The news has been good on two fronts for MICDS girls swim coach Kristen Witzman.
Witzman gave birth to her first child. Bennett Evan Witzman was born Feb. 5. The boy entered at a healthy 9 pounds, 5 ounces.
Then Witzman’s Rams finished second in the Class 1 state meet at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters.
“It was so great to be able to be there for finals of the state meet, after missing conference,” Witzman said. “I was really trying to make it to conference, but the baby had his own plans, as all babies do.”
Assistant coach Chris McCrary led the girls to the championship in the Metro League meet.
Witzman kept in touch.
“Since I wasn’t there for prelims, or the week leading up to state, I was e-mailing the girls as well as communicating with Chris about how things were shaping up,” Witzman said. “I just let them know that I was thinking about them and gave them little reminders about getting ready to swim fast that weekend, as well as my thoughts on how the weekend could play out and what they should be thinking about in order to walk away with the best possible outcome, both individually and as a team.
“I am extremely lucky and grateful that I had Chris to take over in a moments notice, as I have complete trust in him and knew the girls would get exactly what they needed heading into state.”
Witzman believe her Rams would do well in the state meet. She had a talented group at state.
“We have known since the beginning of the season that we’d be in the hunt to win the meet, and definitely in trophy contention,” Witzman said. “Obviously, we knew there were several strong teams and it was going to be a close meet no matter where we came out.
“Chris and I just tried to give the girls the facts, and tell them the things that maybe needed to swing our way in order to walk away with some hardware.”
Witzman was confident in her girls.
“My expectation was, as it always has been, to swim best times and have as many top 16 finishes as we could,” Witzman said. “We also knew that our 200 free and 400 free relays would be hard to catch, and winning relays is always an extremely impressive and fun part of the state meet. “
The Rams won the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay. MICDS set Class 1 records in both events.
The 200 free relay won in 1 minute, 38.68 seconds. The 400 free relay team won in 3:34.68. Freshmen Abby Wickersham, Anna Scott Baur and Sophie Henriksen and senior Alex Fox were on replay teams.
Witzman said the events were fun to watch.
“The free relays were extremely impressive, and both were Class 1 state meet records,” Witzman said. “The four of them, Abby, Sophie, Alex and Anna Scott have worked together and so hard all season, and it definitely showed in those two relays. They have confidence in one another, and had a lot of fun in those two races.”
In individual events, Henriksen came in second in 100 fly in 56.93 seconds. She also was second in 100 back in 56.80.
“Sophie had an incredible freshman year, start to finish,” Witzman said. “She put up two great swims in the fly and back, swimming best times in both. She had an incredible last 25 of the 100 back.
“Both just really impressive swims being her first state meet. She was extremely poised, relaxed, confident, and always smiling.”
Wickersham came in second in 100 free in 52.20 seconds. She recorded a third-place finish in the 50 free in 24 seconds.
“Abby also had a great freshman year in events that are deep for our state,” Witzman said. “She made some tweaks from prelims to finals that paid off on Saturday for her. Abby is always thinking about the little things that can go a long way in the sprint events.
“She told me (after the meet) that she was glad she wasn’t seeded first going into finals because she likes to be the hunter. That pretty much sums up Abby.”
Fox finished fourth in 500 free in 5:19.61.
“Alex swam her first high school season this year, and we were thrilled to have her,” Witzman said. “She was voted a captain, as she is a quiet leader that is an example to everyone in the water. She works so hard, always asking questions and thinking about her stroke or pace work.
“She is a student of the sport, and I was so happy for her that all of her work and attention to detail paid off for her at state. She was relaxed and patient with her races, and swam her own swims.”
Witzman wanted to point out how well Baur performed at state. Baur showed Witzman she can overcome adversity.
“Anna Scott had a great freshman year from start to finish. She had a great swim in prelims in the 200 IM, setting a new Class 1 record, only to be DQ’d after the race,” Witzman said. “She fought hard mentally to bounce back for the rest of prelims, qualifying eighth in the 100 breast and being an instrumental part of our relays.
“As a testament to her mental toughness and character, she held her head up, and came back and finished fifth in the 100 breast. I look forward to watching her come back next year even stronger, but not many freshman could have maintained their composure in order to finish out a great remainder of prelim and set herself up for the best finals she could.”
The Rams finished second with 191 points. Ladue won state with 216 points.
“We were extremely thrilled with our second-place finish as a team,” Witzman said. “That is our highest finish since I have been there (13 years) and only the third time we have gotten a team trophy since I have been there. “
The Rams should be strong next year. Everyone will return except for Fox and Grace Lee, who are both seniors.
“We will miss them terribly, both as swimmers and as people,” Witzman said. “Both were captains and just great examples. We are however, excited about all of the returners we will get back.
“The future of the MICDS program is extremely bright and very exciting. We look forward to seeing what these girls can do working together moving forward. It is an exciting time to be a Ram.”