Panthers vying for strong sectional showing

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


MADDIE STRUTZ of Plymouth swims the 100-yard freestyle in Saturday’s EWC Meet at Kiel. Strutz finished second. PHS will host a D-2 sectional this weekend. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley MADDIE STRUTZ of Plymouth swims the 100-yard freestyle in Saturday’s EWC Meet at Kiel. Strutz finished second. PHS will host a D-2 sectional this weekend. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – Coming off a strong performance in winning the Eastern Wisconsin Conference girls swimming and diving title Saturday, the Plymouth Panthers are eyeing a good showing in this weekend’s Division 2 sectional meet.

The Panthers hope being at home will pay off in the diving and swimming competition. The diving will be held Friday at 6 p.m. and the swimming is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. The winners of each sectional event automatically qualify for the state meet along with the top-12 performances from all sectionals (excluding the winners).

“We have been working very hard this season and the girls have been swimming well, being tired. Now that we are getting more rest, in theory we should be able to swim faster,” said Panther head coach Mike Slagle.

“Physically I feel they will be ready. They have to believe that the program works and that they will get faster.”

Slagle’s main goal is for everyone on the team to achieve personalbest times and scores, and then let the chips fall where they may concerning state qualifiers. He said the Panthers’ top contenders for state berths are the divers and the three relays (200-yard medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle).

“The home pool is a definite advantage. The girls do not have to travel, we practice in the pool every night and we know the starts and turns,” said Slagle.

PHS diving coach Greg Heberlein said being at home is a big advantage for his divers because of their familiarity with the board and having the event at the same time as they normally practice.

Heberlein expects all four PHS divers – Taylor Knuth, Haley Olsen, Savannah Arneson and Rachel Romps – to have a shot at advancing to state. Knuth is a two-time defending sectional champion and placed fourth in the 2012 state meet. Olsen also competed at state last year.

Although Arneson is only a freshman, Heberlein thinks she has a good chance of qualifying for state. Arneson took third in the EWC Meet.

“I expect Taylor will repeat [as a sectional champion]. Her list of dives has gotten harder and she has had a great senior season,” Heberlein said.

“I’ve told the girls to have confidence in their dives. They are practicing each dive multiple times to that end. Repetition is the key,” said Heberlein.

“Taylor and Haley have been to state before and they want to go back.”

Slagle explained what the swimmers’ focus in practice is:

“Getting more rest and working on the finer details to each of their races, staying healthy,” he said.

The head coach said that obtaining personal-best times and scores will be the key to advancing to state.

Slagle expects Grafton and Ashwaubenon to be the top contenders for the sectional title. Grafton is ranked No. 1 in Division 2 and Ashwaubenon, No. 4. He said the rest of the field should be very competitive with each other.


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