McKenzie Sanchez is looking to keep a good streak going Saturday at the WIAA Division 1 Girls Swimming and Diving Championships.
Amaya Jerdee and a trio of Burlington Co-op swim team swimmers will be aiming to improve on what has already been a great season.
Sanchez, a Case High School junior, leads the five-member Racine County contingent at the state meet, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with the diving competition. Sanchez will be joined by Jerdee, a first-time state qualifier.
Burlington Co-op’s three representatives are seniors Jenna Hotvedt and Morgan Traughber, and freshman Morgan Dietzel.
Sanchez is hoping to move at least one more notch up the ladder, having finished fifth as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore last year. She qualified for state with a sectional score of 490.25, fourth-best in the state field.
Sanchez has two factors working in her favor — she has passed the 500-point mark twice this season, with her highest score, 508.00 points, coming at the Racine Invitational Oct. 21.
The first time she passed the milestone was Oct. 14 at the West Bend Diving Invitational, where won with a total of 501.30. More significantly, among the divers she beat were defending WIAA Division 1 champion and No. 2 qualifier Av Osero of Neenah, top state qualifier Adriana Avila of Cedarburg and No. 3 qualifier Kelley Kornfeld of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels.
“Since she’s beaten all three, that’s a real confidence booster,” Case diving coach Dave Arvai said. “And it’s her third time there, so she knows what to expect.
“She’s ranked fourth, and I like that position. She doesn’t come in with a target on her back.”
Sanchez, who said she didn’t think she was going to be able to reach 500 points, enjoys the atmosphere at state and knows she can compete with the best.
“My goal is to do the best I can,” Sanchez said. “But anything can happen during a meet. All I can do is do the best I can and whatever happens, happens.”
Jerdee, who came over to diving after running cross country, started diving early in the season and has made rapid progress. Like Sanchez, Jerdee has a gymnastics background and that helped greatly.
“Without a doubt, she has come a long way,” Horlick diving coach Dallas O’Haver said of Jerdee, who scored a lifetime-best 410.95 at the sectional. “It’s been a lot of hard work. She comes to practice every day and you don’t have to tell her what to do.
“Every meet, we tell her to have fun. There’s no pressure.”
Interestlingly, Sanchez and Jerdee competed on the same team at Racine Gymnastics Center when they were in grade school.
Dietzel, who swims for the Waukesha Express club team, was the only county swimmer to win an event at the Greenfield Sectional, and she is the 17th seed in the 100-yard backstroke with a sectional time of 58.93 seconds, a Demons record.
Traughber, who qualified for state on a relay two years ago, is the 21st seed (59.30) in the backstroke and also surpassed the old record of 59.36 set in 2009 by Sara Brooks.
Hotvedt is the 18th seed in the 500 freestyle (5:18.01), about 18 seconds behind the top seeds.
Burlington Co-op coach Denita Jones isn’t expecting any of them to get into medal territory (top six), but she is looking for her girls to keep dropping time.
“I want them to enjoy the atmosphere and not be stressed out about anything,” Jones said. “I just want them to go out, have fun and go for their best times.”