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Ben McDade photo

Monona Grove's Ben McDade reacts to his state record-setting finish in the 500-yard freestyle event of the Division 2 state meet at the UW Natatorium in February.

There were plenty of reasons to name Monona Grove junior Ben McDade.

And no good reasons not to.

Succeeding at every turn for yet another season, McDade has been named the Wisconsin State Journal/ All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year for the 2016-2017 season.

McDade was the star of a talent-packed WIAA Division 2 state meet on Feb. 17 — even when the timing of the meet didn’t mesh well with his own schedule.

He opened the meet by taking part in a 200-yard medley relay that finished one one-hundredth of a second short of tying the Division 2 state-meet record, finishing in 1 minute, 33.82 seconds — the best time in the state this year, regardless of division.

In the very next race, the 200 freestyle, he earned his third consecutive state title in the event with a time of 1:39.67, the second-best in the state all year.

Then came his “wow” event, the 500 freestyle. McDade not only broke his own Division 2 state-meet record and won the event for the third consecutive year, his time of 4:28.83 was the fastest recorded by a high school swimmer in state history.

He wrapped up his big night by anchoring the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:08.00), which turned in the second-fastest time in the state and came 0.16 seconds short of the Division 2 state-meet record.

Monona Grove won two other events without McDade and dominated the field, scoring 381 points — the second-highest team total in Division 2 history — to win a third consecutive state title.

McDade already has been dealing with a deluge of interest from college recruiters. His father, Phil McDade, said Ben has received correspondence from 30 to 40 schools, including:

• Several in the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State).

• All three Division I service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force).

• Several in the Southeastern Conference (Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Missouri).

• Some in the Atlantic Coast Conference (Georgia Tech, Florida State, among others).

• Some top programs from the West (Nevada-Las Vegas, Utah, Hawaii and Arizona).

• Top-tier Division III programs (Kenyon, Johns Hopkins).

• And five Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Phil McDade said Ben has taken unofficial visits to Northwestern, Notre Dame and Iowa, and is planning a spring trip to the Ivy League schools.

“The school/academic side of this is as (or more) important to him than the swimming side of it,” Phil McDade said.

Coach of the year

It’s one thing to take a talent-packed lineup and roll the dice. It’s another to motivate, organize and push those standout swimmers to reach for new heights. That’s what Kelly Chadesh did to steer Monona Grove to a fourth in the past five years, and that’s why she is the Coach of the Year.

Chadesh’s Silver Eagles won six of the 12 events at the state meet. And of the seven swimmers who earned individual or relay titles for MG at state, four are juniors and are expected back next year.

Also considered for the award were Paul Eckerle of Madison Memorial, Bill Weaver of Madison West and Todd Wuerger of Sauk Prairie.

• All-Area team in Scoreboard.



Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.