MHS swimmers win Big 8 title

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Gabriela Pierobon-Mays helped the Cardinals win a ninth straight Big Eight Conference title./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The streak goes on.

And not even a costly penalty could derail Middleton’s girls’ swimming and diving team.

The Cardinals rolled to a ninth straight Big Eight Conference title on Oct. 27, cruising to the championship in their own pool.

Middleton, the two-time WIAA Division 1 state champions, finished with 546.5 points to easily outdistance runner-up Sun Prairie (448). Madison West was third at 419, while Madison Memorial (415.5) and Verona/Mount Horeb (297) rounded out the top five.

“This was a very solid meet for us and a great start for our postseason play,” Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said.

Amazingly, Middleton won despite having its 86 points from the 500-yard freestyle wiped away. In that event, senior Makenna Licking finished first, while senior Hannah Aegerter was second. Senior Anna Thomley was fourth, freshman Molly Haag was fifth, sophomore Sarah Foley was eighth and freshman Amanda George was ninth.

But the Cardinals lost all of those points, because as the host team, Middleton failed to provide enough placards that count off laps for each swimmer in her lane (there were six available).

Under national federation swimming rules, any points scored by the host team are not counted for that event for violating the “pool, lane and equipment” provisions of the rules. 

National Federation rules state that if the host school doesn't provide “an adequate number of visual lap-counting devices for each visiting swimmer's lane, the host team shall be disqualified from scoring in the event.”

“The rules infraction was a pretty big blow to our morale and one that just should not have happened,” Cabalka said. “These girls give us everything they have, day in and day out, and deserved to finish their season at their very best and score points for their team. 

“When a rule penalizes athletes for something they had absolutely nothing to do with, I have a major issue with it. Nonetheless, a rule is a rule and we paid the price for it. Luckily, the girls were able to come together, lift each other up and swim their hearts out to pull out a win.”

Middleton did exactly that.

Middleton dominated the relays, with two first place finishes and a second.

The Cardinals’ quartet of junior Gabreila Pierobon Mays, junior Alex Anagnostopoulos, sophomore Ally Silvestri and junior Berkley Smith won the 200-yard medley relay.

Middleton’s 400-yard freestyle relay team of Licking, senior Cora Mack, Aegerter and Pierobon Mays was first.

And the foursome of Smith, sophomore Bella Chirafisi, Aegerter and Licking was second in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

“We started incredibly strong with a win in the medley relay, which we have struggled with all season,” Cabalka said. “We took a risk and made a change to the order which could have really thrown the girls off. They adjusted without a hitch and acted like veteran swimmers and it paid off. I was so proud of the momentum they gave us right from the start.”  

Licking and Aegerter went 1-2 in the 200-yard freestyle, while Chirafisi was seventh and senior Grace Madigan was eighth.

Silvestri was second in the 200-yard IM, senior Emily Keebler was fourth, Anagnostopoulos was seventh and sophomore Madelyn Lawn was ninth.

Mack was second in the 100-yard freestyle, freshman Abby Utter was sixth, Chirafisi was seventh and Smith was eighth.

Silvestri was second in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Anagnostopoulos was third, senior Sarah Wood was fourth and senior Amaya Berge was ninth.

Pierobon Mays was third in the 100-yard butterfly and sophomore Kaitlyn Peters was fourth.

Pierobon Mays was third in the 100-yard backstroke, senior Alexis Barrett was fifth and sophomore Norah Martin was eighth.

Smith was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle, while freshman Ella Needham was sixth.

“Winning on a big stage like this was pretty sweet,” Cabalka said. “Winning the Big Eight gets harder and harder every single year. 

“When five of the top-10 teams in the state are in your conference, you have to swim at your best. Luckily, we did and were able to secure our ninth straight title. In the end, we had season bests, lifetime bests and a lot of smiles. You can't ask for much more than that.”

Middleton will now host a sectional Saturday at 1 p.m. The Cardinals will then take aim at a third straight state title Nov. 10.

“As we head into sectionals, our goals remain the same,” Cabalka said. “Swim at our best, carry ourselves with integrity and class and showcase our talent in the best light possible. We have eyes on us at all times and a giant target on our back and these girls do a darn good job of staying focused on what matters most — us. 

“We have 18 entries and three relay teams and our goal is to qualify all 21 swims on to the state meet and leave no one behind. That said, we can only control what we can control. 

“Unlike other sports, it's not about winning the meet to move on. We have no idea what is happening in other sectionals throughout the state, so we just have to swim at our best, execute our races to perfection and hope that it's enough when all of those times come out. Anything can happen, certainly, but I have a ton of confidence that these girls can get it done. If we take 21 races to state, we'll be in a great place.”  

 

Girls swimming

BIG EIGHT CONFERENCE MEET

At Middleton

Team scores: Middleton 546.5; Sun Prairie 448; Madison West 419; Madison Memorial 415.5; Verona/Mount Horeb 297; Madison La Follette 60; Beloit Memorial 42; Janesville Craig 34; Madison East 16; Janesville Parker 10.

200 medley relay — 1, Middleton (Mays, Silvestri, Anagnostopoulos, Smith), 1:47.85; 2, Sun Prairie, 1:48.85; 3, Verona, 1:49.51; 4, Madison West A, 1:50.68; 5, Madison West B, 1:51.04. 200 freestyle — 1, Makenna, M, 1:55.35; 2, Aegerter, 1:56.90; 3, McKeon, MM, 1:57.28; 4, Davis, SP, 1:57.59; 5, Nelson, SP, 1:57.73. 200 individual medley — 1, Bennin, V/MH, 2:05.45; 2, Silvestri, M, 2:08.56; 3, Evy, MW, 2:11.13; 4, Schulz, SP, 2:11.22; 4, Keebler, M, 2:11.22. 50 freestyle — 1, Fiske, SP, :23.72; 2, Terry, MLF, :24.62; 3, Sullivan, MW, :24.81; 4, Berkley, M, :24.86; 5, Zuehl, V/MH, :25.32. 100 butterfly — 1, Marty, MW, :57.57; 2, Stewart, V/MH, :58.78; 3, Mays, M, :58.83; 4, Peters, M, :59.27; 5, Nelson, SP, :59.52. 100 freestyle — 1, Fiske, SP, :52.11; 2, Mack, M, :54.00; 3, Sullivan, MW, :54.34; 4, DeFever, MM, :54.37; 5, Moericke, SP, :54.83. 500 freestyle — 1, Licking, M, 5:11.22; 2, Aegerter, M, 5:14.90; 3, Granetzke, MW, 5:16.15; 4, Thomley, M, 5:16.63; 5, Haag, M, 5:17.13. 200 freestyle relay — 1, Sun Prairie (Moericke, Marshall, Anderson, Fiske), 1:38.33; 2, Middleton, 1:38.90; 3, Verona, 1:40.01; 4, Madison Memorial, 1:40.07; 5, Madison West, 1:40.32. 100 backstroke — 1, Schick, MW, :58.01; 2, Marty, MW, :58.04; 3, Mays, M, :58.51; 4, Stewart, V, :59.15; 5, Barrett, M, :59.67. 100 breaststroke — 1, Bennin, V, 1:04.01; 2, Silvestri, M, 1:05.01; 3, Anagnostopolous, M, 1:06.43; 4, Wood, M, 1:08.53; 5, Bissen, MM, 1:08.73. 400 freestyle relay — 1, Middleton A (Licking, Mack, Aegerter, Pierobon), 3:31.59; 2, Sun Prairie, 3:37.49; 3, Middleton B, 3:37.49; 4, Madison Memorial, 3:39.43; 5, Madison West, 3:39.43.

 

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