Experience boosts Panthers’ state hopes

All but one of PHS’ qualifiers have been to state D2 meet before
by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH GIRLS swimming and diving team will compete in three events at Friday’s state meet. The Panthers’ state qualifiers include (front row, left to right) Maddie Strutz, Anna Theisen, (back row) Haley Olsen (diver), Taylor Knuth (diver), Delaney Olsen and Meghan Roelse. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley THE PLYMOUTH GIRLS swimming and diving team will compete in three events at Friday’s state meet. The Panthers’ state qualifiers include (front row, left to right) Maddie Strutz, Anna Theisen, (back row) Haley Olsen (diver), Taylor Knuth (diver), Delaney Olsen and Meghan Roelse. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH — Previous state experience will be a plus for the Plymouth Panthers in Friday’s Division 2 girls state swimming and diving meet at the UWMadison Natatorium.

All but one of Plymouth’s competitors have been in the state meet before. Senior diver Taylor Knuth is the Panthers’ top medal contender. Knuth, who will be in her fourth straight state meet, is seeded No. 2 (based on sectional performances).

Knuth had a career-best score of 412.20 points for 11 dives in the sectional at PHS Friday night. She earned state medals each of the past two years with a fourth place last season and a third in 2011.

The Panthers’ other state qualifiers are senior diver Haley Olsen, who is making her second trip to state (she placed 14th last year); junior Maddie Strutz in the 100-yard freestyle; and the 400 relay team of Strutz, seniors Meghan Roelse and Delaney Olsen and sophomore Anna Theisen. Strutz is seeded 13th in the 100 and the 400 relay is 15th.

The diving competition will start at 2:30 p.m. and the swimming gets under way at 6:30 p.m.

In last year’s state meet, Delaney Olsen, Roelse and Strutz were on the Panthers’ 200 and 400 freestyle relays which finished ninth and 11th, respectively. Delaney Olsen also competed in the 200 medley relay which took 12th at state a year ago.

Head coach Mike Slagle and diving coach Greg Heberlein said the past state experience is very helpful.

“They have a good mindset. Physically we are ready to compete on the big stage,” said Slagle about the PHS state qualifiers.

Slagle pointed out what the swimmers are focusing on in practice this week.

“Getting more rest, working on the finer points [such as turns and starts] and having fun,” he said.

Slagle said the main keys for the swimmers and divers to perform well at state are to have a good, positive outlook, get more rest and to stay healthy.

The head coach’s goals for the Panthers at state are to improve on their sectional performances.

“Taylor is diving better than she ever has before. She wants the state championship,” said Heberlein.

“Previous experience is huge. Taylor knows which of the three diving boards at the Natatorium in Madison are most like her home board.

“The first-year jitters [for Knuth] are long gone. Taylor has very good control of her approaches,” said Heberlein.

“Haley has told me that she wants to finish in the top 10 this coming Friday afternoon. That is very possible.

The diving coach noted what the keys are for his divers to perform well at state.

“Taylor and Haley know they have to relax and try to treat the state meet like a regular practice. And get their take-offs up off the board and then start to execute the dives, and not rush,” he said.

“They will not be learning anything new this week [in practice], just a lot of repetition and trying to do each dive as nearly the same as they can. They have to have confidence in their dives.”

The No. 1 seed in diving is freshman Ginger Lindgard of Madison Edgewood who posted an impressive 450.05 score in her sectional.


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