Every high school swimmer wants to finish the season on the state podium.
Four Baraboo athletes made that climb on Friday night, as the Thunderbirds finished fourth in a pair of events and took seventh as a team at the WIAA Division 2 state girls swimming and diving championships at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
The T-Birds podiumed in their first event of the day, as the 200-yard medley relay team of Mackenzie Koehler, Taylor Bradley, Kirby Tock and Hannah Vittengl finished fourth overall with a time of 1 minute, 49.38 seconds.
“They had big goals, but they had good times, so they’re happy,” Baraboo head coach Lynn Keeling said of the 200-yard medley team, which entered the meet seeded second behind Madison Edgewood.
Edgewood set a state record on Friday with a time of 1:44.59, while McFarland (1:47.67) and New Berlin Eisenhower (1:48.56) also finished ahead of the T-Birds.
“I think we went out there and proved that we’re one of the best medley relays in the state and we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Tock said.
Tock had the third-fastest butterfly leg in the relay and turned that speed into a podium finish in the 100-yard butterfly. The junior touched the wall in a personal-best time of 58.02 seconds to place fourth in the event, which New Berlin Eisenhower senior Bella Passamani won in 55.77 seconds. Tock’s time was a slight improvement from her :58.11 that won the Stoughton sectional title last Saturday.
“That was crazy. All those girls are so fast,” Tock said. “So it was just cool to stand up on the podium again and I had a better time.”
The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Koehler, Naomi Pelland, Tock and Vittengl came just tenths of a second away from the podium. The quartet touched the wall in 3:41.54 to place seventh, just behind Whitefish Bay, which took the final awards spot in 3:41.40.
“All the relays pulled through like they normally do,” assistant coach Ashley Dietsch-Schreiber said.
Bradley just missed out on a medal in the 100-yard breaststroke, but the junior swam to the fastest time in Baraboo history in the event. Bradley’s 1:08.09 placed eighth overall and beat the school record set by Marlie Keeling, the coach’s daughter, in 2003.
“She wanted to get in the medal stand, but that’s a new team record,” Keeling said. “That was great that she broke the record, so she should be thrilled with that.”
Vittengl added a 13th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke. The junior, swimming in her first individual event at state, touched the wall in 1:10.46 to drop almost a second off her time at sectionals (1:11.27).
Bradley placed 15th in the 200 individual medley (2:19.66) in her first trip to the state meet.
Koehler also swam in a pair of individual events on Friday. The senior, in her third state meet, placed 14th in the 100 backstroke (1:01.49) and 15th in the 200 freestyle (1:59.81).
Pelland, Danielle Crum, Bradley and Vittengl also lowered their time from sectionals in the 200 freestyle relay, placing 11th in 1:42.51.
“The relays swam really well,” Tock said. “The medley, I know we definitely wanted a little faster, but we swam great and we podiumed so we have to be happy with that. And our 400 free relay I was so impressed with. We almost podiumed by one-tenth, but we came in the first heat and won, so we’re proud of that. The 200 free relay dropped time too, so I think we all just really wanted it tonight.”
Baraboo tallied 103 points to finish seventh in the team race. Edgewood won the title with a team score of 346, well out in front of New Berlin Eisenhower (202), McFarland (194.5), Tomahawk (142), Whitefish Bay (134.5) and DeForest (134).
“We exceeded our expectations I think this year,” Dietsch-Schreiber said. “We were a little nervous after last season, losing nine seniors.”
It was a solid finish for Koehler and Crum, the two Baraboo seniors who swam on Friday night.
“As soon as Hannah touched the wall in the 400 free relay, I just started balling,” Koehler said. “I was like, ‘This is done; I’m not a part of this anymore.’ And I still want to be a part of it, so it’s really hard to accept fact that next year I’m not able to swim with these girls. I’ve been swimming with them for over four years. I wouldn’t want to go to state with anyone else.”
“We had a lot of fun,” Keeling added. “We didn’t realize exactly what we were going to have after losing all of those seniors. But they had a really nice year.”