The Lakeland girls’ swim team finished its 2019 season swimming its best, including attaining a couple of notable achievements.
One thing they did was qualify four girls to the state meet for the first time since 2015. Rylee Ahlborn, Naomi Hamerla, Mariah Angove and Brie Wescott all competed at the WIAA Division 2 girls’ state swimming and diving championships Friday, Nov. 15 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Natatorium.
“They had put in a lot of work to get there and that’s what you want to see — the payoffs at the end,” coach Chris Garcia said. “That definitely was a highlight for them.”
As a team, the girls competed in both the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay. They sought a school record and a spot on the podium in one or both of the events.
And they did just that in the 200. In the 200-yard freestyle, the Thunderbirds broke the school record with a time of 1:40.50, breaking their previous record they set on Nov. 1 at the Great Northern Conference meet. That school record time put them on the podium in a sixth place spot.
“It was great to get that record to end the season,” Garcia said. “And I don’t think (they’re) done yet.”
Ahlborn also participated as an individual at state in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. In the 50, she set a lifetime best with a swim of 25.15, placing 12th overall.
Another highlight for Ahlborn this season was swimming a split of 53.20 as the anchor in the 400-yard freestyle relay at the sectional meet in Wisconsin Rapids on Nov. 9, helping qualify her team to state.
“(Rylee’s) really kind of matured and understands that to compete with those girls at state takes an incredible amount of work during the offseason and out of the season,” Garcia said. “This is motivating her for next year.”
In that sectional meet, the Thunderbirds broke the 400-yard freestyle school record with a time of 3:41.54.
The other individual to qualify in an event at state was Angove in the 100-yard breaststroke, where she swam a time of 1:11.78.
Hamerla’s top two swims came in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle. At the sectional meet, Hamerla swam a time of 1:02.28 in the butterfly and a time of 2:06.41 in the freestyle, both good for a top ten finish.
“(Naomi’s) just a workhorse,” Garcia said. “She will do anything else I will ask her to do.”
Wescott came in and competed at a high level as a freshman all season long. She swam a number of events ranging from the 50-yard freestyle to the 500-yard freestyle. At sectionals, she swam a time of 25.77 in the 50-yard freestyle.
“(Brie) handled it well,” Garcia said. “There’s a lot of pressure coming in a freshman and making it all the way to state and I think just getting there will help her next year.”
Megan Ross swam a couple of good times at the sectional meet. In the 100-yard freestyle, she swam a 59.56 and in the 100-yard backstroke she swam a time of 1:04.23, just two seconds away from the school record.
Carly Main finished her season on a high note as well. In the 100-yard freestyle, she swam a lifetime best swim of 1:06.08 at sectionals.
Nina Starynski swam a lifetime best in the 500-yard freestyle at sectionals. She swam time of 6:02.50, almost six seconds faster than her seed time.
“When you’re all practicing with each other and you’re in that pool everyday, you count on everyone to come in with the right attitude, the right outlook on practice so the team as a whole is a contributing factor to the success,” Garcia said.
Hanna Wegner-Clements also set a lifetime best in the 500 at sectionals, swimming a time of 6:49.84.
Morgan Nowak swam a lifetime best in the 100-yard backstroke, swimming a time of 1:14.33 at the sectional meet.
Cameryn Teichmiller swam her best at the end of the season as well. At sectionals, she swam a lifetime best in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:22.31.
Lacrosse Margitan swam in the 100-yard breaststroke at conference where she finished sixth with a time of 1:20.13.
In the 100-yard backstroke, Amanda Kosmen swam a time of 1:06.97 at the conference meet, a number that put her fifth overall.
Another highlight as a team came at the Great Northern Conference meet on Nov. 1 on the campus of UW-Stevens Point. At that meet, the Thunderbirds finished in second place with 288 points, just 21 points behind Rhinelander.
“At conference, (there was0 lots of energy from everybody and really it wasn’t just the top performers that stepped up and came up with some awesome swims,” Garcia said. “It was every single person and that’s exactly what you need in a conference meet because everybody needs to contribute and get those points so the team can do well.”
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]