It was a championship effort Saturday, Nov. 2 as the Waukee girls swimming team took to Grinnel College and came out with a regional championship.
Due to their efforts, the Warriors now have 13 total individual state qualifiers. It was a show of utter dominance by Waukee that included a new school record. That came from the extremely talented Jessi Wigham who captured the 500 freestyle regional crown with a school record-setting mark of 4:59.71. She was part of an amazing lineup that included over 20 top-five finishes and ended the day with 524 points which bested Cedar Falls with 422 and Cedar Rapids Kennedy with 399.
Wigham was extremely instrumental on the day and captured a second top finish in the 200-yard freestyle event. Out of 21 total swimmers, the freshman topped them all with a time of 1:52.07. That also bested her original state qualifying time of 1:54.44. She picked up two of what would be eight total first-place finishes for the meet. Two more first-place finishes were picked up by veteran Anna Hamling. The first of which came in the 200-yard individual medley where Hamling topped her original state qualifying time with a mark of 2:05.72. Right behind her was freshman standout Mallory Kell who also fell below the qualifying line with a time of 2:10.99 to punch her 200 Yard IM ticket as well. It didn’t take long for Hamling to capture yet another first-place finish, doing so in the 100-yard fly event. Her time of 57.66 seconds defeated the entire 18 swimmer field and officially put the senior into state, just as was the plan.
“We know we can qualify with the girls who haven’t yet,” mentioned head coach Shelley Twigg prior to conference. “These girls like Anna Hamling have proven it before and they’ll do it again.”
That sure happened and then some Saturday and came in full force in the relay events. The Warriors captured all relay crowns beginning with the 200-yard medley relay where they captured one of their season-best times of 1:49.05. That came from the talented group of Eve Wiltse, Camden Habgood, Mallory Kell, and Sophia Hueser. The first place train continued on with the 200-yard free relay event. It was almost a foregone conclusion as both Hamling and Wigham were apart of the group alongside Hueser and Evan Schwickerath. The foursome came together to clock in a state-qualifying time of 1:37.94. Kell, Hamling, and Wigham all joined up with Maddi Kemp to capture victory in the 400-yard free relay, defeating the rest of the eight-team field with a time of 3:33.55. That not only sent the foursome on to state, but it also meant a season-best time.
Other strong finishes included Schwickerath with a season-best time of 1:57.18 in the 200-yard freestyle for second place behind Wigham. Sophia Hueser also had a big day including a fourth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (24.84 seconds) along with her participation in the relay events. Marina Mihura posted her season-best time in the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:09.76 to best all 20 swimmers in the field. Maddi Kemp’s time of 54.12 seconds captured second-place in the 100-yard freestyle while Eve Wiltse found a second-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 59.25.
All told, the individual state qualifiers for Waukee include Anna Hamling, Maddi Kemp, Eve Wiltse, Sophia Hueser, Carly Olney, Maia Bumgardner, Izzy Stevens, Camden Habgood, Alexa Wurth, Marina Mihura, Jessi Wigham, Mallory Kell, and Evan Schwickerath. The state meet will be held in Marshalltown with state diving at 11 a.m. followed by the swimming preliminary meet with warm-ups set for 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.