The Red Wing girls’ swimming and diving team is sending seven entries to the Class A state swimming and diving meet next week after having five entries compete last year. The 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle relay both return. Cecelia De Jong qualified in two individual events, as did Teegan Beyers, plus Grace O’Brien made state in her first individual event as well. They will represent the Wingers at the state meet Thursday, Nov. 14, through Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
The 200-yard medley relay team of De Jong, Teegan Beyers, O’Brien and Sammy Kriese repeated as Section 1A champions and return to the state meet after finishing with a time of 1 minute, 49.03 seconds. In 2018 they won with a time of 1:50.77.
That same team won the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:39.71 to return to state as well after finishing fourth last year with a time of 1:41.23 to qualify via the standard qualifying time. Head coach Mikayla Beuch said that it was a process getting the team of DeJong, Teegan Beyers, O’Brien and Kriese to where they are now.
“We kinda knew based on last year that we would push to get the 200 freestyle relay to state again, it was between that and the 400 freestyle relay because we knew we had the 200 medley (relay),” she said. “For those girls, it was a matter of figuring out first off the order, the order is a huge thing, who can perform well on the front end, who can perform well in the middle and then finally the end as well. There’s a whole configuration that we played around with and we popped girls into different positions. In addition to that, it was about finding our speed with that. A lot of it came down to learning how to race properly, breathe properly, get in and out of the turns, that was gonna be huge.”
De Jong won her second section championship in a row in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.19 and also took fourth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:58.43, just sneaking under the standard qualifying time of 1:58.82 to qualify in a second event.
Beyers returns to state in the 100 freestyle after taking second with a time of 53.88 and also qualified in the 50 freestyle where she also finished second with a time of 24.55.
O’Brien made her first state meet as an individual when she took third in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.61, just two-tenths of a second under the standard qualifying time.
“I think to get as many people back to competing today was our No. 1 goal on Wednesday (preliminaries), and then for today a big goal for us was to get Grace O’Brien to state on an individual,” Beuch said.
She added that it took a herculean effort for O’Brien thanks to the order of events.
“That was (O’Brien’s) third event in a row, so she was swimming champ heat, champ heat on the relay and then champ heat again for the backstroke,” Beuch said. “Those were all valuable points that we couldn’t ask her to back off on one and save herself for another. She needed to go 100% balls to the wall on each one and she did, she’s got the biggest heart of the team for doing that, it was tremendous to watch as a coach.”
O’Brien was also about 5 seconds off of the standard qualifying time in the 500 freestyle as well.
Wingers take third
Red Wing as a team finished third overall in Section 1A with 277 team points behind champion Mankato West and runner-up Mankato East.
Beuch said it came down to the last event, the 400-freestyle relay, for the Wingers to maintain that spot.
“Our 400 freestyle relay at the very end, I pulled them aside a little bit before the race and said ‘listen, it’s going to be a close race, and not only close in the actual race but for points’ and to keep that third place we needed to bring it on the relay and hold off a couple other teams,” she said. “They understood that and each one of them had safe starts, they went out and gave it their all. We dropped overall 6 seconds from our prelim time and to do that, for each person individually on the relay to drop that much time is unheard of in most cases so that was really exciting.”
Overall, her and her coaching staff were very happy with the team’s effort as a whole.
“We are so excited with the final placing that we had, that’s huge for a team of our size. We had a lot of underdogs come up from the ranks and pull their weight and they did,” Beuch said. “We had a lot of girls sneak in the finals and in past years we’ve been on the other side of that where we didn’t quite make finals, this year we fought for our spots and it was great.
“We had a lot of girls that still continued to drop time from Wednesday, you get them under the pressure of finals, you got that crowd going, you have the high-stakes moments and the girls performed. Two of those instances were our 200 free and 200 medley relays, those were not great swims for us on Wednesday but we knew that we had more in the tank and we just brought it back and knowing we would be under the pressure to succeed, we did very well.”
Right before De Jong qualified for state in the 200 freestyle, Greta Lane swam in the consolation finals and finished 16th overall with a time of 2:14.48. In the 200 individual medley, Sophie Carlson was the consolation finals champion and took ninth overall with a time of 2:27.00. Madison Beyers also swam in the championship finals of the 100 butterfly and took seventh with a time of 1:05.51. Sarah Kolby competed in the consolation finals of the same event and ended up 11th overall in 1:08.36.
Lane took 14th overall after swimming a 59.64 in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle. In the 500 freestyle, O’Brien took fifth overall with a time of 5:32.29, Kennedy Carlson finished 12th in 5:49.11 and Madison Beyers placed 14th (5:54.99). Kennedy Carlson also took 14th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:08.91 and right behind her was Emma Hoppman in 15th with a time of 1:09.01.
Kriese took fourth in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:10.02 and was less than half a second away from qualifying for state. Sophie Carlson also competed in the championship finals of the 100 breaststroke and finished eighth in 1:14.39. The previously mentioned 400 freestyle relay team of Madison Beyers, Lane, Hoppman and Kolby took sixth with a time of 3:54.93.
Beuch also made sure to talk about the Wingers’ two eight grade divers, Kendra Carlisle and Payten Jaynes.
“We had a great showing in diving as well, our two eighth graders that are brand new to this whole big meet, this was the first time they’ve done 11 dives and we had one make the top 16 and she was the only eighth grader to make the top 16 in her first year as a varsity diver, so that’s a huge effort on her part and it helped the team out tremendously,” she said.
Diving preliminaries for the Class A state meet are Thursday, Nov. 14, at noon and swimming preliminaries are the same time on Friday. Saturday, Nov. 16, at noon are both the diving and swimming finals.