There were six school records set and three top six medals earned.
It was also the second straight year the Franklin boys swim team finished in the top 10 at the WIAA Division 1 state meet, scoring more points than it did last year.
But no one in the Sabers' swim camp was very happy when they boarded the bus for home from Madison on Saturday, Feb. 18 after the seventh-place team finish.
They were too busy wheezing, gasping, coughing and asking, "Why now?" and "What if?"
"Under the circumstances I think I have to be happy with our swims, but we're just not satisfied with the results," said coach Ross Lennertz.
The Sabers, who went into the state test with hopes of a top three spot or of even challenging for the title, saw three of their top five swimmers enter the meet sick as the proverbial dogs, unable to summon the usual verve and energy needed to succeed at the highest levels.
"James (Kostrzewa) and Justin (Craig) were still running 103 to 104-degree temperatures as of Wednesday (Feb. 15)," said Lennertz. "They were out of practice Monday through Wednesday. They tried to come back, but there wasn't enough time for them to recover and Will (his younger brother Lennertz) had been sick before the sectionals (on Feb. 11).
"I just think about it. If we hadn't been sick, I think we go out there and win the (200) medley relay and maybe even the 200 free (relay). A win by us in the 200 medley relay would have changed the whole complexion of the meet. Still, there were some good swims, and it wasn't because of a lack of effort or focus."
Franklin, which was fifth in last season's state meet, scored 149 points for its spot in the D1 field as Waukesha South/Memorial won with 246, and defending champion Madison Memorial was second with 216.
The Sabers' three state meet medals went to sophomore diver Jared Kleczka (400.5 points). Kleczka was only 16th after the first few rounds of fives but rallied himself onto the podium.
"Jared getting a medal was just a great performance on his part," said Lennertz. "All the divers did a great job."
The Sabers qualified four divers at the meet, and three of them scored points.
Another medal went to the fifth place 200-yard medley relay team of the sophomore Craig, senior Michael Fischer, Will Lennertz and Kostrzewa (1:36.0). The medley effort was a school record.
Fischer then came back and broke his own school record in the 100 breaststroke with a fifth-place effort of 57.97.
Both Fischer and Will Lennertz broke the school record in the 100 butterfly as Fischer was ninth (51.94), and sophomore Will Lennertz 11th (52.06). Senior D.J. Nowacki tied his own school record in the 200 free in taking ninth (1:44.72) and the 400 free relay team of Craig, senior Devin Watson, Will Lennertz and Nowacki closed the meet on a positive note with a 10th place school mark of 3:15.14.
"Mike's (Fischer) breaststroke was awesome," said Coach Lennertz, "while DJ (Nowacki) had some good swims, and the 100 fly efforts were great."
The 200 free team of Kostrzewa, Will Lennertz, Fischer and Nowacki missed out on a state medal by just .21 of a second with a seventh place 1:28.02 time.
Nowacki added eighth in the 500 free. Lukas Migliano took ninth in diving, with Adam St. John in 15th and Mark Davis 17th. Kostrzewa placed 11th in the 100 free and 22nd in the 50 free, Craig 13th in the backstroke and 20th in the 100 free and Watson 24th in the 200 free.
The Sabers, who also repeated as Southeast Conference and WIAA sectional champions, will still have the bones of a very good team next year, though seniors like Kleczka, Watson, Migliano, Davis, Nowacki and Fischer will be very difficult to replace.
"It was frustrating knowing the kind of team we had and just not quite performing as well as we could have," said coach Lennertz. "We're still very proud of what we accomplished this year. It just wasn't what we envisioned."