by Bruce Strand
Rogers has two swimmers at the state meet for the first time, as Jessica Young and Alaina Sylvester both qualified at the Section 2A meet last Friday.
Young was the 200 freestyle champion and 500 freestyle runner-up, while Sylvester placed third in breaststroke and beat the state standard, in the two-day meet at College of St. Catherine in St. Paul.
“It was really be nice to have another person there,” said Young, a sophomore who went to state last year and placed 10th in the 200 free.
Rogers previously had solo qualifiers in Allie Maxwell (five times) and Robert Springer.
The state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota will be held Friday (preliminaries) and Saturday (finals) beginning noon each day.
The 13-girl Rogers contingent also had two fifth-place relays and finished fifth among nine schools in the team standings. Benilde-St. Margaret’s was champion.
“Our girls swam amazingly well, and continued to drop their times,” said Kirsten Larson, Elk assistant coach who headed the Rogers group on Friday.
“It was thrilling to see what they did. Our relays came close to making state cuts, too. They pulled together and swam their hearts out, especially 400 team. They dropped two or three seconds.”
Rogers swims with Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman during the regular season, but the team splits into three for sectionals. All the coaches were on hand for 2A prelims Wednesday, but on Friday the Elks had their Section 8AA prelims.
Young, a sophomore, had the best seed time in both distance events. She won the 200 handily with 1:57.76, with Amanda Semler of Benilde-St. Margaret’s next in 1:58.09. In the 500, Breck senior Abby Erdmann cut several seconds off her personal best to win in 5:10.56 with Young next at 5:16.72.
Young swam a pair of personal bests, beating her previous best of 1:58.7 and 5:26.84. She appears to be in medal contention for the state Class A meet as her 500 time is fifth-best and her 200 time is sixth-best among state qualifiers. Erdmann’s time was the best among eight sections.
Sylvester, a freshman, swam a personal-best 1:09.73, finishing behind Cathryn Ostrom of St. Louis Park and Alyssa Phelps of Breck. Only the top two normally advance, but you can also qualify by beating the standard, which was 1:10 for Class A breaststroke.
“I was happy how I did and I had my best times,” said Sylvester, also seventh in the 200 individual medley with 2:17. “Going to state was my goal.”
Two Rogers relays placed fifth — the medley team of Young, Alexandria O’Mara, Kayla Kranitz and Sylvester in 1:57.55, and the 400 freestyle team of Young, Anya Larson, Kayla Kranitz and Sylvester in 3:47.37.
The 200 freestyle team of Marisa Kranitz, Keelie Swafford, Larson and Schuster was 8th in 1:50.32.
Also making finals was eighth-grader Elizabeth Kelzer, who placed 8th in the backstroke (1:06.30).
Reaching consolation finals and scoring pointers were Anya Larson, 9th in the IM (2:22.10) and 14th in the butterfly (1:06.18); Kayla Kranitz, 16th in both the 200 free (2:10.96) and butterfly (1:10.13); Maggie Schuster, 15th in the 500 (5:53.76); and O’Mara, 15th in breaststroke (1:16.14).
Asked if the Rogers girls enjoy the opportunity to break away and compete on their own, the girls laughed.
“We are like a family, the whole (ERZ) team,” said Sylvester.
“We all like each other,” agreed Young. “Swimmers in general are pretty nice people!”
Larson noted that the Elk girls were at St. Cate’s on Wednesday cheering the Royals, and vice versa Saturday when the Elks hosted their section finals.
“I think we are all one team, in spirit, always,” said Larson.