HUDSON-- Hudson senior Ella Stein admitted she grew emotional when Raider coach Julia Rydberg presented her with her runner-up medal at the WIAA Division 1 Girls State Swimming and Diving Championships in Madison Saturday, Nov. 16.
“Coach Julia was picked to hand out the medals for the 100 breaststroke and when she gave me my medal, I really teared up,” Stein said.
Following the medal ceremony Stein rejoined her teammates, including fellow seniors Maree Elliott and Reagan Cicha, and said the tears continued to flow.
“We just fogged up and reminisced,” she said. “It was special.”
Stein set a pair of Hudson school records in her fourth and final state tournament appearance, earning her second state runner-up medal in the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 3.42 seconds and setting a new school mark of 2:07.00 to take ninth in the 200 individual medley, breaking the 24 year-old record of 2:07.31 held by Anne Cahoy, who would go on to star at the University of Minnesota.
After placing second at state in the 100 breaststroke in 2017 and sixth last year, Stein said standing on the podium for the final time as a Raider last weekend was extra special.
“It was an honor to be up there again,” she said. “Last year was a little rough for me personally so this year I wanted to make the podium and just have fun. I was just soaking it in, looking at the crowd and my teammates, knowing this was my last time.”
Stein wasn’t the only Raider to compete on state swimming’s biggest stage this weekend. One week after setting a new school record in the 200 medley relay, Stein, Cicha, freshman Rhian Neitzel and sophomore Hannah Zurn combined for an 18th place time of 1:50.15, while Stein, Elliott, junior Faith Eilertson and Zurn teamed up for a 17th place time of 1:40.45 in the 200 freestyle relay.
Elliott, Cicha, Netzel and Eilerston placed 21st in the 400 free relay in 3:43.41, and Eilertson finished 14th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.17, while junior Katie Auge placed 16th in diving with a score of 338.75.
Stein, Elliott and Cicha are part of a senior class that will leave quite a legacy at Hudson. The Raiders claimed four straight Big Rivers Conference championships and never lost a conference dual meet during that time.
“I really credit that to our team atmosphere,” Stein said. “We always bring a lot of energy to our dual meets and the girls always get up and ready to race.”
Stein said that’s what she’ll remember most about her time at Hudson.
“I think when I look back, I’ll truly remember the most being a part of a great team,” she said. “There were hugs all around whether you had a good or bad race.”
She said that’s one of the reasons she decided to continue her swimming career collegiately at the University of Nebraska.
“That was probably one of the most important things; how I felt and could I see myself being a part of this team and coaches,” she said. “That’s what makes me love swimming so much. It brings out the fun side of swimming. Even though it’s a lot of hard work it’s a family. And I’m definitely excited to be a Cornhusker. I’m extremely excited to be a part of a high level team and a great family.”
She said she had some simple advice for Hudson’s younger swimmers at this year’s state meet.
“There was some nervous energy at the beginning, but I just tried to give them the advice to live in the moment,” she said. “Just take advantage of the great opportunity of being at state to show what you can do.”
She also had high praise for head coach Rydberg and assistant coach Ashley Downing.
“Coach Julia has been one of the most influential people I’ve met,” Stein said. “She makes it fun and at the same time brings out the best of us. And Coach Ashley is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I give them a lot of credit.”
Hudson tied Appleton North for 18th place in the 40-team state standings with 30 points while Brookfield East took the team title with 243.