Kelly Rodriguez photo

Madison Edgewood's Kelly Rodriguez churns to victory in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 12.28 seconds) during a Badger South Conference meet against McFarland this season.

JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Kelly Rodriguez teared up during a Senior Night ceremony midway through Tuesday night’s dual meet between the host Madison Edgewood and McFarland girls swimming teams.

Thinking back to a decision the University of Kentucky commit made as a freshman left the Edgewood senior emotional.

“Coming into the high school season my freshman year, I didn’t know if I would swim for Edgewood or swim for my club team,” Rodriguez said. “It is one of the best decisions I ever made. To swim with these girls and for this team for four years has been a great experience. Senior Night is super emotional. These are the best teammates I could ever have.”

Rodriguez, one of seven seniors on the team, won her two individual events — finishing first in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 56.46 seconds and the 500 freestyle in 5:12.28 – and was part of the Crusaders’ victories in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays.

“She’s been awesome,” Crusaders coach Emily Schwabe said. “She’s a really good leader for the team. She shows her teammates how to put points on the board.”

Edgewood, top-ranked in Division 2 in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association state poll, won seven of the 11 events and edged seventh-ranked McFarland 89-81.

The Crusaders won the final 400 freestyle relay and held off the Spartans. Edgewood finished undefeated as the Badger South Conference dual winner and dealt McFarland its first league dual loss this season.

“It is one of the best rivalries in Division 2 and in the Madison area,” Schwabe said. “We look forward to it every year. We always know McFarland will bring their best and swim at the highest level. They want it as bad as we do.”

The two programs also have demonstrated that intensity at the state level; the Edgewood girls have earned the past two WIAA Division 2 state swimming and diving championships, with McFarland finishing second each time.

“We look forward to this (dual) meet every year,” said McFarland’s Jessica Garvey, in her first season as head coach after three seasons as an assistant. “This is the most competition we see in the dual meets we have all year. Both coaches look forward to it and the girls want to win it.”

Junior Alexandra Moderski led McFarland with individual wins in the 50 freestyle (24.03 seconds) and the 100 freestyle (:52.99) and was part of the Spartans’ opening victory in the 200 medley relay. McFarland senior Emily Hanson won the 100 backstroke in 1:01.45, edging Edgewood junior Kaitlyn Barth.

Barth won the 100 butterfly in :59.13, while Crusaders senior Jenna Silvestri won the 200 individual medley in 2:09.70 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.19.

It was no surprise that friends and state champions Rodriguez and Moderski were among the meet standouts. Rodriguez entered with three of the fastest times in Division 2 this season (in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle) and Moderski was fastest in the 50 freestyle, according to wisca.net.

“She is a great friend and a great swimmer,” Rodriguez said about Moderski. “You are in the zone and swimming for your team, but afterward, I’ll make sure I give her a hug. It’s a friendly competition.”

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.