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Swimming Remains Top-Ranked

Crusader Swimming Cruises to the Top
Edgewood SwimmingWisconsin State Journal, Madison -- The final bow was tied on Madison Edgewood senior Kelly Rodriguez’s high school swimming career and she was bursting with joy.

The celebration was in full swing poolside with her teammates — or simply “all these awesome girls,” as she described them.

“It’s amazing,” Rodriguez said. “It’s more than I could have ever believed.”

The Crusaders again reigned supreme at the WIAA Division 2 state girls swimming and diving meet, which was thoroughly dominated by area competitors Friday night at the UW Natatorium.

Edgewood won its third consecutive state team title, broke its own record with 346 points and established three state records.

University of Kentucky commit Rodriguez set a record in winning the 200-yard freestyle for the third time and also earned the 500 freestyle title, while Jenna Silvestri, a UW commit, won the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. The Crusaders swept all three relays, breaking records in the 200 individual medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay.

“I knew they had it in them,” Crusaders coach Emily Schwabe said. “We had some goals beyond winning the team title. It was an amazing job by everybody. … We wanted to set a new bar in Division 2 for teams in the future.”

The Crusaders, who won seven events, easily outdistanced runner-up New Berlin Eisenhower, which finished with 202 points.

McFarland, led by two-event winner Alexandra Moderski, was third with 194.50 points after placing second the past two years.

“I would not trade this moment for anything,” said Silvestri, who transferred to Edgewood this season after swimming for the Kohler co-op. “There is nothing like it.”

Area competitors won the first five events — including Monona Grove senior Nikki Benedict in diving, which started the meet — and wound up winning 11 of the 12 events. Monroe/New Glarus freshman Mekenzie Hammer claimed the 100 backstroke in 58.22 seconds.

“It’s amazing how much swimming talent there is in the Madison area,” Rodriguez said.

The Crusaders’ 200 medley relay got Edgewood rolling in the first swimming event, the team of junior Kaitlyn Barth, Silvestri, junior Issy Petersen and sophomore Maeve O’Driscoll finishing first in a state-record 1 minute, 44.59 seconds. The old mark was Grafton’s 1:45.87 in 2015. McFarland was second in 1:47.67.

Rodriguez then followed with a state record while winning the 200 freestyle in 1:48.39, shattering the 2012 mark of 1:48.83 of Shorewood’s Kristin Malone. Edgewood sophomore DeeDee Walker was the runner-up in 1:54.57.

Silvestri then claimed first in the 200 individual medley in 2:04.03. DeForest sophomore Haley Willis finished third in 2:10.02. Later, Silvestri, who tied for the breaststroke title in 2016, won it again, finishing first in 1:04.13.

Moderski, a junior, won the 50 freestyle for the third consecutive time, finishing first in :22.91 — just missing her own 2015 state record of :22.84. Edgewood’s O’Driscoll and Barth finished second and third, respectively.

Moderski later finished in :50.69 and won the 100 freestyle, an event she claimed in 2015. Barth and Petersen were second and third, respectively.

“It’s really exciting,” Moderski said. “My competitors from Edgewood were the top dogs in the team (race). I knew I had competition, so I tried my best to push it out and finish. I broke those records (in the 50 and 100 freestyle) as a freshman and this year I wanted to show myself that I could do it again, but I got close enough.”

Edgewood’s O’Driscoll, Barth, Walker and Rodriguez won the 200 freestyle relay in a record 1:35.26 and Rodriguez, Walker, Petersen and Silvestri combined to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:30.39. That meant Rodriguez and Silvestri were each involved in four event victories.

Monona Grove's Benedict, the top seed after sectionals, won her first diving title.

“It feels great,” Benedict said. “I thought I dove well.”

She compiled 481.20 points — the fifth-best total all-time in Division 2. New Berlin West senior Dailey Albino was second with 436.40 points, ahead of Monona Grove freshman Trinity McNall, third with 410.25.

“There was a lot of additional pressure on me, but I tried not to let it get into my head and I focused on my diving,” Benedict said.

Benedict, an Iowa State commit, finished second last year, after placing fourth as a freshman and sophomore.

“I tried to focus on taking one dive at a time, not trying to worry too much, and having fun,” Benedict said.

Eisenhower senior Bella Passamani defended her title in the 100 butterfly, winning in :55.77.