Prelims hold key for Milaca at section swimming & diving meet

The Section 5A Girls Swimming and Diving Championships are Friday and Saturday at the Grand Rapids Middle School Pool.

Swimming preliminaries are Friday, starting at 5 p.m. The meet continues Saturday with the diving preliminaries and semifinals at 11 a.m. The finals in the swimming events and diving are at 3 p.m.

The prelims will hold the key to Milaca’s fortunes in the meet.

“Our first goal is to get as many girls into the finals as we can,” said Milaca Co-Head Coach Jennifer Burroughs. “That means we will have to be ready for top performances right away.”

Sixteen swimmers in each event will advance from Thursday’s prelims to Saturday’s consolation and championship events.

“We have a good chance to advance several individuals and relays to Saturday’s competition,” said Burroughs. “We’re very excited about our relays – we have a good shot at medaling in these events.

“And we’re looking forward to seeing some career bests by our seniors.”

Burroughs pointed to the 200-yard freestyle relay team of sophomores Tara Airhart, Rachel Airhart and Ashley Cassens and junior Sarah Forker.

“They are very close to the Milaca school record and could possibly qualify for state by time,” said Burroughs. “If not this season, next season.”

Teams in the meet include Becker, Big Lake, Cloquet-Esko, Foley, Monticello, Proctor-Hermantown, Princeton, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Zimmerman, Ogilvie and Milaca.

Burroughs feels Monticello, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Foley and Big Lake are the team favorites.

“It is hard to narrow down the favorite because there are so many amazing teams in this tough section.”

The Wolves are coming off a strong fourth-place showing at the Granite Ridge Conference Meet, which was won by Foley.

The top two placers in each event advance to the Class A State Meet Nov. 15-17 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Relays and individuals can also qualify for the state meet by posting a state-qualifying time.

Following is Milaca tentative lineup for the section meet:

-200-yard medley relay: Juniors Leah Crain and Ori Scherer, senior Sami Mitchell and Cassens.

-200 freestyle: Rachel Airhart and senior Kendra Maalis.

-200 individual medley: Mitchell and Scherer.

-50 freestyle: Forker, Tara Airhart, senior Clair Coffee and sophomore Hannah Johnson.

-Diving: Forker, Tara Airhart and sophomores BryAnna Paulson and Allison Rogers.

-100 butterfly: Scherer.

-100 freestyle: Rachel Airhart, Cassens, Coffee and Johnson.

-500 freestyle: no entry.

-200 freestyle relay: Tara Airhart, Rachel Airhart, Cassens and Forker.

-100 backstroke: Crain and Paulson.

-100 breaststroke: Mitchell and senior Kendra Mollet.

-400 freestyle relay: Cassens, Tara Airhart, Rachel Airhart and Forker.