New Berlin's boys swimming and diving team advanced three entries to the WIAA Division 1 state meet, as junior Ian Gatzke and two relays posted qualifying times at the Waukesha South Sectional on Feb. 11.
The co-op took fifth place as a team with 195 points, finishing behind Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial (429.5), Muskego (306), Marquette (297) and Greenfield/Greendale/Pius XI (258.5).
"As a team, we had a great meet at sectionals, which was set up through a great season," New Berlin coach Jim Jensen said. "The swimmers all worked hard throughout the season and that effort day in and day out led to some really amazing swims on Saturday."
Gatzke earned his second consecutive trip to state in the 500-yard freestyle, taking fifth at sectionals in 4 minutes, 53.07 seconds. He took 19th at state in 2016 as a sophomore with a time of 4:57.87.
"Ian Gatzke, one of our captains, has worked hard every practice and has swam tired and sore all season to only start seeing substantial time drops the last three weeks," Jensen said. "It's this kind of perseverance you really need as a swimmer as you swim an entire season focused on one, maybe two meets. Ian has definitely benefitted from the extra rest afforded by taper, dropping 19 seconds in his 500 and earning a ninth seed at state and returning for his second year.
New Berlin also advanced its 200 freestyle (fifth in 1:31.71) and 400 freestyle (fifth in 3:22.82) relays comprised of freshman Kevin Adams, senior Dane Detert, senior Matt Thomas and Gatzke to the state meet.
It is the first time a New Berlin relay team has made state since 2014.
"Our relay team knew going into Saturday that both relays were on the bubble to earn a state berth and they were going to have to collectively have great swims to get both relays to state, and they did," Jensen said. "As a team, they dropped two seconds in the 200 and seven seconds in the 400, which Gatzke anchored in a 48.5, a 3-second drop from his previous best split.
"Getting the relays to state really is awesome for the swimmers who wouldn't have had the opportunity to participate individually at state, yet get an opportunity as key members of both relays."
Detert narrowly missed earning a second straight trip to state in the 100 freestyle. The senior was seeded 46th going into Saturday, but he dropped two seconds off his time, finishing in 49.78. However, that left him 25th in Division 1 and .02 seconds shy of qualifying for state.
The WIAA Division 1 state meet is Saturday, Feb. 18, at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison. The diving competition will begin at 10 a.m. with the timed swimming finals starting at 3:00 p.m.