The River Falls divers stole the show at the WIAA Division 2 sectional Friday night, Nov. 2, in Wisconsin Rapids with sophomores Madison Berg, Eva Milka, Isabell Seyffer and Madisyn Tape sweeping the top four spots while all qualifying for the WIAA State Swimming and Diving Championships this Friday in Madison.
Berg took first with a score of 420.1, Mikla was second with 404.45, Seyffer placed third with 390.1 and Tape was fourth with 357.75. Berg automatically advanced to the state meet as sectional diving champion while Mikla, Seyffer and Tape finished among the top 16 scores from the four sectionals held statewide to advance.
"I have never been more proud of these four young ladies," Wildcat diving coach Renee Seipel said. "To have four girls from River Falls take up one-quarter of the spots at the state tournament is unheard of. They have talent, determination and resilience that is going to take them to the top. I expect to see great things from these divers in Madison this Friday and in the next two years."
It's the second trip to state for Mikla, Berg and Seyffer, who finished 9th, 11th and 13th, respectively, as freshmen in 2017, and the first for Tape. The Division 2 state diving competition will begin at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the UW-Madison Natatorium.
The Wildcats didn't get any swimmers to state, but that didn't diminish the pride head swim coach Rachael Jensen felt about the team following the swimming sectional Saturday, Nov. 3, at UW-Stevens Point.
"The girls have worked so hard these past few months, and on Saturday they started to see the fruits of their labor," Jensen said. "We had some personal all-time best swims, some girls on the podium, and a lot of happy faces post-race. I'm especially proud of how the girls have come together in support of each other. They cheer each other on, in and out of the pool, and that's really what it's all about."
Junior Samantha Troyer shaved over six seconds off her previous best effort in the 500 yard freestyle to reach the podium with a fifth place time of 5 minutes, 42.59 seconds, while freshman Jane Briese finished ninth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:05, over a second-and-a-half faster than her previous best.
"Her goal for sectionals was to drop below a 1:06," Jensen said about Briese. "On Saturday she accomplished that goal by pulling off a 1:05.00 in a close and exciting race."
Briese just missed a top-ten finish in the 200 individual medley by placing 11th in 2:28.89, nearly three seconds faster than her seeded time.
The only other top ten finish of the day came from the 200 freestyle relay team of freshman Sadie Otem, junior Isabelle Greenwood, Briese and junior Sophie Kolars with a tenth place time of 1:47.3. Ottem added an 11th place time of 1:06.25 in the 100 backstroke and took 12th in the 50 freestyle in 26.2 seconds.
River Falls finished ninth in the 13-team sectional with a score of 128.5. Merrill won the sectional team title with 267.5.