BY ROB LAPLANTE
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ swim and dive team got a good taste of the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center pool water. It’s the same water they hope to be swimming in the weekend of Nov. 15-17, which ironically happens to be the state tournament.
With 13 teams gathered for the annual Maroon and Gold Invite last Saturday, the Knights finished in third place in the Maroon Division with 296 points – 13 points behind first place Woodbury and six behind East Ridge.
“I’m very pleased with our results,” said STMA head coach Tom Guillou. “Our individual times have dropped and we have been hitting the weight room and continue getting stronger.”
It was the first time STMA has participated in the Maroon and Gold Invite. Guillou said the new addition to the schedule is something he was looking forward to.
“We were looking for tougher competition,” Guillou said. “The last few years we have gone to Wisconsin for invites and took first in those. This was a good opportunity to get a taste of where the state tournament is held and match up with some strong teams.”
The Knights gathered a total of three first-place finishes. Junior Kasey Roberts’ time of 2:10.20 in the 200-individual medley placed her first overall out of 44 swimmers. Roberts also finished second overall in the 100-breaststroke. Her time of 1:07.52 was second to only Albert Lea’s Lindsey Horejsi pool record time of 1:03.38.
Roberts also was part of two relay teams that finished first in both the 200 freestyle and 200-medley.
The 200-medley relay tandem of Roberts, Carly Roberts, Taylor Pehrson and Lexi Heil teamed for a time of 1:53.27. The time not only was good for first, but it also set a new STMA school record. The same group also finished first in the freestyle with a time of 1:42.16.
Other notables came in the one-meter dive. Junior Jessie Metz finished third out of 32 divers with a score of 189.50. Senior teammate Krista Erickson finished seventh in the same event with a score of 179.85.
Senior Katie Schmitz finished sixth and set a season-best time in the 500-freestyle (5:32.54). Seventh-grader Kristen Pieper had times drop in both the 100 fly and 100-backstroke. Sophomore Lexi Heil finished strong in both the 50 free and 100-breaststroke.
The third relay team of Schmitz, Julia Pieper, Kristina Swenson and Ellen Swedzinski finished ninth in the 400-freestyle (3:55.30), but Guillou said he was really pleased with the team’s strong finish.
“We finished the meet very well with a lot of great splits in the 400 freestyle relay,” Guillou said. “That is something that I am always looking for and shows that we are getting in good condition.”
The Knights next compete 6 p.m. Thursday night in a dual meet at Monticello (1-1). The Knights, Monticello and Buffalo are one year removed from a three-way tie for the Mississippi 8 title. STMA is currently 2-0 in the five-team conference and will host Buffalo (3-0) next Thursday at 6 p.m.
“The next couple meets will be a couple tough conference matchups,” Guillou said. “Buffalo is probably the favorite, but our goal is to win the conference.”
STMA is also in action at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the St. Thomas Invite.