Head coach Carol Fischer was pumped about the performance of her swimming and diving team at the Section 8A championships in Grand Rapids over the weekend.

“The Lakers were OUTSTANDING at sections!” she relayed in a post-meet email. “We had some incredible swimming and diving.”

Detroit Lakes will be represented by seven swimmers and one diver in ten events at the State Class A meet later this week.

DL sends two individuals to state holding three section titles: Jennifer Tracy in the 200-individual medley and the 100-butterfly and Madi Gerdes in the 100-breaststroke.

Tracy broke section and pool records in her fly win. One of those marks is something new.

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Her butterfly record time was 58.49. The former pool record of 59.20 was held by Amanda Paulson of Monticello and had stood since 2008. Paulson was a state 50-free champion, member of the Magic’s state True Team winning team and a four-year standout at Iowa State - a four-year Most Valuable Swimmer for the Cyclones and a holder of more than 100 career wins.

That’s a big mark to take down.

Tracy already owned the section record having set it during her freshman season in 2017 (58.82).

“Jen makes it look so easy that most people don't realize what an incredible swimmer she is,” said Fischer.

Tracy and senior Lucy Steinke were voted swimmers of the Year in Section 8A by the 10 section coaches.

Steinke had her best meet ever.

“By earning a bronze in the 50-free and swimming out of her mind in the 100 backstroke - a new event for her this year - taking second place and punching a ticket to state,” said Fischer.

Madi Gerdes took a powerful, yet ethereal route to her section championship, according to Fischer.

“Madi's swim was sublime in the 100 breaststroke,” Fischer said. “She's fun to watch because she knows exactly when to turn up the pace to full-throttle and just burns it into the finish.”

Gerdes won in a time of 1:09.63, besting Grand Rapids’ Hannah Rauzi (1:10.21), but more impressively beating three of her own teammates as the Lakers owned half of the finals field in the breaststroke.

Evan Westrum was 0.23 seconds off of sending two Lakers to state in the event placing third, followed by Lexi Gerdes in fourth place (1:10.96) and Ellie Staley in seventh (1:15.07).

Rauzi’s finish was important to Grand Rapids in the team standings as her 17 points for second place had to fend off a combined 63 points from DL’s quartet. The Laker domination pulled DL to within 16 points of the Thunderhawks heading to the final relay. Grand Rapids and DL finished one-two in the 400-free.

The Lakers scored 419 total points to grab a runner-up team finish behind the host Thunderhawks. Grand Rapids scored 439 points to complete a sweep of the True Team section title and the Section 8A Girls Championship.

This section has been tightly contested. Bemidji defeated DL by only nine points for first place in 2017; the Lakers returned the favor in 2018 winning by 37.

The bronze team finish of 2019 was up for grabs between Bemidji and Park Rapids battling to the last race with the Lumberjacks grabbing bronze by one point over the Panthers 292-291.

The top two finishers in all swim races and top four divers advance to state.

The list of Laker state qualifiers is big:

  • The 200 medley relay (Lucy Steinke, Madi Gerdes, Jen Tracy and Evan Westrum);

The team is one of the best the Lakers have ever had. The foursome qualified (1:52.98) for state not only by place, but also by time standard (1:53.49).

“Which doesn't always happen but sets them up for good racing,” said Fischer. “They are close to breaking the school record and that is a goal for state.”

  • Kaitlyn Peterson a two-race runner-up in the 200 and 500-freestyle;

“Kaitlyn posted two of her best times with a couple of the best races of the meet,” Fischer said.

Jackson Hegg led Detroit Lakes divers with a third place finish and a second consecutive state berth at Saturday's final day of competition at the Section 8A championships. Robert Williams / Tribune
Jackson Hegg led Detroit Lakes divers with a third place finish and a second consecutive state berth at Saturday's final day of competition at the Section 8A championships. Robert Williams / Tribune

  • Jackson Hegg with a bronze finish in one-meter diving;

“Jackson turned in an outstanding 11-dive performance earning her way to state,” said Fischer.

Hegg placed 18th at state last season and 21st as an eighth-grader in 2015.

  • Evan Westrum, second in the 100-butterfly;

  • 200-free relay team (Westrum, Steinke, Chelsy Johnson and Peterson);

  • Steinke, runner-up in the 100-backstroke;

  • The 400-freestyle relay (3:44.11 - Tracy, Johnson, F. Hamm, Peterson)

Westrum, Steinke, Johnson and Peterson continue to shatter their own school record. New time: 1:41.50.

“The 400-free team swam a super race and will need to do that again at State to make it into finals,” Fischer said.

Other scoring finishes (top 16) came from Faith Hamm 3rd in the 200-free and 4th in the 500; Chelsy Johnson 6th in the 200-free and 3rd in the 100; Madi Gerdes 11th and Rylie Wendt 16th in the 200-IM; Lucy Steinke 3rd in the 50-free; Jessica Bolar 13th in the 50-free; Lexi Gerdes 6th in the 100-fly and 4th in the 100-breaststroke; Marin Westrum 10th in the 100-free and 12th in the 100-Back; Ellie Staley 11th in the 500-free and 7th in the 100-breaststroke.

Fergus Falls’ Joyce Monk was named section coach of the year.

The State meet will be held Nov. 14-16 at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.



Section 8A Girls Swimming and Diving Championships, Grand Rapids, Nov. 8-9

Grand Rapids 439, Detroit Lakes 419, Bemidji 292, Park Rapids Area 291, Fergus Falls 206, Thief River Falls 123, Perham/NY Mills/Henning 113, Warroad/Roseau/GB-MR 81, Crookston 58.

(Top 2 swimmers, relays, top four divers advance to state)

200 Medley relay

1 Grand Rapids 1:52.53

2 Detroit Lakes 1:52.98 (Steinke, M. Gerdes, Tracy, E. Westrum)

200 Freestyle

1 Elsa Viren GR 1:59.12

2 Kaitlyn Peterson DL 1:59.15

3 Faith Hamm DL 2:03.41

6 Chelsy Johnson DL 2:06.71

200 Individual Medley

1 Jennifer Tracy, DL 2:12.88

2 Emilie Carlson FF 2:17.61

11 Madi Gerdes DL 2:30.04

16 Rylie Wendt DL 2:38.76

50 Freestyle

1 Ellie Ulvini PR 24.76

2 Annika Dalager TRF 25.01

3 Lucy Steinke DL 25.40

13 Jessica Bolar DL 27.31

1m Diving (Top 4 advance)

1 Dena Fischer PER 416.50

2 Addie Albrecht GR 390.50

3 Jackson Hegg DL 386.95

4 Mady Schmidt BEM 377.60

11 Kylie Tulius DL 275.70

13 Ava Morrison DL 267.86

15 Kaitlyn Anderson DL 241.40

100 Butterfly

1 Jennifer Tracy DL 58.49

2 Evan Westrum DL 59.99

6 Lexi Gerdes DL 1:03.10

100 Freestyle

1 Ellie Ulvin PR 55.15

2 Emma Vrieze PR 56.14

3 Chelsy Johnson DL 57.08

10 Marin Westrum DL 1:00.17

500 Freestyle

1 Elsa Viren GR 5:25.30

2 Kaitlyn Peterson DL 5:25.90

4 Faith Hamm DL 5:37.99

11 Ellie Staley DL 5:55.61

200 Freestyle relay

1 Grand Rapids 1:41.24

2 Detroit Lakes 1:41.50 (E. Westrum, Steinke, Johnson, Peterson)

100 Backstroke

1 Alyssa Jackson GR 1:01.62

2 Lucy Steinke DL 1:02.24

12 Marin Westrum DL 1:09.99

100 Breaststroke

1 Madi Gerdes DL 1:09.63

2 Hannah Rauzi GR 1:10.21

3 Evan Westrum DL 1:10.44

4 Lexi Gerdes DL 1:10.96

7 Ellie Staley DL 1:15.07

400 Freestyle relay

1 Grand Rapids 3:42.68

2 Detroit Lakes 3:44.11 (Tracy, Johnson, F. Hamm, Peterson)