Solid execution of a sound strategy and a bit of good fortune helped the Whitnall girls swimming team win the Woodland Conference Relays on Sept. 24 at Shorewood.
“It was a really big victory for us because on paper, Shorewood has the most depth,” Whitnall coach Dale Schrank said. “They had the highest number of quality swimmers.
“Generally, relay meets are a test of depth, so we knew going into the meet that we were the underdogs. The speech we have the girls on the bus before we got off was although on paper they’re ahead of us, relay meets are kind of a test of not so much how fast you’re swimming; it’s about how smart you swim.”
That means pacing yourself. It does no good to win an event by 15 seconds if it means not having enough left in the tank for other events.
Schrank enjoys the challenge of relay meets.
“It’s a little bit of a chess game, trying to make sure you have 12 good relays, but no great relays,” he said.
Elizabeth Bishop participated on three of Whitnall’s four first-place teams, and the Falcons finished with 320 points. Shorewood came in second with 296.
Bishop and 400-yard medley relay team members Rachel Kornhoff, Kate Schubert and Danika Johnson completed the event in 4 minutes, 20.30 seconds.
The winning 300 breaststroke foursome of Bishop, Schubert, Rebecca Powers and Laura Sullivan finished in 3:41.14. The 200 medley team of Samantha Wesel, Johnson, Kornhoff and Bishop captured first place with a time of 2:00.10.
Wesel was on the 800 freestyle team with Rachel Howard, Gina Villani and Emma Smith that came home in 8:41.18.
The good fortune came when Johnson, a freshman, was able to successfully fill in for injured teammate Laura Engel in the diving competition. Johnson joined Cori Steger and Tess Dorlack to save the meet.
“Dana, who had tried diving for three or four days once before, but wasn’t very comfortable with it, had to compete on the diving relay or that relay was scratched,” Schrank said. “Ultimately, they took third and scored 24 points.”
That turned out to be the winning margin.
“Obviously, if we had scratched that relay, the meet would have been tied,” the coach said. “It was important that she stepped up and got through those three dives, even though she didn’t feel very comfortable doing it.”
Bishop knew how big it was for Johnson to step up.
“She went into the meet and she had never dove before,” Bishop said. “She helped our diving relay get to third, and those diving points made up for some points we would have needed to win the meet.
“It means she has a lot of guts, and that she’s willing to try new things. That’s really good for a swim team.”
The Falcons received a second-place showing from the 400 medley team of Bishop, Smith, Villani and Schubert (4:34.25) and the 300 backstroke team of Kate Thomas, Villani, Kornhoff and Wesel (3:17.35).
The Falcons also took thirds in the 100 medley (Maddy Topitzes, Amy Reese, Kornhoff and Powers in 1:02.90), 300 butterfly (Villani, Schubert, Powers and Wesel in 3:15.04), 500 free (Reese, Thomas, Smith and Howard in 5:10.96) and 400 free (Thomas, Sullivan, Howard and Smith in 4:03.57).
“Right now, we’re training great as a team,” Schrank said. “We needed a good confidence-building meet.
“Certain meets will test your top varsity swimmers, this was a meet that tested the 16 swimmers (on each team). I was beaming after that meet. Our team swam extremely well, made no mistakes and pulled off a really strong victory over a team that on paper was stronger than we were.”
Greendale’s 200 free team of Erin Connell, Audra Lisowski, Ashlyn Potterton and Chelsea Geisige placed second in 1:49.71. The Panthers netted 198 points to tie for fifth place with Pewaukee.
Greenfield’s best finish came from Lindsay Bakken, Sienna Bast, Nicole Lederich and Megan Fosnow, who swam fifth in the 200 medley in 2:11.66.
Jerry Karpowicz can be reached at (262) 446-6628.
Woodland RELAYS Relays
Brown Deer/University School 292
New Berlin West 224
New Berlin Eisenhower 192
Wauwatosa West 182
St. Thomas More/St. Francis 54