Hudson’s girls’ 200 yard medley relay team set the tone for the WIAA Division 1 swimming and diving sectional right off the bat Saturday.
Reagan Cicha, Ella Stein, Rhian Neitzel, and Hannah Zurn crushed the school record in the very first event of the meet on their way to a second place finish, and every Raider swimmer went on to post a personal best time. And when the dust settled, the Raiders claimed the sectional team title by 16 points over a very strong D.C. Everest team.
The effort resulted in three individuals and three Raider relay teams qualifying for this weekend’s state meet in Madison.
“The athletes showed tremendous sportsmanship, drive, and gratitude,” head coach Julia Rydberg said. “They cheered each other on, swam some lifetime bests, and represented Hudson with the utmost grace.”
Cicha, Stein, Neitzel and Zurn combined for a new school record time of 1 minute, 47.93 seconds in the 200 medley relay to punch their ticket to state, finishing just three-tenths of a second behind first-place D.C. Everest.
It just got better from there for the Raider relays.
Maree Elliott, Faith Eilertson, Hannah Zurn and Ella Stein won the 200 freestyle relay sectional title with a time of 1:40.01, with Stein swimming the anchor leg in a personal best time of 23.63 seconds.
Elliott, Cicha, Neitzel and Ellertson earned a spt at state in the 400 free relay with a fourth place time of 3:42.26.
Stein added a pair of sectional titles to her day, winning the 200 individual medley in 2:07.68 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.98. The senior, who will swim at the University of Nebraska next fall, is seeded third in the 24-swimmer field in the 100 breaststroke at state.
“Ella has incredible drive,” Rydberg said. “She continuously leads by example during practice, doing everything with intention.”
Eilertson also qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke with a third place time of 1:05.89 at Saturday’s sectional.
“Faith injects joy into all that she does,” Rydberg said. “She remains calm under pressure and is a fantastic racer.”
Junior diver Katie Auge will join her teammates at state after finishing as sectional runner-up with a score of 394.15.
The Raiders finished with a total of 359 points to win the sectional team title while D.C. Everest finished with 343 and Stevens Point took third with 316.
Neitzel boosted Hudson’s team score with a second place time of 2:11.94 in the 200 individual medley but came up just short of a qualifying time for state, while Eilertson contributed a third place time of 25.0 seconds in the 50 free and Cicha was third in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.63 and the 100 backstroke in 1:00.01.
Elliott added a fourth place time of 55.41 seconds in the 100 freestyle and Zurn was fourth in the 500 free in 5:27.24.
Rydberg reiterated that every member of the team had a hand in the Raider’s sectional title.
“Every athlete swam season bests,” she said. “The athletes trusted the taper process, celebrated each others accomplishments, and set high goals.”
The WIAA Division 1 Girls Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Natatorium on the campus of UW-Madison. Diving competition will begin at 10 a.m. with swimming at 3 p.m.