In recent seasons, the Muskego girls swimming team has been able to assemble a large contingent for the WIAA Division 1 State Meet.
This year proved to be no exception, as the Warriors boast 10 entries for the meet, which takes place on Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium.
They qualified through their performances in a sectional on Saturday at Waukesha South in which Muskego tallied 268 points to finish third, trailing only powerful Waukesha South-Mukwonago with 416 points and Arrowhead with 379 points.
"The sectional meet was outstanding for Muskego," co-head coach Megan Herrick said. "We knew that each one of our girls had to really race and dive well to make it to the state meet. The girls went above and beyond, and in this meet, many had lifetime-best times."
Advancing to state in individual events are sophomore Erin Scholz in diving, junior Kari Balson in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke, freshman Ellie Szczupakiewicz in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, freshman Lauren Stigler in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke and junior Casey Balson in the 100 breaststroke.
Relay teams moving on are the 200 medley group of freshman Payton Zess, Stigler, Szczupakiewicz and Kari Balson and the 400 freestyle group of junior Sara Biro, freshman Lilly Larsen, Kari Balson and Stigler.
Scholz had the highest spot in the sectional, taking second in diving with 337.35 points.
Placing third were Stigler in the breaststroke at 1 minute, 5.98 seconds; Zess, Stigler, Szczupakiewicz and Kari Balson in the 200 medley relay with 1:49.59; and Biro, Larsen, Kari Balson and Stigler in the 400 freestyle relay at 3:41.76.
Taking fifth were Stigler in the butterfly at 59.04 seconds and Kari Balson in the 100 breaststroke with 1:07.84. Finishing sixth were Szczupakiewicz in the backstroke at 59.6 and Casey Balson in the breaststroke with 1:08.86.
"Lauren is only a freshman this year and swam season-best times in the 100 fly and 100 breast," Herrick said. "What was really fantastic was her swim as anchor in the 400 free relay. When she is behind that block ready for her race, she is not only physically prepared to swim but also mentally prepared; she is a true competitor."
Coming in eighth were Kari Balson in the IM with 2:15.51 and Szczupakiewicz in the butterfly at 59.39.
"Kari (Balson) also swam incredibly well in her individuals and in her relays," Herrick said. "Kari is great at being very focused and competitive during her races. When the pressure is on, that is when Kari performs at her best."
Szczupakiewicz, who will compete in three events at state, is the sister of Emma, who won Muskego's first-ever state championship by taking the backstroke in 2010.
Claiming spots in the top eight at the sectional but not advancing to state were Jessie Keiser in diving, fifth with 324.35 points; Larsen in the 200 freestyle, eighth at 2:00.74; Biro in the 50 freestyle, eighth with 25.33; and the 200 freestyle relay of Szczupakiewicz, Larsen, Casey Balson and Biro, sixth with 1:43.01.
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