Ready for state
There will not be any complacency from the five Detroit Lakes girls' swimming and diving state qualifiers when the Class 1A meet starts Thursday inside the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
Sophomore Melissa Paakh and junior Shayna Dugger each made some noise down in the state meet last year with top three finishes -- and both are back for another crack at it.
Paakh finished as state runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 57.16, as Breck senior Sammi Husband took top honors with a 56.86.
In diving, Dugger made good on her second state appearance, finishing third in the state with a score of 330.50.
But that's not the entire state contingent for the Lakers, who will be bringing repeat state qualifier sophomore Libby Larson in the 500 freestyle and first-time state entrants, sophomores Bre Halbur and Taryn Kobriger.
With all those potential points, there is a team-unity goal among the state qualifiers from DL.
"We want to see 'Detroit Lakes' up on the board," Larson said of the team scores which are posted on the big scoreboard inside the U of M Aquatics Center.
Each took their own path to the state meet, but they are meeting at the same destination.
For Paakh, finishing just shy of DL's first-ever girls' state swimming championship has fed her plenty of motivation to work through the entire year.
Although expectations are high for the state meet, Paakh just wants to know she did everything possible to achieve her best.
"Even if I don't win (a state championship), I just want know that I couldn't have done more," Paakh said. "I just want to know that I did everything I could."
From workouts in the morning before school to endless laps in the pool, Paakh is more than prepared to leave everything in the state waters.
She has been a repeat state qualifier and has experienced all the pressures of competing in the big meets.
"In some of the big club meets, I was the bullseye," Paakh said. "That kind of motivates me. But I just really want to feel like I did everything I could do."
Paakh enters the 100 butterfly as the No. 2 seed with a section time of 59.26, behind Hutchinson sophomore Audrey Kumm, who has a section mark of 58.20.
Paakh also will be competing in the 200 individual medley after taking second in the section with a 2:17.09.
"Melissa wants to do very well at state and she has her goals," said DL head coach Carol McCarthy. "She sets her goals and tries her best to reach them. When she focuses on them, she gets them."
Dugger also has some lofty expectations, which are obviously realistic after finishing third in 2007.
"I want to place higher than I did last year," Dugger said.
Diving head coach Bobbi Jo Koons said Dugger has added several new dives to her routine and more importantly, has added height to her dives.
"She has better positioning than last year, but diving is a judged event and it's so subjective," Koons said. "So you never know what's going to happen. The best thing Shayna does is focus, though, and I believe she'll do well."
Dugger's state experience will also be a benefit.
"It helps to know the facility and experience the atmosphere," Dugger said.
First-time experiences will be exactly what both Kobriger and Halbur will have with their first state meet slated.
Kobriger was just one point shy of qualifying last year, which set her goal of qualifying this season.
"Obviously, it was tough last year because I was seeded higher than where I finished," Kobriger said. "I am trying new dives and cleaning up my other ones."
"She's a fearless diver," Koons said of Kobriger, who is a four-year diver.
Since it's her first time in state and since she's just a sophomore, Kobriger will use it as a learning experience.
"I don't have any expectations, but I would like to make past the final cut (top 16)," Kobriger said.
Halbur's expectations heading into the season were non-existent, since it was the first year she was out for the sport.
As a two-time state qualifier in both gymnastics -- where she took second in state on vault in 2007 -- and in track, Halbur becomes DL's first-ever girl athlete to make it to state in three different sports.
She entered the season as an accomplished gymnast and it was something she used in her fast climb up the ladder.
"I thought it was going to be a lot like gymnastics, but it was a bit different, so I started out pretty slow," Halbur said. "But I started to pick up things quickly, like body control. And Taryn and Shayna helped out a lot."
Just being as athletic as Halbur is gave her a big boost, as well.
"She is very good at twisting and that's unusual for a beginner," Koons said. "And she has no fear of going higher to go along with her athletic abilities."
In the marathon of races, Larson has excelled in the 500 freestyle for the last three to four years.
She finished 16th in last year's state meet and her goal of getting under the 5:30 mark is very close, after finishing with a section-winning 5:32.96.
State experience will also go a long way for Larson.
"The first year I was down there I was so overwhelmed," Larson said. "Last year it was better and I was pretty used to (swimming in state)."
McCarthy is confident Larson will have a better showing.
"I believe she will have a good race, because she is stronger emotionally and mentally," the DL coach said. "She knows her goal and she has experience at the state now.
"Both Melissa and Libby have grown a lot."
With three divers and two swimmers partaking in the Class 1A state meet, the Lakers are not just satisfied making it that far.
Now they are ready to make some noise on the state's grandest swimming and diving stage.