Kylee Theiler sets new school records, diver Karlie Woodall finishes in top 10 at WIAA State
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
Hatchet diver Karlie Woodall scored a top 10 finish despite having limited access to a board to practice all season long and senior Kylee Theiler set two new school records in the races she competed in at the WIAA Division 2 State Championship held Friday at the UW-Madison Natatorium.
Limited access to practice wasn’t the only hurdle Woodall had to overcome to make it to state for a second time, she also qualified in 2017 and finished in 12th place as a freshman, as her entire sophomore year was lost to a knee injury.
“After sitting out a whole season with a catastrophic knee injury, Karlie (Woodall) began her junior season in June by diving on her own at the outdoor Merrill pool. When the season began, we had two weeks of outdoor pool time for her to practice, then we needed to find a board,” stated Hatchet head coach Theresa L’Esperance in noting Colby and Ladysmith came forward and allowed us to share board time. “Karlie practiced many weeks on a board only one day a week. Heading into the last two weeks of the season, we lost all board time.”
The coach said as a last minute desperation attempt Mosinee was contacted and had a board Woodall could use. She had four practices between Sectional and state for practice.
“She did her best and had an outstanding Sectional meet. Heading into state, she swam in the pool and then had two practices on a board. I hoped it was enough.”
Turns out it was, as Woodall was able to post a 336.80 score to finish in 10th place.
“Our goal all season long was to get to state. We did that. It was an extremely emotional effort. Diving is subjective, not like swimming which is objective,” coach L’Esperance said. “As a freshman, Karlie finished 12th at the state meet. Missing a whole season and rarely getting in good board time, a 10th place finish is a remarkable finish for her junior season.”
Joining Woodall at state, Kylee Theiler finished off a fantastic senior season making a combined 12 podium visits during her fourth appearance at state. She would go on to set two new school records in Madison, breaking her own record in the 200-yard freestyle and setting a new school record in the 100 free in a time of 55.02.
“Many swimmers I have coached will tell me swimming at state with teammates in a relay is the best scenario. The support by teammates helps them to perform their best individually. We did not qualify any relays to state, but that didn’t matter to Kylee,” L’Esperance said. “She was singularly focused on what she needed to practice to do her best. It was not easy, but she had a great night at the Nat in Madison.”
Taking on the Sectional not fully tapered or wearing a performance enhancing suit, the coach said she was more than ready to turn it up a notch in Madtown. Seeded in the fastest heats for both the 200 and 100 free, the coach said she had never witnessed in the past three years an athlete so in control of her emotions.
“She was truly prepared. She set two new school records, breaking her own personal record in the 200 free with a 1:52.98 to finish in 3rd place. She then broke Lauren Hilt’s 100 freestyle record of 52.90 with a time of 52.02 – good for a 5th place podium finish. I know she really wanted a 51, but three one-hundredths of a second is faster than a blink. I was very happy for her. Lauren was a great sprinter and now Kylee holds or shares in five school records.”
After a run of six straight years of dominance, and sending swimmers to state in 15 of the 21 years the Tomahawk girls’ swim team has been in existence, L’Esperance added it takes a lot of support from club swim and the school district to continuously have successful seasons.
“There are many young ladies out in the community who are wanting to swim but do not have the ability too. I am very proud of this year’s team and hope we can continue the success of this fine program,” the coach added.
They might not have sent the numbers of swimmers as they had in past years, but they were once again well represented by Theiler and Woodall at state. And you can bet that if the Hatchet girls’ swim team uses the two as an example, it won’t be long before the team once again will be well represented in numbers at the D2 State Championship.