Spring Lake Park girls’ swimming team placed third at the Section 2A True Team meet, 249.5 points behind champion Blake and 205.5 points behind runner-up Breck at the event at Hutchinson High School Oct. 12.
Spring Lake Park coach Greg Kugler said the high finish was a reasonable goal for the team that has a lot of depth.
“We have a solid team with a lot of good swimmers, we just don’t have the stars across the board to run with the private schools,” he said.
The Panthers had nine top-three finishes in 12 events, including two second-place finishes from senior diver Ryann Lynch with a score of 333.10 points, 18.95 points behind Blake champion Madeline Carlson. Lynch set new personal bests in both six and 11 dive formats this fall against some of the top divers in the state.
Spring Lake Park’s strongest result came in the 100-yard freestyle where sophomore Sara Carmean and senior foreign exchange student Connie Alesse (from Rome, Italy) placed second and third in 57.82 and 57.87 seconds, respectively. The result netted 37 team points in the competition that places a premium on the number of high-placing finishers over one or two fast swimmers.
Kugler believes both Carmean and Alesse have a shot at qualifying for state in more than one event.
“Alesse has been a nice addition to the team,” he said.
Carmean has been battling back from a shoulder injury from this summer and Kugler believes she will be back to 100 percent with three more weeks of training before sections. He expects her to make another run at state in the 100 back and possibly the 100 free.
The Panthers opened the meet with a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay in 2:00.38 with the team of Carmean, Morgan Dickinson, Jones and Katie Kirchner.
The 400 free relay foursome of Alesse, Kirchner, Carmean and Jones placed third in the final event of the meet in 3:56.55.
Alessa was third in the 200 free in 2:09.74 to score 18 team points.
Carmean placed third in the 100 backstroke in 1:04.29, while freshman teammate Katie Kirchner was sixth in 1:07.68 and eighth-grader Yoo-Jin Hwang was 11th in 1:10.61.
Hwang was eighth in the 100 fly in 1:10.18 and freshman teammate Olivia Jones finished third in 1:06.76.
Dickinson was third in the 200 individual medley in 2:24.74, Jones was ninth in 2:32.28 and eighth-grader Haley Eidem was 10th in 2:35.33.
Dickinson was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and is starting to come around. “She’s seen her best time in that event slowly drop throughout the year along with some respectable times in the 200 IM for us as well,” Kugler said.
Spring Lake Park junior Bridget Matern was seventh and eighth-grade teammate Rachel Rackow was eighth in the 500 free to collect 27 team points.
The Panthers 200 free relay team of Alesse, Dickinson, Hwang and Matern placed seventh for 28 team points in 1:52.90.
Panthers seventh-grader Amanda Patel and Kallie Ward were 12th and 13th in the 50 free to add 17 points to the team total.
Without a conference championship meet, St. Louis Park, Cooper and Benilde-St. Margaret’s shared the title with 6-1 records with Spring Lake Park fourth.
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