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Ready to make a splash
Cheesemakers send 2 relays, 5 individual swimmers to state
Erstad 500 free
Monroe’s Morgan Erstad won the 500-yard freestyle at the WIAA Division 2 sectional in Baraboo Nov. 3. - photo by Adam Krebs

MONROE — The Cheesemakers have just a few days to recoup from their best day in the pool and prepare for the WIAA Division 2 state meet.

“I’m going to do a lot of stretching so I’m not dying,” said freshman Morgan Erstad, who will compete in four events — two relays and two individual swims. “I’m going to try to eat healthier than I did this past week, because I did not eat healthy. I’ll try to calm myself down for Friday.”

Erstad will be joined by fellow freshmen Alyssa Roelli and Karley Michels, sophomores Francesca Schiro and Mekenzie Hammer and senior Nina Schiro.

Only the four sectional champions in each race is guaranteed a trip to the state meet, with the remaining 12 spots going to the next best times from all the sectionals combined. That means that it is unknown for several hours who will be advancing or not.

“That is the most nerve-wracking thing — to go home and sit and watch,” Monroe-New Glarus coach Linda Moser said. “Notoriously, one of the four divisions is always really slow when you’re sitting their counting.”

The state heat sheets and lane assignments came out late Saturday. 

If you go ...

What: WIAA Division 2 state swim meet

Where: UW-Madison Natatorium, 2000 Observatory Drive, Madison

When: Friday, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $6 all-day pass (tickets available 1:30 p.m.)

Erstad, Roelli, Michels and Hammer will open the meet in the first heat of the 200-yard medley relay. The quartet’s school-record time of 1 minute, 52.70 seconds tied Sauk Prairie for the ninth-best sectional time around the state. The top 16 in each event reached the state meet.

“I’m really proud of all my teammates,” said Hammer. “They did amazing. It was a huge shocker.”

Madison Edgewood is the favorite to win the relay, with the top qualifying time of 1:48.05 at the Baraboo Sectional — the same sectional as Monroe.

With three freshmen on the Cheesemakers’ relay team, Moser said that at this point the swim season is different than the club meets the girls have been accustomed to competing in throughout their lives.

“They’ve been to huge meets, but here it’s one swim and you’re done. That’s your one chance, that’s it. It’s a whole different type of pressure,” Moser said. “I felt that the freshmen girls as a whole really handled that pressure well (at sectionals).”

Hammer then races next in the 200-yard individual medley — the race that features all four main swimming strokes; freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. Hammer’s school-record time of 2:09.90 was the top mark in the state over all four sectionals, which mean’s she’ll be able to swim in Lane 4 in the second and final heat.

The next big race for Monroe-New Glarus is the 500-yard freestyle, which will feature Nina Schiro (Lane 1, Heat 1) and Erstad (Lane 1, Heat 2). Schiro had broken the school record in the event earlier in her career, but Erstad has shredded that mark and topped her teammate by nearly 10 seconds at the regional (5:19.66-5:29.02). Tomahawk’s Kylee Theiler is the top seed with a 5:09.50. 

Hammer and Erstad will compete against each other in the 100-yard backstroke in Lanes 5 and 7. Hammer (57.99), the defending state champion in the event, is the second seed to Edgewood freshman Anna teDuits (57.45), while Erstad (59.00) earned the sixth best time at sectionals.

In the last race of the night, in the second and final heat, Hammer and Erstad will be joined by the Schiro sisters in the 400-yard relay. The Cheesemakers’ time of 3:40.08 is a new school record and was the sixth-best time at regionals. Edgewood (3:34.58) has the top seed.

“Everybody gets most pumped for that (race),” Erstad said. “Everybody on our team gets pumped and we are just screaming behind the blocks and excited and ready to go.”

Edgewood is the defending team champion, dominating the field in 2017 with 346 points, finishing well ahead of New Berlin Eisenhower (202), McFarland (194.5), Tomahawk (142) and eighth-place Monroe-New Glarus (99). In fact, Edgewood has won the past three state meets and was second in 2014.

Edgewood has 18 entries into Friday’s meet, most of any school. Whitnall has 14, McFarland 12, and Tomahawk 10, while Monroe has seven.