Diving has been a strong suit for the Eau Claire Memorial swimming and diving team for years.
The Old Abes drove that point home this fall.
The program has sent at least one diver to the state meet’s finals every year since 2003, and this year Memorial will have three girls competing in Madison.
Gretchen Hanson, a sectional champion this year, will be participating in her third state meet. Teammates Emily Herman and Karsten Cowan will be making their first splashes in state competition, although they aren’t new to the state atmosphere.
Memorial brings its underclassmen to the state meet to watch their teammates, so Herman and Cowan have seen what the UW Natatorium has to offer.
“We do it so they can have that experience of seeing what it’s like, and hopefully that helps for the future,” Memorial coach Barb Redman said.
That plan came to fruition for this year’s state competitors for the Old Abes.
Hanson reached the finals last year, placing 14th in Division 1 with a score of 378.25. She won a sectional title last week with a 411.80 score.
Herman was a little over one point behind Hanson at sectionals with a score of 410.40, and Cowan took third at 400.90.
All three of those scores ranked among the top 24 in Division 1, showing off the balance between the three teammates.
“They have really pushed each other throughout the season, back and forth and back and forth. There has been a lot of good, healthy competition,” Redman said.
The Old Abes got to test themselves against some of the other divers they’ll see this weekend during a meet at Ashwaubenon in mid-September. That included seeing Neenah’s two-time defending state champion Av Osero, who has the best state qualifying score at 570.85.
“They were able to compete with the state’s top diver, and they held their own,” Redman said of her divers during that weekend in Ashwaubenon.
Memorial’s streak of getting a diver to the finals goes back 15 years. To reach the finals, the field is trimmed from the preliminary 24 into a smaller field for the semifinals, which in turn set up the 16 spots in the finals.
“They’re pretty gung-ho and ready to go,” Redman said. “They’re excited to keep this tradition going.”
Menomonie, Rice Lake and River Falls send a plethora of competitors to Madison for today’s Division 2 state meet.
Menomonie’s Millie Lausen will compete in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. She was the sectional runner-up in both events last week.
Mustangs sophomore Melody Greenwood will compete in the diving portion of the meet.
Rice Lake will compete in three different relays: the 200-yard medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.
The Warriors will also have individual swimmers competing. Freshman Faith Forsberg will swim in the 50-yard freestyle, while sophomore Grace Forsberg will be in the 100-yard backstroke and senior Katelyn Holmstrom will compete in the 100-yard breaststroke, an event she placed seventh in Division 2 in last year.
River Falls’ Madison Berg was the sectional diving champion last week, and is joined in the diving competition by teammates Madisyn Tape, Isabel Seyffer and Eva Mikla.