Rebuilding season put Shawano/Bonduel on road to sectionals

Several set personal bests at conference meet

Photo by Sharon Hanson The Shawano/Bonduel High School girls swim team heads to WIAA Division 1 sectionals on Saturday. The sectionals team includes, from left, Rebeca Lewandowski, Ashauntee Smith, Emily Thornock, Brittney Angeli, Nicole Thornock, Lydia Colon, Isabel Colon, Macy Monfils, Elizabeth Dillenburg, Madi Hanson, Lily Herrmann, Hannah Wendorff and Peyton Hrabik.

The Shawano/Bonduel High School girls swim team heads to WIAA Division 1 sectionals on Saturday following a rebuilding season filled with personal bests.

“It’s amazing to see how much time everybody has dropped,” coach Sharon Hanson said. “Oftentimes, you see it in new swimmers, but all of the kids are dropping significant time. Between our final two meets, we had swimmers still shaving off 10 seconds. I kind of expected it with a newer team, but they exceeded my expectations by far.”

The team is losing seven senior varsity swimmers next year, so Hanson used this season to establish her younger team members.

“I wanted to get them acclimated to the pool and have them try out as many different races as they can so we can really find out where they excel most,” Hanson said. “I like to give them the chance to try out different lengths and styles of races in each meet because we want to find the mix between what they enjoy doing and what I, as a coach, see them performing the best in.”

The team finished its regular season at the Bay Conference Championship on Oct. 26 and placed fifth out of seven teams, though several swimmers set personal bests.

“Conference was a little rough because so many of our swimmers, and several top swimmers, got sick,” Hanson said, “and there were a lot of technical difficulties so the meet lasted five hours, but our girls were still dropping times, so even though our overall results weren’t the best, the individual results were great.”

Hanson expects similar results at the sectional meet in Neenah as the team will be competing against large schools in Division 1.

“Neenah sectional is one of the toughest. A lot of state champions come out of the Neenah sectional.” she said. “Our girls will go there and perform their best, but collectively other big schools will place higher. To me, the girls will do amazing, and they’ll be proud no matter what. But it’s really hard to compete with those bigger schools.

“I would love to see them hit top 16, because then their names will be announced, and that would be special, and I think they absolutely have it in them to do it.”

The swimmers are focusing on personal goals, not team placement.

“This is my last year at sectionals so my aim is to hit a PR in the 50 freestyle,” senior Peyton Hraeik said. “It’s my last shot and I know I can do it.”

“I really want to break my 100 freestyle record that I set last week,” freshman Macy Monfils said. “I surprised myself this year with how well I did on varsity as a freshman and battling an injury, so I want to finish the season strong.”

Beyond statistics, Hanson is most proud of the teamwork between her swimmers this year.

“I’ve been so impressed this season with how this team supports each other,” she said. “They’re making lasting memories and connections and at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important. They learn that from the upperclassmen and then keep passing it down, so it’s really become a special part of the team.”

As the season wraps up, swimmers new and old reflect on the season.

“Getting my personal best in the 500 freestyle in the beginning of the season,” senior Lydia Colon said. “I’m really happy I was able to achieve it so early.”

“When we did a 300 backstroke relay, I got my PR in the 100 backstroke and we placed second, so we got a medal, which was my first,” senior Nicole Thornock said.

“Going to Sharon’s house for team bonding breakfast in the beginning of the season,” sophomore Ashauntee Smith said.

“Being on the bus and getting hyped right before a swim meet,” freshman Isabel Colon said. “Just getting in the zone.”

“Definitely the team aspect and whenever we get together and do cheers and stuff,” sophomore Elizabeth Dillenburg said. “It makes it really fun.”

The sectional team includes Smith, Hraeik, Dillenburg, Monfils, Lydia Colon, Isabel Colon, Emily Thornock, Nicole Thornock, sophomore Rebeca Lewandowski, senior Brittney Angeli, junior Madi Hanson, junior Lily Herrmann and senior Hannah Wendorff.