The Knights Girls Swim/Dive team dominated Section 8AA with a decisive win of 471 points a 77 point victory over number two perennial power house Maple Grove on Saturday night. The road to the Knights topping the section began on day one of the season. Nearly doubling the 2012 roster up to 45, the 2013 Knights brought a strong contingent of young swimmers and divers balanced against seasoned veterans who pushed through the Mississippi 8 Conference for their second undefeated Conference Championship. This year the Knights advance all three relays and five individuals to the state meet.
Senior Kasey Roberts prepares to defend her 2012 state championship in the 200 individual medley and state-runner up title in the 100 breaststroke after winning both events handily in the section. Roberts set pool records in both events and shattered her previous section record in the 100 breaststroke with a 104.16 and will enter the state tournament as top seed. Asked about her odds in the 100 breast, “It is going to be a very fast, very close race. Last year’s state champion, Olivia Anderson, (Edina) is the obvious favorite but there is no doubt there are a few of us who are capable of breaking the state record (1.01.08) and even winning.” Last year’s championship heat was the fastest in the Midwest and will definitely be one of the top races to watch as this year’s tournament.
STMA’s dominance in the 200 IM and 100 breast is secure in the hands of seventh grade newcomer Emma Lezer. Emma put the section on notice turning in a clear second place finish advancing her to state in the 200 IM and a strong state qualifying time of 1.07.27 for third place in the 100 breaststroke.
Swimmers joining Kasey and Emma as individual qualifiers are junior, Taylor Pehrson and sophomore Carly Roberts. Taylor is returning to the state meet in the 500 for the first time since the team moved to AA. Her strength and endurance where put to test when the race got off to a fast start. Taylor answered the challenge with a strong qualifying second place. In the backstroke, Carly Roberts held close to top finisher Erin Buck, Maple Grove in the first 50 yards and was out touched as she earned her first individual trip to state with a qualifying time of 59.94 in a second place finish as well as a new school record.
After finishing 9th in 2012 just outside All State honors, senior Jessie Metz came to the section meet prepared to take on one of the state’s top divers from Brainerd. Her impressive score of 404.60 shattered her previous team record and was a strong qualifying second to advance. Kasey Roberts on her fellow captain, “Jessie is a true team leader, her training in and out of the pool are great examples to our young divers and our entire team. With Jessie graduating, the team will look to our youngest divers to help pull the team to the next level next year.”
The Knights relay teams were definite meet highlights. After sending two relays in 2012 both finishing 16th the Knights plan to improve their finishes at state. The 200 medley relay of Carly Roberts, Kasey Roberts, Kristen Pieper and Lexi Heil finished first in a new pool and school record time of 1.48.48. A second first place finish, also earning school and pool record honors was the 200 free relay of Emma Lezer, Lexi Heil, Maddie Gallagher and Kasey Roberts. In the last event of the night, the 400 free relay qualified for the state meet for the first time and established another new school record. Second place was awarded to the team of Carly Roberts, Taylor Pehrson, Emma Lezer, and Maddie Gallagher with a time of 3.38.84
Additional top 16 finishers: 200 Free – 4th Carly Roberts, 5th Taylor Pehrson, 10th Ashley Storm, 12th Sarah Mulder; 200 IM – 4th Julia Pieper, 8th Kristina Swenson; 50 Free – 4th Lexi Heil, 5th Maddie Gallagher, 11th Kristen Pieper, 15th Lucy Arndt; 1 Meter diving – 10th Jada Brown, 14th Therese Chambers, 15th Olivia Lock; 100 Fly – 4th Kristen Pieper, 6th Kristina Swenson, 14th Josie Burns; 100 Free – 4th Lexi Heil, 6th Maddie Gallagher, 9th Julia Pieper; 15th Jenna Kocon; 500 Free – 6th Sarah Mulder, 12th Ashley Storm, 13th Jordyn Schnell; 100 Backstroke – 12th Jenna Kocon, 14th Lucy Arndt; 100 breaststroke – 7th Josie Burns, 12th Maddie Westendorp.
The state meet kicks off with diving prelims on Monday, Nov. 18, Swim prelims on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and finals for both on Wednesday, Nov. 20.