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Albert Lea earns 3 spots in 3 events at state meet

ROCHESTER — It was a busy and entertaining night for the Albert Lea Tigers girls’ swimming and diving team Friday night in Rochester.

The Tigers had two individuals and a relay team advance from Wednesday’s preliminaries, and Friday was the big finale to see who would be moving onto the state meet.

For Emily Taylor and Jaeda Koziolek, dreams became reality inside Rochester Recreation Center.

Taylor claimed two spots in two events for the state meet — the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke — and Koziolek will move on in the 100 backstroke.

Albert Lea sophomore Emily Taylor was all smiles after earning a spot in the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle. She came in third place and qualified with a time of 24.87. She also qualified in the 100 breaststroke. Jarrod Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea sophomore Emily Taylor was all smiles after earning a spot in the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle. She came in third place and qualified with a time of 24.87. She also qualified in the 100 breaststroke. – Jarrod Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

Normally, the top two from each event advance to the state meet, but it was different this time in the 50 freestyle. Four swimmers all came in under the qualifying time of 25.06 seconds.

Taylor finished in third place with a time of 24.87. Faribault’s Megan Gehrke won the race with a time of 24.54 and her teammate, Bre Bresnahan, finished second with a time of 24.79. Northfield’s Ellen Varley claimed fourth place and a trip to the state meet with a time of 24.99.

Taylor earned another third-place finish, this time in the 100 breaststroke. She came in under the time limit of 1:09.99, finishing in a time of 1:07.84.

Northfield’s Sophia Nevin won the event with a time of 1:04.86.

Like Taylor, Koziolek swam in two events Friday, as well.

Albert Lea eighth-grader Jaeda Koziolek swims during her 200 individual medley relay. She qualified for the state meet in the 100 backstroke.

Albert Lea eighth-grader Jaeda Koziolek swims during her 200 individual medley relay. She qualified for the state meet in the 100 backstroke. – Jarrod Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

Her first event of the night was the 200 individual medley. She swam a hard race, but fell just short of the alloted time of 2:17.77. She came in fifth place with a time of 2:20.91.

However, she would rebound in a big way later in the meet.

Koziolek found an extra gear in the 100 backstroke, claiming a second-place finish with a time of 1:01.35, beating the qualifying time by .5 seconds.

Mankato West’s Rachel Phinney won the event with a time of 59.58.

Albert Lea’s Emily Taylor reacts with a smile after looking up at the time board and seeing she is headed to the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle event.

Albert Lea’s Emily Taylor reacts with a smile after looking up at the time board and seeing she is headed to the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle event. – Jarrod Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

The Tigers’ relay team of Lydia Boorsma, Natalie Nafzger, Koziolek and Taylor just missed qualifying for the state meet in the 200 medley relay. The foursome finished with a time of 1:56.50, just two seconds behind the qualifying time.

Albert Lea had won the event the past two years and set the meet record in 2014.

Albert Lea also swam in the 200 freestyle relay.

Alana Skarstad, Lexie Simon, Emma Grossman and Jill Peterson  finished in eighth place in the championship round, clocking in with a time of 1:51.48.

Overall, ALbert Lea finished in ninth place in total team points — 115 — and Northfield won with 426.

The state meet will start Wednesday and run through Friday.