After a ninth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay Saturday, Feb. 9, at the WIAA Division 1 Middleton sectional, the Oregon boys swimming team had to play the waiting game.

Seniors Collin Braatz and Sam Rohloff, junior Blake Anderson and freshman David Stevenson swam a season-best time of 1 minute, 34.33 seconds but were less than three seconds from the state qualifying standard. The final state qualifying spot went to Holmen (1:31.80).

“We had our fingers crossed,” coach Justin Sawran said. “The goal at this point in the season is to have everyone swim the best they ever have. We moved up to D1 and the standards are a lot higher.”

Sawran said the Panthers had season-best times in each individual event and each relay.

“There are a couple guys who maybe had higher hopes, but they still swam a best time,” Sawran said. “I told them that’s all you can ask for at this time.”

The same quartet that swam the 200 free relay finished ninth in the 200 medley relay (1:45.82). It was about four seconds away from the state qualifying standard. The final state berth went to Waukesha West/Mukwonago (1:41.65).

Oregon finished 10th in the 13-team sectional with 60 points. Defending state champion Madison West, ranked No. 1 in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association state poll, clipped third-ranked Middleton for the sectional team title 384-383.5. Verona Area/Mount Horeb took third (301).

Stevenson placed 14th in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.5) and 15th in the 200 individual medley (2:09.93). Braatz finished 14th in the 50 free (23.23) and 15th in the 100 free (51.24). Rohloff added a 17th-place finish in the 50 free (24.32).

Anderson finished 15th in the 100 butterfly (58.01) and 15th in the 100 backstroke (1:01.33).

“He finally broke 1 minute in his 100 fly, which was a goal of ours,” Sawran said. “That’s a lot better than we were expecting.”

Blake Pankratz took 19th in the 500 free (5:23.56) and placed 24th in the 200 free (2:01.08). Junior Nathan Sorenson placed 22nd in the 500 free (5:47.94) and 26th in the 200 free (2:11.30).

“Blake and Nathan dropped way more time than we expected,” Sawran said. “They each dropped six seconds in the 200 free. Nathan dropped 20 seconds from last week and Blake dropped 17 seconds from last week in the 500 free.”