Rodawig breaks meet record; Central takes team title

Rodawig breaks meet record; Central takes team title

CHAMPAIGN — When you're part of a Centennial girls' swimming and diving program that has produced such luminaries as Marni Tobin and Payton Johnson, it can be intimidating to think big.

After all, if you want your name placed in the same sentence as those folks, there is much work to do. And even the hardest worker doesn't always reach that level.

But Audrey Rodawig is trying. That much, she promises. The junior furthered her quest to be considered one of the all-time Centennial greats when she won two events at Tuesday's Twin City meet, setting a meet record in the 100-yard butterfly.

"From Day 1," Rodawig recalled, "I looked at the record board and I said, 'I want to get my name up on the 100 fly or at least on some event.' I'm pushing as hard as I can. My goal is to break either the pool or the school record. I just want my name up there and join those amazing swimmers. They are so fast, and I'd be honored to have my name up there along with them."

Rodawig's time Tuesday of 59.11 seconds eclipsed Tatum Stewart's 2005 meet record and kept her on pace for a shot at Johnson's marks. Rodawig has clocked as fast as 57.27 this season, and once she tapers for the big postseason meets, she figures as a good bet to eclipse that mark, which would put her in range of some distinguished Centennial records.

"So far, I'm right on track for what my goals were," Rodawig said. "I wanted to be around a 56 before sectionals, and I've been there. Today I did not swim that time, but so far in the middle of the season I've been around there. And my goal is to get a 54 at sectionals or state. This year my times have improved, and I'm really excited. I'm training as hard as I possibly can each day, putting in the effort ... I'm ready to get up there. I've got the energy, I've been in the zone and I'm ready to go."

Rodawig's unbridled enthusiasm and zest for the sport match Johnson's, the three-time state butterfly champ who went on to swim at Michigan.

Rodawig said she's never met the former Wolverine, but she's heard all about her, courtesy of the loquacious Don Waybright.

"I have heard much about her," Rodawig said. "(Waybright) has always said, 'Audrey, are you going to try to get your name up there?' And I've always said yep. He's always getting on me about that."

Newman leads Maroons. Hannah Newman captured the 100 freestyle and the 200 individual medley to lead Champaign Central to the team title. Newman posted her personal-best time of 53.39 in the 100 free.

"I never expected that," she said. "It's a nice surprise."

Her participation in the medley was something of a surprise, too, given that it isn't a typical event for her. But with Newman's versatility, it's something she might have to do again in the Big 12 Conference meet or the sectional as the Maroons seek team glory.

"It's nice to swim different events and see how fast you can go," she said.

Three stars
A trio of standouts from Tuesday’s Twin City meet at Unit 4 Pool:
KATHERINE PENWELL, Central: She cruised to a victory in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 28.65 seconds) and took second in the 200 free behind Centennial standout Audrey Rodawig. And she swam on two winning relays.
CLAIRE MICHAEL, Urbana Uni: She emerged victorious in the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.22 then turned right around moments later and swam a leg on the Illineks’ first-place 400 free relay.
KIRSTEN SLAUGHTER, Urbana (above): She won the 50 free in 25.20, an encouraging sign for the bigger meets coming up. The state-qualifying cut is 24.84, and Slaughter has gone as quickly as 25.11 this season.