For Menomonee Falls/Hamilton senior swimming captain Jenny Wesolowski, the bad old days of slow times and low finishes from her freshmen year are just a dim memory, a vague recollection.
Because now, she is the elder stateswomen of a young, talented and exceptionally deep team that simply overpowered the field in taking its first Greater Metro Conference title in five years with an impressive victory at Brookfield Central on Oct. 28.
"I remember that (freshman year)," she said. "We were fifth (in a six-team conference), so just to see it grow like this is amazing. To got out as a conference champs is more than I can ask for. This is just so much fun for me and everyone else on the team. We all get behind the blocks and cheer for one another."
Coach Kelsey Ogle wouldn't have it any other way.
"This meet and every meet was a total team effort," Ogle said. "Every girl on this team scored points; we had 36 swims entered, and we scored points on all 36 swims. These girls were so focused and so motivated all year, it was so exciting to watch everything come together on the day that it mattered the most."
The Indians will try build off that success when they take part in the WIAA D1 sectional hosted by North Shore Conference champion Cedarburg at noon Saturday, Nov. 5. The winner of each event plus all those whose efforts are among the next 18 fastest out of all sectionals across the state will advance to the D1 state meet in Madison on Nov. 12.
Falls/Hamilton had a good team last year but had trouble in state qualifying. Wesolowski is not anticipating that problem this time around, especially led by Indian freshman and GMC swimmer of the meet Cassie Stegner.
As usual, the Indians will rely on their depth to help them at sectional. It was a major factor in their dominating what was supposed to be a close GMC meet as they scored 645 points to roar past league relays champion Brookfield Central (523.5) and Brookfield East (504.5).
They overpowered everyone in the relays, going first and third in the 200-yard medley, two-three in the 200 free relay and two-six in the 400 free relay, scoring 198 points in the three events combined.
"We knew there was a good possibility of the relays doing very well," Wesolowski said, "but all the relays, especially the 'B' teams, stepped up so much and scored just a ton of points."
Stegner also did her part. She chased down 2015 GMC swimmer of the meet Gwen Gustafson of Central by just 0.17 of a second in setting a new league mark of 52.9 seconds in the 100 free after claiming the 200 individual medley in an impressive 2:10.08.
She also helped the 200 free relay team that included Maya Barwick, Wesolowski and Nicole Simson take second (1:42.68) and joined Wesolowski, Rachel Koch and Sarah Scargill on the runner-up 400 free relay (3:44.76).
Ogle has not been surprised by anything Stegner has done this amazing fall.
"This girl is tough; she never backs down from a challenge, and I challenged her today with this lineup of events," Ogle said. "She's a special one."
Other firsts for the Indians included the 200 medley relay team of Becca Schoenauer, Barwick, Koch and Simson (1:54.04), while the "B" team of Moira Shea, Scargill, Maya Kreiter and Olivia Eisenhauer was third (1:57.11).
Seconds went to Wesolowski in the 200 free (2:02.67) and the 500 free (5:34.0); Koch in the 100 butterfly (1:01.27); and Shea in the 100 backstroke (1:01.44), while thirds went to Megan Gundrum in the 200 free (2:05.04); Scargill in the 200 IM (2:17.06) and 100 breaststroke (1:10.4); Schoenauer in the 50 free (25.81) and 100 backstroke (1:02.72); Simson in the 100 free (58.0); Natalie Harms in the 500 free (5:35.79); and the "B" 200 free relay of Mara Chisholm, Eisenhauer, Cassie Kalnins and Dani Rabay (1:47.82).
Fourths were claimed by Kalnins in the 200 free (2:07.46) and 100 free (58.05), Simson in the 50 free (25.97) and Barwick in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.33).
Ogle could not say enough good things about this performance.
"I can and I did go on and on about these girls and this meet," she said. "It was so fun to watch and be a part of. These girls aren't done yet. This was one goal; we have more to accomplish. We have 11 girls moving on to sectionals next weekend. We're hoping to send a solid group to state in Madison in a few weeks as well."
Wesolowski said the Indians are ready for even greater things to happen.
"All week long, coach talked to us about how we could win this but saying that it would be close," Wesolowski said. "Though we lost to East by one (in the dual meet) and beat Central by just a little bit, she said we had the depth and that if the other kids could move up well, we had a chance at winning."