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Taper plan ends up working as sectional times plummet

Taper plan ends up working as sectional times plummet Taper plan ends up working as sectional times plummet


Five state-qualifying performances were just part of the story for the Medford Raiders during Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 sectional meet, which was split between the Medford and Rhinelander pools.

Season-best times abounded for Medford during Saturday’s briskly-paced meet, which took only two hours to complete. That was good news, as well as a relief, for the Raiders who spent a good portion of the season debating how to handle their season-ending taper process as they waited for the WIAA to finalize this year’s post-season format.

“I think it kind of worked in our favor because we started banking on sectionals probably in early October, right when they announced where state was going to be located,” Medford head coach Betsy Meinel said. “I know a lot of teams tapered for the last dual meet. A couple teams tapered for conference, so they didn’t have those big drops (Saturday). Rhinelander didn’t drop as much as people expected because they tapered conference, thinking it was their last meet. No one really knew.”

The split-meet format was different for the swimmers because they weren’t certain after their races where they stood regarding the sectional standings. That was especially true since Medford’s side of the meet ran ahead of Rhinelander’s. Also, Meinel and the Raiders had no idea how their times would compare to the rest of the state this year with so many teams, especially in the southern part of the state, not swimming this fall or opting out of the post-season. The top 12 nonwinning times in each event statewide qualified for state along with the four sectional champions in each race.

“I had no clue,” Meinel said. “Going into it, a lot of us were kinda bummed because we weren’t swimming the Rhinelanders, the Lakelands, the Wausau Easts, the big schools in our sectional that we thought. But Rice Lake and Menomonie, they brought it. We’re all having good showings at state. Going into it, I never expected this to be honest. If we got one (to state), I was going to be happy. Our sectional is so well-represented down there. I think in the 500-yard freestyle, we have three. Otherwise we have upwards of eight in each event. That never happens. So it’s nice that the bigger schools aren’t there. It gives other kids a chance.”

Medford is sending three individual entries and two relays to the state meet, set for Friday at Waukesha South High School (see page 1 story).

Senior Erin Bergman is shooting for her fourth top-six medal in the 100-yard backstroke. She won the Medford side of the meet and took third overall Saturday with her time of 59.6 seconds. Only Rhinelander’s Malia Francis (55.87) and Lisa Kennedy (59.51) were faster. Francis had the top qualifying time in the state.

Bergman was fifth in the 100-yard freestyle at 55.3 seconds and will make her first state appearance in that race.

Senior Morgan Ball took sixth in the 100-yard butterfly at 1:02.72 and got the last state-qualifying spot in that race. It’s her first individual state appearance.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Bergman, Aiden Denzer, Ball and Kami Razink dropped more than seven seconds and placed second in the Medford race and fourth overall at 1:54.07. They’ll look to better Medford’s 16th-place state finish of a year ago. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Lacey Brandner, Razink, Ball and Bergman was third in Medford and fifth overall at 3:54.46 and earned the 12th seed at state.

Team overview

Medford finished seventh in the team standings once all the sectional results were combined. The Raiders’ 162 points beat Merrill (149), Wittenberg-Birnamwood (102), Antigo (93), Tomahawk (69) and Colby-Abbotsford (68). Rhinelander, as expected, handily won the sectional title with 387 points, followed by Rice Lake (301), Wausau East (273), Lakeland (228), Menomonie (204) and the Ladysmith Co-op (191). Rice Lake, Menomonie, Ladysmith and Colby-Abbotsford swam at Medford. Mosinee pulled out of the meet Saturday morning.

Denzer was just over two seconds shy of a state berth in the 100-yard breaststroke. She took seventh overall in 1:15.64, a season-best by more than a second. Freshman Jackie Williams was 15th in event at 1:23.76, setting a personal-best by more than six seconds.

Freshman Colby Bergman had the breakthrough race she’s been working toward in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing eighth overall in 6:12 and cutting 21.13 seconds. Kirsten Weix was 18th in 6:40.42, knocking off more than six seconds, and junior Shaniah Brandt was 21st in a season-best 7:04.83 after missing the week of practice due to quarantine.

“There’s no reason (Colby) won’t go even faster next year,” Meinel said. “She’s got it in her. She definitely can do it. That one was a good one to see. I was very happy with that.”

Ball added an 11th-place time of 2:26.64 in the 200-yard individual medley, which was 5.31 seconds faster than her Great Northern Conference time on Oct. 22. Razink had a big day individually, taking 12th in the 50-yard freestyle at 26.17 seconds and 14th in the 100-yard freestyle at 58.84 seconds. She got under a minute for the first time in the 100 and under 27 seconds for the first time this fall in the 50.

Raider Jordyn Johnson tied for 20th in the 50 at 28.15 seconds, a personal-best by 1.4 seconds. Brandner was 19th in the 100 at 1:02.77, a new season-best by 1.15 seconds, and Maddie Williams was 24th in 1:06.1, cutting 2.25 seconds.

Freshman Breanna Kraemer took 13th in the 100-yard backstroke at 1:11.04, dropping 4.44 seconds from her previous best. Freshman Kaya Fortin was 22nd in 1:20.48, knocking off more than six seconds.

Weix dropped almost six seconds while leading Medford in the 200-yard freestyle with a 20th-place time of 2:26.8. Lydia Pernsteiner was 22nd in 2:32.65, just off her season-best of 2:31.66.

Medford’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Maddie Williams, Kraemer, Jackie Williams and Johnson finished ninth out of 11 teams in 1:53.64. It was the first time that combination had swam together in that event.

“Everyone got faster,” Meinel said. “They really did. Maybe a couple didn’t change as much time as we’ve normally had, but they definitely had been improving all season which is not something we normally see. So it was kinda nice to see everyone got faster from the beginning to the end.”

Raiders Maddie Williams (with Taz), Aiden Denzer and others urge Morgan Ball to swim faster during the 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday afternoon. The Raiders qualifi ed for state in this race with Lacey Brandner, Kami Razink, Ball and Erin Bergman finishing in 3:54.46.MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS