Franklin divers lead state swim effort as Pearson takes sixth
Voge and 200 medley relay also do well
Franklin - The hand was still sore from an injury suffered a few weeks ago, but the focus was still good for Franklin senior diver Melanie Pearson last Saturday, as she earned her second straight WIAA Division 1 state girls swim meet medal with a sixth place in her specialty.
She finished just a fraction ahead of her seventh place teammate Katrina Voge, as the Sabers' successful season came to a fine end.
"(The scores) weren't quite as good as (their 400-plus point scores at the sectional)," said head coach Ross Lennertz, "but we're happy with the performance because the judging at state is always a lot harder. Earning a second medal was great for Mel and it was terrific experience for Katrina."
The pair were joined at state by the all-underclassmen 200-yard medley relay of Bethany Lefeber, Elizabeth Herrick, Jordan Lepkowski, and Rowan Liederbach, which finished 24th.
Lennertz said he made sure that everyone had a good time at the event held in Madison.
"The kids had a great time," Lennertz said. "We left Friday afternoon and got there in time to see a little bit of the D2 meet on Friday night, which got them pretty excited for their meet. We were also able to have a little fun, walking up and down State Street.
"We had a nice dinner, got in early and we got up the next day and were ready to go."
The efforts led to a 25-point effort in the Division 1 field, good for 22nd as Waukesha South/Mukwonago defended its title with 279.
Pearson, who was making her third trip to state, and Voge, in her first, did a good job of moving up the ladder in the 24-person diving competition. Pearson was 12th and Voge 15th after the first set of dives and then they moved up to ninth and 10th, respectively, after the second round.
In the final set of dives they made their big push.
Pearson finished with an 11-dive score of 383.35 points while Voge came in with a 381.75. Neenah's Greysen Hertting won with a 470.65 mark.
The finish for Pearson was remarkable considering that she was still recovering from a hand injury suffered a couple of weeks ago, making it difficult to bend her fingers. She was fifth at state last season but this year her score was 25 points better.
Pearson, a member of the two-time state champion Franklin co-op girls gymnastics team, will head off to Western Illinois University on a Division 1 collegiate diving scholarship next fall. She bounced right into gymnastics practice on Monday.
For Voge, it was the end of a great season that included a Southeast Conference diving championship.
"There was a lot of pressure on both of them, but I thought they handled it pretty well," Lennertz said.
Lennertz said that the relay, which was fully tapered for the previous week's sectional meet in an effort to get to state, competed as well as it could, turning in a time of 1:58.37.
"They looked just a little sluggish in the water," he said. "They seemed a little tired, but it was not a bad race by any means. It was still a pretty good time for them. The goal was to get there, to see what it was like. Now, they want to get back and do better."
The quartet had broken the school record the previous week at sectional with a 1:56.58 effort.
The state meet finished up a sound year for the Sabers as they had a very large turnout of 68 swimmers. Lennertz is encouraged for next year, as most of the top-level swimmers were underclassmen. He still greatly appreciated the efforts from other seniors such as Jessica Christiansen, Erin Pederson and Melinda Clark.
"It was a fun season," Lennertz said.
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