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Despite winning the 100-yard butterfly championship last season, Grafton swimming standout Sean O'Connor went into the WIAA Division 2 state meet last week seeded only second in the event.

O'Connor took that as an extra challenge and responded in a big way, winning the race for a second time with a personal-best 50.41 seconds in the meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium on Feb. 17.

He beat top seed Eric Storms of Monona Grove, who finished in 50.69.

"For the first 75 yards or so, I was behind him (Storms)," O'Connor said. "In the last 25, I was able to catch up and beat him at the end."

O'Connor said the second championship meant a good deal to him.

"There was a lot of pressure because I was seeded second," the Grafton senior said. "I was more nervous than last year, but I just focused on what I needed to do to win. Before the race, I just did what I always do in preparation."

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Grafton third

O'Connor's butterfly championship was the centerpiece of a fine overall meet for the Black Hawks, who scored 208 points for third place in the team standings, trailing Monona Grove (381) and Ashwaubenon (232), which Grafton had beaten by 1 point in a sectional the previous week.

Grafton coach Mark Minz said the third place is the highest in program history, topping the previous high of fourth.

"I am proud of this entire team and its outstanding achievements this entire season," Minz said.

O'Connor was also happy with the season, especially its big finish, when the Hawks took second in the Small School State Meet to Monona Grove, won their first North Shore Conference championship and claimed a sectional crown.

"This was all amazing," O'Connor said. "I was just proud to be part of a team that worked so hard to meet its goals."

O'Connor also finished second in the 200 freestyle with 1 minute, 40.92 seconds, his best in high school competition and trailing only his 1:40.45 in the Junior Nationals.

He held the second seed and lost to Ben McDade of Monona Grove, the top seed who swam 1:39.67.

"That was tough because it is right after the 200 medley relay (on which he swam)," O'Connor said. "I just lost to McDade, who is a really big swimmer in Wisconsin."

Senior Jake Herlache followed O'Connor in the 200 freestyle with third place at 1:44.77.

Both O'Connor and Herlache also contributed to top-four relays.

They swam with senior Charley Hanney and sophomore Nick Starr to take second in the 400 freestyle with 3:13.37. O'Connor competed with Starr, senior Jack Senczyszyn and senior Adam Schacht for fourth in the 200 medley at 1:37.82, and Herlache was with senior Ja'Quese Teat, Schacht and Senczyszyn for fourth in the 200 freestyle with 1:29.38.

"Our relays were essential to our team finish, and I was pleased with our two fourth places and our second place," Minz said.

Herlache took sixth in the 100 freestyle with 47.95 to round out Grafton's top-six podium finishes.

Starr gets places

Taking eighth were Starr in the 500 freestyle (4:57.03) and Senczyszyn in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.29), and Starr came in ninth in the 200 individual medley (2:01.16).

Senior diver Harry Niswonger was 11th (298.05 points) and freshman Ben Niswonger 14th (273.4).

Schacht took 13th in the 100 freestyle (50.1); Hanney 15th in the 100 backstroke (57.52) and 16th in the 200 IM (2:06.29); and sophomore Gaven Depies 16th in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.45).

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