Maria Kircher tries to approach every practice session with the same intensity and focus of a meet. And it’s been paying big dividends in her senior season.
Kircher won the diving competition with a lifetime best score of 253.95 in helping Dubuque Wahlert defeat city rival Hempstead, 132-54, on Tuesday night at San Jose Pool. In the process, she also topped the lifetime best score of her coach, Bob Wren.
“It’s pretty cool to see that my coach is able to get me to go above and beyond what he was able to do when he was diving, because he was a really good diver,” Kircher said of Wren’s 245 career high score. “The big thing is practice. I’m focusing completely like I’m at a meet, and what I’ve been doing in practice has carried over to meets.
“I’m a lot more comfortable on the diving board, and I’m a lot more confident with my dives. This year, I don’t just want to make it back to state. I want to be able to contribute points to our team score.”
Kircher finished 25th at state a year ago.
The Golden Eagles won 11 of the 12 varsity races on Tuesday night en route to the victory and the city dual meet title. They will also be favored on Oct. 22 to win the city meet for the fourth straight time. Wahlert hasn’t won four straight since 1978.
“It’s really nice to have a meet like this in the middle of the season, when you’re feeling a little tired,” said junior Hayley Welbes, who won the 200 freestyle and contributed to the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays. “It’s nice to see some consistency in your times. But it helps when you’re swimming a city rival, because so many of them are your teammates (during the club season) and you get a little more excited to race them.”
Welbes’ older sister, Karlie, captured the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle while contributing to the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay wins. She posted a 56.58 in the 100 free to edge Hayley by .16 seconds.
“It was close, and it meant a lot to me to be right there with her,” Hayley Welbes said. “Karlie sets such high standards for herself, and seeing that really motivates me to work a little harder and go a little faster. It means a lot to me to be able to follow in her footsteps.”
The Eagles also got four wins from senior Alaina Schmidt, who took the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke while contributing to the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. Tori Michel also swam on the medley and 200 free relays before taking the 100 backstroke.
Jamie Schmidt had Wahlert’s other individual win in the 500 freestyle. Zoe Heiar contributed to a pair of relay wins, while, Kenna Wolbers and Avery Schmidt swam on one apiece.
Hempstead’s lone victory came from Samantha Fish in the closest race of the night. She swam a 1:02.71 to edge Michel by .17 seconds in the 100 butterfly.
“I was really surprised by my time,” Fish said. “A lot of it had to be due to swimming at home and competing against girls who are your teammates during the (club) season. The atmosphere is a lot more fun when you’re swimming against people you know so well.
“I train a lot with Tori during the offseason, and I don’t usually win when I do. But it’s exciting and motivating to swim a time like this, especially with regionals and state coming up in a few weeks.”
The Mustangs honored their nine seniors prior to the meet.