Tiger swimmers advance relay and two individual to state meet

Published 1:23 am Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Section 1A meet quickly developed into a strong meet for the Albert Lea girls’ swimming and diving team and in the end it could have been even better.

Across the board the Tigers continued to cut their times Friday in Austin and advanced a relay and two individual events to the Class A state.

Albert Lea head coach Jon Schmitz said it was one of the best section meets he’s seen and many swimmers were etching their place in the school record book with their performances.

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“You cannot complain about what happened,” Schmitz said. “It was one of our top section meets — both the prelims and section. We had such great improvement (in the) prelims and we came back and did the same thing. We had great improvement again.”

The Tigers finished seventh at the meet with 171 points and sent 10 events to the finals, including seven to the A finals. Northfield won the meet with 397 points while Red Wing placed second with 334.5 points.

With the way Albert Lea started it looked like there would be a host of Tigers making their way to the state meet. But as it often is, the section meet was the site of some great triumphs and near misses for Albert Lea.

The triumphs started with the 200-yard medley relay. The relay team of freshman Kemma Bergland, senior Gracie Thomas, junior Amy Horejsi and sophomore Galen Schulz entered the finals a little less than a half second away from the state cut time in order to advance to the state meet. The relay team got there in fashion, turning in a time that was more than a second faster than its preliminary time to finish seventh in a time of 1 minute, 56.48 seconds, nearly a second under the cut time of 1:57.38.

“The strategy was we had to get that medley going,” Schmitz said. “We were going to be fresh at that point. Everybody improved on that relay and we bettered our time by another second, which is crazy.”

Just weeks earlier the relay had swam a time of 2:02.92, but a few changes and three lifetime best swims cut six seconds from the relay’s time at the Big Nine Conference meet. Bergland, Thomas and Schulz each swam lifetime bests in the relay.

Schulz wasn’t done setting lifetime bests at the meet. She set two more in her individual events, the 50 and 100 freestyle. Schulz finished the 50 freestyle in a time of 24.97 to qualify for the state meet, beating the state cut time of 25.37 and set a new lifetime best in the event for the second time this week. At the Big Nine Conference meet Schulz set a personal best in the 100 freestyle and eclipsed that mark once again in the finals by finishing in 55.61 seconds. The time, however, was two one-hundredths of a second from the state cut time of 55.59.

Sophomore Morgan Field, who turned in an impressive swim during the preliminaries Wednesday, bested herself once again in the 100 breaststroke. Field entered the finals with the best preliminary time, which was 1:11.78, and beat that time by .71 seconds in the finals to become the second consecutive Tiger swimmer to qualify for state in the event.

“The breaststroke — what do you say? Morgan going 1:11 again, (she) really charged the wall hard,” Schmitz said. “The place wasn’t the same, but that’s fine. She made the cut and that was her job.”

Albert Lea’s state entrant in the breaststroke last year was Thomas, and this year she looked in good position to make a return trip early in her race. But she came up just shy of the state cut time, swimming a time of 1:13.14 to miss the cut time of 1:12.21.

“Gracie was set up to make state. Her first split was a state-cut split,” Schmitz said. “She just couldn’t bring it home, I don’t know why. Last year she was always one that would charge back that last 50. Now she’s got more speed, but the stamina is not as good.”

The 200 freestyle relay was another near miss. It was on the verge of making the state cut time, but came up just .13 seconds shy of the cut time, despite cutting 1.1 seconds off its prelim time.

Albert Lea’s Karli Kriewall concluded a strong diving season as she moved up the ranks in 1-meter diving. After Wednesday’s preliminary round, Kriewall sat in 12th place, but finished ninth overall in the finals.

It was an important meet for the team and its maturity as several underclassmen made gains at the meet and provided a glimpse as to what the future could hold for the team. The Tigers graduate six seniors this season, but return a strong cast of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who had an impact for the team at the section meet.

“I think it’s really going to be good for our future,” Schmitz said. “We’ve got some young kids coming up and we’re pretty excited about that.”

The state meet begins Friday with the preliminaries at noon at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. The finals begin noon on Saturday.


1. Northfield 397, 2. Red Wing 334.5, 3. East Ridge 266, 4. Austin 238.5, 5. Mankato West 218, 6. St. Peter 204, 7. Albert Lea 171, 8. Simley 139, 9. Mankato East/Loyola 97, 10. New Prague 88, 11. South St. Paul 26.


200 medley relay: 7. Albert Lea, Kemma Bergland, Gracie Thomas, Amy Horejsi, Galen Schulz 1:56.48. 200 individual medley: 10. Morgan Field 2:29.15. 50 freestyle: 5. Schulz 24.97. 1-meter diving: 9. Karli Kriewall 268.20. 100 butterfly: 8. Horejsi 1:04.41; 15. Kim Nelson 1:07.71. 100 freestyle: 6. Schulz 55.61. 500 freestyle: 14. Jasmine Hanson 5:53.52. 200 freestyle relay: 7. Albert Lea, Schulz, Horejsi, Field, Nelson 1:43.83. 100 backstroke: 13. Bergland 1:09.56. 100 breaststroke: 3. Field 1:11.07; 4. Thomas 1:13.14; 8. Horejsi 1:15.91. 400 freestyle relay: 9. Albert Lea, Bergland, Nelson, Whitney Rasmussen, Field 4:05.85.