Tomahawk sports history: Girls’ swimming
By Bob Skubal
Retired coach, historian, author of ‘History of Tomahawk Sports’
1998 was the first year of swimming for girls at Tomahawk High School. From 1998 to present, THS has had only one varsity head coach, Theresa L’Esperance.
“T” has produced four conference duals titles (2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018), five conference tournament titles (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018), and three sectional titles (2014, 2016, and 2017). THS girls’ swimming also has 65 individual and 25 relay teams who have won all-conference honors. Add to that Tomahawk has had 44 individual and 24 relay teams who have qualified for state. 2018 was the highest THS placed at state as a team when they finished third in Division 2.
Let’s start by looking at some of the highlights of the first nine years of the program, as well as special accomplishments over the history of the program. Special mention goes out to the 2018 team that placed third at state.
Members of the first team were Lisa Pickett, Katie Theut, Ellen Jelinek, Deidre Gessler, Amy Luttropp, Renee Raasch, Selina Bisaz, Katie Ley, Brianna Pintens, Emily Ley, Erin Theut, Renee Hess, Melissa Thompson, Nicole Meverden, Amy Zuelsdorf, and Karen Lunt. During that inaugural year, success was met when they tied and later defeated Abby/Colby and Merrill in duals.
In the second year, L’Esperance would have her daughter, Rachel, as assistant and progress was seen in how the team competed.
In 2000, THS would make more improvements as they defeated Lakeland in addition to Abby/Colby. This season also saw Tomahawk with their first state entry of Lindsay Wright in the 100 Breaststroke. Lindsay would place 16th in Division 2 at state.
2001 saw Tomahawk defeat Medford in addition to Abby/Colby and Lakeland in duals. Tomahawk was also learning how to peak at the right time when they sent entries to state in five events. At state, the 200m Medley Relay of Kristin Kuber, Lindsay Wright, Emily Zuelsdorf, and Ashley Swenty placed 9th.The 4 X 100m Relay of Ashley Swenty, Jaclyn Asmondy, Kristin Kuber, and Emily Zuelsdorf would place 14th. Kristin Kuber would place 14th in the 100m Backstroke, and Emily Zuelsdorf would place 14th in the 100m Freestyle and 15th in the 50m Freestyle.
In 2002, Tomahawk would defeat Wausau East and La Crosse Aquinas for the first time. State entries were Kristin Kuber, 13th in the 100 Backstroke; the 400 Freestyle Team of Ashley Swenty, Kristin Kuber, Jaclyn Asmondy, and Emily Zuelsdorf was 14th; and Emily Zuelsdorf was 15th in the 100m Freestyle.
2003 saw Tomahawk once again establish themselves as a competitive program when they placed 14th as a team in Division 2 at state. State entries were the 200 Freestyle Relay of Ashley Swenty, Kim Kuber, Kristin Kuber, and Emily Zuelsdorf placing 2nd; Emily Zuelsdorf 10th in the 100 Freestyle; the 400 Relay Team of Ashley Swenty, Kim Kuber, Kristin Kuber, and Emily Zuelsdorf placing 10th; and the 200 Medley Relay Team of Ashley Swenty Kim Kuber, Kristin Kuber, and Emily Zuelsdorf in 11th.
2004 saw Tomahawk win their own invite for the first time in seven years. THS would continue to be well-represented at state. The 200 Freestyle Relay Team of Ashley Swenty, Kristin Kuber, Megan Frege, and Kim Kuber would place 10th, the 400 Freestyle Relay Team of Ashley Swenty, Kristin Kuber, Megan Ferge, and Kim Kuber would place 15th, and Kristin Kuber would place 16th in the 100 Backstroke. Tomahawk would also have their first four-time state qualifiers with Kristin Kuber and Ashley Swenty.
In 2005, Tomahawk swimming would become an official conference sport with teams from Medford, Lakeland, Ladysmith, Wittenberg-Birnamwood, and Colby/Abby. In their first conference tournament, THS would place fifth as a team. The season would end with the 200 Medley Relay Team of Haley Schoblocher, Elisabeth Vandenberg, Kim Kuber, and Megan Ferge placing 15th at state.
2006 saw THS with their first all-conference athletes of Kim Kuber, First Team in both the 50m and 100m Freestyle, and the 200 Freestyle Relay of Haley Schoblocher, Lizzy Hingendorf, Michelle Nettesheim, and Kim Kuber placing honorable mention.
Another notable moment for girls’ swimming was in 2010, when Marlee Kiander placed 5th in the 100 Breaststroke and became the first female to win a medal at state for THS.
2013 saw Lauren Hilt voted Great Northern Conference Swimmer of the Year. She was also the first female from Tomahawk to place in two individual events in one state meet. Lauren was 4th in the 100 Freestyle and 50 Freestyle.
2017 saw THS ranked #3 in Division 2 by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Coaches Association. Tomahawk would finish the season by placing fourth at state with seven individual state place winners and three state relay place winners.
2018 was Tomahawk’s highest finish at state and worthy at a look back at this season. Theresa L’Esperance was assisted by Paul Heykes and Rachel Tassler. Team members were Allison Schmidt, Megan Marcks, Shelby Benaszeski, Katy Volz, Kaylie Svacina, Viana Johnson, Courtney Cecil, Anna Hawley, Molly Mott, Kylee Theiler, Annie Begotka, Katina Kapulluh, Allison Carstensen, Teagan Wenzel, Abby Jaecks, Alyssa Denney, Karlie Woodall, Dallas Dosch, Allysa Kaplotek, Kersten Zehner, Serena Hanke and Julianna Skubal. Tomahawk won the Colby Pentathlon, finished fifth at the Merrill Relays, won the Marshfield Invitational, placed third at the Ashwaubenon Invite, placed seventh at the Shorewood Invitational, and completed the dual meet portion of the conference without losing a single conference race all season. Tomahawk had a 7-0 record in conference duals, while Rhinelander was runner up at 6-1 when THS defeated the Hodags 106-64 in their dual.
At the conference tournament at Lakeland, THS won their fifth-straight title. Sectionals saw THS place second, 2 ½ points behind Merrill. When state was finished, Tomahawk stood in third place in Division 2. State place winners were the 200 yard Freestyle Relay of Megan Marcks, Shelby Benaszeski, Kaylie Svacina, and Kylee Theiler placing second; Kylee Theiler placing third in both the 200 yard Freestyle and 500 yard Freestyle; the 200 yard Medley Relay of Megan Marcks, Kaylie Svacina, Katy Volz, and Shelby Benaszeski finishing fourth; Kaylie Svacina fifth in the 100 yard Breaststroke and sixth in the 200 yard IM; the 400 yard Freestyle Relay of Megan Marcks, Katy Volz, Shelby Benaszeski, and Kylee Theiler finishing sixth; Katy Volz finishing 10th in the 50 yard Freestyle; and Megan Marcks finishing 11th in the 100 yard Backstroke and 15th in the 100 yd. Freestyle. Seven individual state entries and three relay state entries would tie the 2017 record for THS. We saw back-to-back seasons where Tomahawk would peak at the best time.
As you may note, the THS girls’ swimming program has many more peaks than valleys and continues to be a solid program producing competitive individuals.