MIDDLETON — Middleton senior Hannah Aegerter was eager to erase last year’s WIAA Division 1 girls swimming sectional from her memory.
After she competed in the 200-yard freestyle a year ago, her pulse rate raced out of control and she felt faint. Aegerter received medical attention on the pool deck and was taken to a nearby hospital. She would be OK, but her sectional competition was done two races into the meet.
A year later, Aegerter won the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 52.02 seconds and the 500 freestyle (5:00.76) at Saturday’s Middleton sectional.
“I just came in not feeling as much pressure as the years in the past,” said Aegerter, who has orally committed to swim at the University of Illinois. “I really wanted to take it that way. I wanted to have a more chill day, so I wouldn’t have so much anxiety and nerves because last year this meet didn’t go how I wanted. I just wanted to make the best of today and I felt like I did.”
Aegerter led top-ranked Middleton to the championship with 317 points, just five points ahead of fourth-ranked and runner-up Sun Prairie. Madison West (291) was third and Verona/Mount Horeb (289) fourth in the 14-team meet.
“(Aegerter) was really a different swimmer than she has been all year,” Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said. “She clicked into a different gear today — one we knew she always was capable of. But she swam at a different level. She looked super strong and confident.”
Middleton’s victory celebration was muted by a disqualification for a false start after placing second in the 400 freestyle relay. That means two-time defending state champion Middleton won’t advance that relay to next Saturday’s state meet at the UW Natatorium.
“Everything was so good and so positive to that point, and then to end that way … When you end on a sour note, it’s tough,” Cabalka said.
The stars definitely came out to shine Saturday as Sun Prairie sophomore Sophie Fiske, Madison West senior Katrina Marty and Verona/Mount Horeb senior Grace Bennin each won two individual events in a meet where event winners automatically qualify for the state meet.
Fiske won the 50 freestyle (:23.79) and 100 freestyle (:52.04) and was part of two victorious relays for Sun Prairie — the 200 freestyle (1:36.79) and 400 freestyle (3:28.50).
“My team is so motivational and they are so much fun; I think that got my adrenaline going,” said Fiske, who hasn’t tapered yet. “(Second as a team) means the world. It was so cool. We’ve never gotten second at sectionals.”
Nancy Harms, savoring the first second-place sectional finish in her 18 years as Sun Prairie’s coach, said of Fiske’s performance: “Very impressive. She’s a competitor and she wants to win. And she brings everyone along with her.”
Arizona State University recruit Marty won the 100 butterfly (:55.36) and the 100 backstroke (:56.29).
“I’m very pleased with how I’m swimming,” said Marty, the two-time defending state champion in the backstroke. “I’m hoping next week I can go faster. Right now, it’s just making it to state. It’s not really about winning. For me, it’s about doing my best.”
University of Minnesota recruit Bennin won the 200 individual medley (2:04.08) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.14) — finishing ahead of runner-up Ally Silvestri of Middleton in both races — and was part of her team’s winning 200 medley relay (1:45.28). Bennin broke her own pool record in the breaststroke.
“Anything can happen at any meet, so you don’t want to go in thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got this,’ because you might not,” Bennin said. “I always try to go in confident and try to give it my best. And I had eyes on getting a pool record.”
At last year’s state meet, Bennin defended her breaststroke title and won the 50 freestyle.
Madison West’s Leah Mickelson was the diving sectional winner Friday night.