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Hudson Senior Miles Townsend swims to a second place time of 55.8 seconds in the 100 yard backstroke of last Saturday's WIAA Divison 1 sectional. Hudson Star Observer photo by Bob Burrows.

Swimmers set sights on state

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sports River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

While five members of the Raider boys swimming and diving team will be competing at the state meet in Madison this Saturday, Feb. 22,  in six different events, first-year head coach Ross Campbell said he wants the rest of the team to know how proud he is of them after last Saturday’s sectional runner-up performance.

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The Raiders finished second to perennial state powerhouse Eau Claire Memorial/North Saturday at the 10-team sectional held at the middle school pool. And Campbell said it took the entire team to make it happen.

“I am extremely proud of the team,’ he said. “We have fought through a lot of adversity this season, but instead of folding, they rose to the challenge.”

Memorial/North won the team title with a score of 408 while Hudson was second with 306. Less than 60 points separated the second through fifth place teams with Stevens Point third (276), Superior fourth (256) and Chippewa Falls fifth (249).

“I knew it was going to be a tight race between us, Superior, Stevens Point, and Chippewa Falls,” Campbell said. “I told the kids that we need to swim and dive better than where we’re seeded or we’re not going to get second. And they responded well. Many of them, if not all athletes, earned their best times or scores for the season — which as a coach, was great to see.”

Of course, Campbell and the rest of the Raiders also have high hopes for their state qualifiers — Willie Skinner in the 100 and 200 yard freestyles, Miles Townsend in the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke, August Jorgensen in the 100 freestyle, the team of Jorgensen, Townsend, Sawyer Arndt and Skinner in the 200 freestyle relay, and the team of Jorgensen, Justin Aherns, Arndt and Skinner in the 400 freestyle relay.

“Our 200 freestyle relay is ranked third in the state, which is awesome,” Campbell said. “We also have some individual athletes ranked high that can also drop some more time for next week.”

Jorgensen, Townsend, Arndt and Skinner claimed the sectional title in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1 minute, 28.0 seconds, over 2.5 seconds faster than their seeded time.

Skinner won the 100 freestyle title with a time of 48.51 seconds and took second in the 200 freestyle in 1:47.14 to advance to state in both events. Jorgensen also qualified in the 100 freestyle with a third place time of  49.31 seconds.

Townsend was second in the 50 freestyle in 22.18 seconds and the 100 backstroke in 55.88 seconds to advance while the 400 freestyle relay team of Jorgensen, Aherns, Arndt and Skinner qualified with a third place time of 3:19.1.

The first place finisher in each event automatically advance to state while the rest of the field is determined by the fastest times from the six sectionals held across the state.

Aherns finished third in the 500 freestyle at the Hudson sectional with a time of 5:15.15, nearly eight seconds faster than his seeded time, but came up just short of earning a berth at state.

Townsend, Ross Wusterbarth, Aherns and Arndt combined for a fourth place time of 1:43.71 in the 200 medley relay, and Arndt took fifth in the 200 freestyle in 1:57.35, while Afton Voigt was fifth in diving with a score of 295.5.

Other place winners for the Raiders included Jorgensen in the 50 freestyle with a sixth place time of 22.78 seconds, Aherns in the 200 individual medley with an eighth place time of 2:13.41, Nick Lundberg in the 100 backstroke with an eighth place time of 1:02.6, and Wusterbarth in the 100 breaststroke with an eighth place time of 1:07.91.

The WIAA Division 1 State Swimming and Diving Championships will take place Saturday, Feb. 22, with swimming timed finals beginning at 3 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison.

But we have high hopes for Saturday.

Lastly for us as a program, this is something to build upon.

Read more sports in this week's print edition of the Hudson Star Observer.

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