Milton’s Danielle Cramer each recorded a 59.99.

“She knows that swimmer; they’ve competed against each other,” Keeling said. “It was fun to watch. Kirby for her size, she is just quite a powerful butterfly (swimmer) and all-around swimmer, so that was definitely the race of the day. It was awesome.”

Baraboo started off the meet with a close second-place finish behind Edgewood in the 200 medley relay. Senior Mackenzie Koehler and juniors Taylor Bradley, Tock and Hannah Vittengl raced head-to-head with the Crusaders but were beaten down the stretch as the T-Birds recorded a 1:54.37 while Edgewood took first with a 1:53.33. Vittengl had the fastest split for Baraboo with a 25.98.

“We were actually ahead of them at one point, but it was just a super close, down-to-the-finish race,” Keeling said.

Vittengl took third in the 100 free (58.44), and Tock, Danielle Crum, Bradley and Naomi Pelland grabbed another third in the 200 free relay. The quartet finished seven-hundredths of a second behind Burlington in 1:46.95. Bradley added a third-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.05).

“Taylor Bradley got to go up against Jenna Silvestri from Edgewood, who tied for first at state last year, and was less than 1½ seconds off of her, so that was fun to see,” Keeling said.

Another third-place finish came from Koehler, Crum, Pelland and Vittengl in the 400 free relay (3:53.47). Other top Baraboo finishes included seventh place from Koehler in the 200 free (2:07.7), sixth place from Tock in the 200 individual medley (2:21.66), eighth place from Vittengl in the 50 free (26.89), fourth place from Pelland in the 100 free (58.74), ninth place from Leah Erdman in the 500 free (6:02.9) and fifth place from Koehler in the 100 backstroke (1:03.41).

“Naomi had some solid swims,” Keeling said. “She’s always strong and confident on the relays and that should be helpful down the stretch.”

Keeling was also proud of freshman Maria Vittengl, who wasn’t seeded to score in the 100 breaststroke but dropped her time and came away with an 11th-place finish (1:19.16). She was three spots behind Emily Bradley in eighth (1:17.41).

Burlington finished in third behind Baraboo with 303.5 points, followed by Lake Geneva Badger (208), Janesville Craig (198), Milton (193.5), Fort Atkinson (169), Elkhorn (162), Racine Horlick (94.5) and Watertown (77).

The T-Birds’ second-place finish boosted them to No. 2 in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Division 2 poll. Baraboo will be back in action Tuesday when it travels to DeForest for a conference dual meet.

Girls tennis

The Baraboo girls tennis team ran into tough competition on Friday and Saturday when the Thunderbirds traveled to Madison to compete in the Badger Conference Tournament at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

The T-Birds tied with Reedsburg for 12th place overall, winning one match. It came from Lexy Johnson at No. 4 singles, who took down Oregon’s Rachell Depuydt.

“Lexy Johnson had a breakthrough match against Depuydt from Oregon, coming back from a 4-3 deficit in the second set to win 6-2, 7-5 in the first round,” Baraboo coach Karll Kruse said.

Johnson eventually fell to eventual champion Courtney Pagnucci of Waunakee 6-1, 6-1 in the second round. In other singles play, Tate Bates fell to Beaver Dam’s Morgan Nelson 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, while Shani King-Vieux fell 6-0, 6-0 to Oregon’s Isabelle Krier at No. 2 and Rachel Walter fell 6-1, 6-1 to Monona Grove’s Maelia Dziedzic at No. 3. Dziedzic went on to lose in the championship match.

In doubles, Lizzie Showers and Sarah Anderson fell to Amanda Kessel and Grace Drake 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1, while Kim Jacome and Elena Holloway fell 6-2, 6-1 to Beaver Dam’s Evie Chatho and Maddie Biel at No. 2. Abby Gibbs and Claire Obois had a tough 6-0, 6-0 loss to eventual flight champions Lizzie Drake and Sarah Dunn at No. 3.

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Regional Sports Reporter