MINNEAPOLIS -- At the Class A girls' state swimming and diving meet, Red Wing became more present. Head coach Mikayla Beuch and her assistant coaches continued to wear purple and white striped overalls. This year, white bucket hats were added to the attire.
It's all about standing out in a crowd.
"We've kind of added on every year," Beuch said near the end of the meet at the Jean K. Freeman Center on Saturday. "It's something that gives us good vibes."
The Wingers had a presence in the pool too.
To begin the year, Beuch had a grocery list of events the team wanted to compete in at state. Among those on the list were the 200-yard medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 100 butterfly, 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle.
The Wingers competed in either the championship or consolation finals in each of those events.
"This is the most we've sent to state in a very long time," Beuch said. "That presence is huge for us. We've had a huge presence throughout the year as well. It's truly been a very successful year for us from start to finish. For a team of our size, we are a very small team, but we're mighty. That's what we always try to instill in the girls is that you can do great things."
Cecelia De Jong came into the 100 butterfly as the top-seeded swimmer based on section times. Beuch said De Jong didn't have her best race in the preliminary, but came back to the championship finals with nothing to lose.
"There was a lot of pressure on her coming into this meet based on her seeding. She was seeded very high and I think that affected her prelim race. She was very nervous," Beuch said. "In many ways, I think it actually benefited her because she's a great chaser. For her to come to today in all of her events, relays included, she knew she had nothing to lose. She was just going to go for it. Her icing on the cake is that she broke the school record in the 100 butterfly."
De Jong, who finished in third place with a time of 55.97 seconds, snapped the school record of 56.10 seconds.
Earlier in the meet, Wingers Grace O'Brien, Teegan Beyers, Sammy Kriese and De Jong took fifth place in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:49.31 and were just 0.03 seconds from finishing fourth. In the 200 freestyle relay, the Wingers won the consolation finals with a time of 1:39.15 and were ninth overall.
The four have been leading the Wingers relays for much of the last two-plus years. Next year that will change as O'Brien swam at her last high school meet.
From Beuch to O'Brien's teammates, all shared the same sentiment about O'Brien: she'll be missed.
"Without her it will be a very different vibe. Hopefully, we can return here in our relays next year," De Jong said.
"Grace is the one that keeps us going. Even if we're in a bad mood, she's the one that will tell us to get over it," Kriese added.
O'Brien swam in the 100 backstroke the previous day in the preliminaries. Although she didn't swim in either finals races in that event, she said the relays were a highlight of her season.
"(The) 100 back, (it) was really nice to make it to state. I was really proud of my swim for that," O'Brien said. "But swimming with Teegan, Sammy and Cece, it's the best part of the meet by far. To finish on such a high note. Then our team, we started finding things out and really pushing ourselves. Everyone's positive attitudes really showed. It was just so amazing to see everyone get so hyped up for everyone else. The team atmosphere we have was great."
Elsewhere, Beyers finished second in the consolation finals, and 10th overall, in the 50 freestyle (24.54). She followed up with a second-place swim, and again earned 10th overall, in the 100 freestyle consolation finals. She said with every state appearance, her confidence grows.
"I did better this year. I'm going to keep my hopes up and just get better as I go," Beyers said. "I'm super excited for next year, just willing to get faster. Next year I'm hoping for a great state meet again."