The Tigers look to make it back to state in 2016

Published 1:12 pm Saturday, August 27, 2016

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fter losing star swimmer Lindsey Horejsi, along with seven other swimmers from a team that made an appearance at the state meet and took third overall, to graduation, the Albert Lea Tigers girls’ swimming team might take a bit of a step back this season.

The key word is “might.”

New coach Joey Clapp will now command the girls team, a team that finished with a perfect 9-­0 record in 2015.

This 2016 squad will be young, with just one senior, Alana Skarstad, who has been named the team’s captain. Sophomore Emily Taylor is carving out her place among Albert Lea’s best swimmers, as she returns with All-Conference and All­-State honors.

As a seventh-­grader last season, Jaeda Koziolek excelled and figures to be one of the Tigers’ top swimmers this season.

In all, Clapp has 10 swimmers with a lot of experience. And he has high expectations.

“I expect this team to compete with the upper half of the Big Nine Conference this season,” Clapp said. “We are coming off our best season in school history, and losing eight seniors is hard for any team. But we still have plenty of good swimmers on this team.”

Rochester Mayo and Mankato West should have strong teams, so the Tigers will rely on Taylor, Skarstad and Koziolek, along with a host of juniors — Emma Grossman, Lexie Simon, Emily Jensen, Jill Peterson, Natalie Nafzger and Lydia Boorsma — and sophomore Katie Funk get the job done.

“Hard work, staying positive and filling the varsity spots will help us rebound from losing a great senior,” Clapp said.

Albert Lea will open its season Sept. 1 when it travels to Austin.