Paakh earns runner-up honors in 100-butterfly
Detroit Lakes junior Melissa Paakh couldn't get any closer to being a state champion after finishing second to Hutchinson's Audrey Kumm in the 100-yard butterfly in consecutive years.
Paakh's 56.51 time in the finals of the 100 butterfly during the Class 1A state swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center Saturday was good enough for an automatic All-American honor, but just not quite fast enough to top Kumm's mark of 55.81.
It was a race Paakh has strenuously worked and prepared for all year. after she finished as the state runner-up in 2008, as well.
"I felt like I could have gone faster, so I was disappointed in that," Paakh said. "Audrey is a good swimmer, but I went slower than I did last year (56.03) and that was my goal -- to beat that time."
Paakh had some solid momentum heading into the finals after posting the fastest time in the preliminaries Friday with a 56.47.
The difference in the finals probably wasn't physical -- since Paakh is in elite, prime condition -- but mental.
"I felt good in the prelims, relaxed," Paakh said. "There was no pressure in the prelims, because I just wanted to make finals. I had fun with it.
"But I think I put too much pressure on myself for the finals. I thought I hit my last turn well in the finals and we were about even then. My plan was to just race (Kumm), but I had no idea where she was, but I knew it was going to be close.
"I guess I'm just disappointed in that I put more work into training than normal all year to work up to that goal and I just came up a bit short. It was a good learning experience."
Paakh also landed on the podium in her 100 breaststroke event by finished eighth with a time of 1:08.51.
"From the start of the season, the 100 breaststroke was an experiment, there wasn't much pressure in that one," Paakh said.
Paakh will now compete in the Junior Nationals in the butterfly, which will be held in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 6-13.
Senior Shayna Dugger capped one of the best careers ever had by a DL diver by finishing tied for eighth with a score of 327.40.
Dugger added her third state medal to her collection, after she finished third in 2007 and fifth in 2008.
"My goal Saturday (for the finals) was to make the podium," Dugger said. "And it was close. I feel my career has been a successful one in my six years of diving. I'm happy with how it went."
Dugger had one miscue during Thursday's preliminary diving event, which dug her a little hole. She finished ninth after the prelims with a 234.15.
The DL senior was able to climb to eighth in the finals, which ensured her a medal.
"Everything went well, except one dive, which really upset me, but I was able to shake it off," Dugger added.
Her junior diving teammate, Bre Halbur, just missed out on making the finals by finishing 17th (top 16 advance) with 221.60 points.
Halbur was taking part in her second state meet in as many years competing in diving.
Chole Timm of Sauk Rapids-Rice won the state diving title with a score of 408.30.
For DL's fourth state competitor, junior Libby Larson's 500 freestyle event was another near-miss.
Larson was able to make her goal of swimming the race under 5:37.00, with a 5:29.75.
But she was literally on the outside looking in, finishing just one spot from the finals in 17th place and just .10 from securing a berth to the next round.
"I didn't do quite as well as I wanted to, and narrowly missing (the finals) by .10 in the 500 freestyle is very close," Larson said. "I definitely wasn't as relaxed on a few turns and was a little bit tight.
"It was hard not to make the finals, but I still think I had a good race."
That motivation of .10 of a second will be a plateful of motivation for Larson, though, as she will have one more shot next season.
"I'm going to lift some more weights to get stronger and get into the pool more often," Larson stated. "I'm setting new goals for my time and push myself more."
Sartell-St. Stephen won the Class 1A team title with 236 points, while Monticello was second with a mark of 185, while the Lakers were 19th with 38 points.
Minnesota State High School League Class 1A girls' swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 12-14.
DL results -- Diving: T-8. Shayna Dugger 327.40; 17. Bre Halbur 221.60...100-yard butterfly: 2. Melissa Paakh 56.51...500 freestyle: 17. Libby Larson 5:29.75...100 breaststroke: 8. Paakh 1:08.51.