Monona Grove senior Ben McDade was eager to see how the WIAA Division 2 state boys swimming and diving meet would unfold and his stellar prep career would wrap up.
The answer? Very well, indeed.
McDade won the 200-yard freestyle and 500 freestyle Friday night at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium, becoming a four-time champion in each event.
He also anchored the Silver Eagles’ victorious 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. The four titles boosted his career total to 15, surpassing McFarland’s Ryan O’Donnell’s previous mark of 14, and giving McDade the most championships in state boys swimming history.
“It means a lot,” said McDade, who, according to the WIAA, became the first individual to win three events four times (the 200 and 500 freestyle races and the 400 freestyle relay). “I put in a lot of hard work over the past four years. It validated all that hard work, all those early mornings and all those practices when you wanted to go home.”
McDade said he hoped to swim faster, but the meet’s most significant aspect for him was this: The top-ranked Silver Eagles totaled 333 points and earned their fourth consecutive Division 2 team title and fifth overall. Second-ranked Madison Edgewood, led by diving champion Ben Stitgen and 100 freestyle winner Truman teDuits, was the runner-up with 191 points.
“It’s been crazy to have a great team surrounding me,” McDade said. “It’s not just been me. It’s been plenty of guys of all ages for the past four years. … It’s been a team effort the whole time.”
All in all, it was a good night’s work for McDade, senior Eric Storms, who won the 100 backstroke for the third time, and the Silver Eagles, who also won the 200 medley relay.
“Honestly, it’s unreal,” Storms said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. Winning four state team titles is something that doesn’t happen often. I’m proud to be part of it.”
They were among the meet’s standouts, along with Sturgeon Bay co-op senior Max McHugh, who set a national record in winning the 100 breaststroke in 51.62 seconds and established a new state record in winning the 50 freestyle (:20.34). Ben Hayes, a senior from Brown Deer/University School of Milwaukee, won the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.
The Monona Grove team of Storms, junior Josh Douberly, senior Bronz Geissler and senior Shane Sackett earned the team’s first victory, claiming the 200 medley relay in 1:34.85. Edgewood placed second (1:37.95), ahead of top-seeded Sturgeon Bay (1:38.46).
McDade followed with a comfortable victory in the 200 freestyle (1:40.32) and later cruised to the 500 freestyle title (4:32.54). Edgewood sophomore Nate Frucht finished fourth in the 500.
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In the next event, Sackett, Geissler, senior Jacob Lippiatt and McDade earned first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:26.53). Storms then defended his 100 backstroke crown (:50.18), with Baraboo sophomore Aidan Lohr third and DeForest sophomore Ben Ramminger fourth.
Edgewood freshman Stitgen opened the meet by winning the diving title. Stitgen, who entered the meet with the top score from sectionals, finished with 401.95 points. Cedarburg junior Garrett Gonwa was second (389.50).
Stitgen said he didn’t anticipate winning the title in his first state appearance. He said he felt less nervous as the meet progressed.
“I felt a little shaky, but as I got going it sunk in a little bit,” he said.
Crusaders sophomore teDuits won the 100 freestyle in :46.96. Sackett was third (:48.42) and Fort Atkinson junior Jeremiah Mansavage placed fourth (:48.45).
“I knew I had a chance, but I knew it was going to be hard,” teDuits said. “I knew I had a lot of competition. It means a lot. Just winning is amazing. I’m really happy with my time, too.”
He also earned a runner-up finish in the 200 individual medley. Hayes won in 1:50.28, ahead of teDuits (1:52.50) and third-place Lohr (1:56.74). Hayes finished strong and won the 100 butterfly (:49.62), just ahead of Storms (:49.65).
McHugh’s 50 freestyle (:20.34) broke the previous state record of :20.59, held by Brookfield East’s Tom Wanezek since 1995. Sackett placed second (:21.67).
McHugh’s 100 breaststroke time of :51.62 crushed the state record of :56.43 and topped the national mark of :52.65. Whitewater freshman Young Liang was third and Douberly placed fourth.
The Silver Eagles then capped their championship performance with Storms, Douberly, Lippiatt and McDade winning the 400 freestyle relay (3:09.80). Edgewood placed fourth.
“We had a lot of experience, with these seniors,” Monona Grove coach Kelly Chadesh said. “That experience helped us a lot tonight.”