Lakers complete prelims on quest for Section 8A championship
Swimmers jockeyed for positions in the championship finals during the Section 8A swimming and diving preliminaries in front of a capacity crowd of more than 500 spectators at Grand Rapids Middle School Friday night.
Detroit Lakes and Bemidji are likely to duel to the end of the meet Saturday night vying for the team championship. DL is looking for their first while Bemidji is chasing a seventh consecutive title.
Detroit Lakes enters the finals with five swimmers seeded first after posting prelim victories.
Jennifer Tracy swam 58.87 to set a new section record in the 100-butterfly breaking former Laker Melissa Paakh's 2009 mark of 59.06 and eclipsed the pool record of 59.20 set by Monticello’s Amanda Paulson in 2008.
Evan Westrum swam a time of 1:02.80 to put two Lakers in the top four. Bemidji had only one swimmer in the top eight of the fly in Riley McCarthy placing seventh (1:08.79).
The top eight swimmers advance to the finals, while the next eight places move on to the consolation finals. The team victory is going to come down to who earns the most points not the most wins.
Not that any of the teams would shun a section champion.
Ella Henderson set her sites on a pair winning both sprint races that went down to the touch with Bemidji’s Paige Andersen, who was the runner-up in each race.
Henderson swam 24.83 to Andersen’s 24.89 in the 50 and 54.94 to Andersen’s 54.98 in the 100. Andersen is the defending champion in both races.
Those two individual finishes are indicative of how close the team finals are going to be. It could come down to decimal points and a touch.
DL sophomore Lucy Steinke was solid in the 50 placing third in 25.54 and third in the 100 swimming 56.58.
Syd Gulon had the Lakers fifth victory taking the 500-freestyle in 5:28.47. Gulon set the section record in 2016 with a championship day winning time of 5:17.04.
Gulon placed third (1:11.57) in the breaststroke and will be joined in the finals by eighth-grade teammate Madi Gerdes who placed fifth in 1:13.59.
Tracy’s second victory of the day came in the individual medley by nearly eight seconds. Tracy swam 2:14.08. Fergus Falls’ Ella Childs was the runner-up (2:21.99). Tracy will defend her titles in the IM and fly.
Freshman Kaitlyn Peterson had the second of two strong finishes on the day as the runner-up to Gulon swimming 5:41.14. She also had DL’s top 200-freestyle time of 2:06.52 to finish in third place.
Josie Retz qualified fourth for the backstroke finals in a time of 1:04.28.
Relays have big point totals attached to finishes and the Lakers are seeded first in two of the three races.
DL opened the meet with a first place swim in the medley by Retz, Gulon, Tracy and Henderson (1:53.21). Bemidji’s is seeded sixth at 2:00.23.
The Laker quartet of Steinke, Tracy, Henderson and Gulon wrapped up the preliminary round with a 400-freestyle relay victory in a time of 3:47.54. The Jacks team sits in third place after recording a time of 3:54.53.
Fergus Falls’ top 200-freestyle relay team grabbed the top seed with a time of 1:45.17. DL’s quad of Steinke, Chelsy Johnson, Rachel Bolar and Westrum are seeded second less than a second off the pace at 1:45.70. Bemidji placed fourth (1:45.97).
In eight individual events, Detroit Lakes qualified 13 swimmers in the championship finals; Bemidji sent 19. Both teams will look to steal points head-to-head in all three relays, plus the Lakers will get a big boost from their dive team.
Diving prelims take place Saturday, Nov. 11 beginning at 11 a.m.
Lexi Yliniemi enters as the section scoring leader. Defending section champion Emma Disse is ranked second, followed by Jackson Hegg third and Kennedy Hegg 11th. Bemidji’s top diver is junior Alli Howard ranked sixth in scoring.
The Section 8A swim and dive finals begin at 3 p.m.
Section 8A Swimming and Diving Championships (Preliminaries)
200 Medley Relay
1 DL A (Retz, Gulon, Tracy, Henderson) 1:53.21
1 Abby Yartz BEM 2:01.64
3 Kaitlyn Peterson DL 2:06.52
10 Abbi Smith DL 2:13.44
20 Josie Retz DL 2:18.54
25 Mckenna Ruchti DL 2:25.88
1 Jennifer Tracy DL 2:14.08
16 Addi Young DL 2:37.03
18 Lexi Gerdes DL 2:38.03
19 Maddie Henderson DL 2:38.42
1 Ella Henderson DL 24.83
3 Lucy Steinke DL 25.54
16 Chelsy Johnson 26.93
18 Evan Westrum 27.03
1 Jennifer Tracy DL 58.87*
4 Evan Westrum DL 1:02.80
18 Cora Martin DL 1:14.28
19 Elena Gilbert DL 1:14.57
1 Ella Henderson DL 54.94
3 Lucy Steinke DL 56.58
9 Chelsy Johnson DL 59.15
20 Maddie Henderson DL 1:02.56
1 Syd Gulon DL 5:28.47
2 Kaitlyn Peterson DL 5:41.14
10 Ellie Staley DL 6:01.05
17 Marin Westrum DL 6:17.64
200 Freestyle relay
1 Fergus Falls A 1:45.17
2 DL A (Steinke, Johnson, Bolar, Westrum) 1:45.70
1 Madison Hubert FF 1:01.03
4 Josie Retz DL 1:04.28
16 Elena Gilbert DL 1:11.71
20 Abbi Smith DL 1:12.63
1 Maija Hovelsrud PR 1:10.40
3 Syd Gulon DL 1:11.57
5 Madi Gerdes DL 1:13.59
10 Addi Young DL 1:16.77
14 Ellie Staley DL 1:18.02
400 Freestyle relay
1 DL A (Steinke, Tracy, Henderson, Gulon) 3:47.54