BY ROB LAPLANTE
The girls St. Michael-Albertville and Buffalo Bison swim/dive team’s have a score to settle.
With one meet left in the regular season for both teams, the Mississippi 8 Conference champions will be crowned Thursday night at Middle School East Pool.
Both the Bison and the Knights are 3-0 heading into the showdown. Buffalo, STMA and Monticello shared a three-way tie for the conference title a year ago. The winner Thursday will win the M-8 outright.
“We’re fired up for this one,” said STMA head coach Tom Guillou. “Buffalo is the favorite, but everything comes down to this meet and the competition should bring out the best in the girls.”
Last season, the Bison edged the Knights in both the regular season and the True Team Meet. STMA got the final say, ending Buffalo’s season in the Section 8AA playoffs.
Both the Knights and Bison have deep lineups and both have all-state caliber athletes. STMA junior Kasey Roberts has had a record-setting season, as has Buffalo senior Emily DeVore.
“The two could matchup head-to-head in a relay event,” Guillou said. “Both are top swimmers in the state. We are hoping for a good crowd and we are all really excited for this one.”
The Knights spoiled Monticello’s bid at another share of the title, when they defeated the Magic last Thursday 98-86.
STMA had first-place finishes in eight of 14 events. Guillou said he was happy with how the team competed.
“Monticello was a good meet,” Guillou said. “We swam tough. I was happy with how we went on the road and pulled out a lot of close races.”
The 400 relay team of Lexi Heil, Taylor Pehrson and Kasey and Carly Roberts finished first with a pool record time of 3:49.63. The 200 relay team of Kasey Roberts, Heil, Pehrson and Ellen Swedzinski also finished first with a time of 1:45.34.
Other first-place finishes: Katie Schmitz (500 free); Heil (100 free); Kasey Roberts (100 fly, 200 IM); Jessie Metz (1-meter dive) and Carly Roberts (200 free).
STMA’s meet with Buffalo is at 6 p.m. Saturday. Saturday starts the beginning of the True Team section playoffs. The meet will be held at Elk River’s VandenBerge Middle School.