The Waconia swim team continues to exceed its goals set by coach Amy Howard-Schmitt as the season jumps into full swing this week.
After defeating Orono on the road in late August, the Wildcats pulled off a 51-51 tie at Litchfield on Sept. 6, the closest they have come to defeating the Dragons in over seven years.
“We went in hoping to just get close,” Howard-Schmitt said. “We knew [Litchfield] had graduated a couple of really good divers and we are stronger in all of our events than last year, so it was our goal to ‘give them a scare.’”
Howard-Schmitt said the Dragons had predetermined their victory by examining past results, and after the first half, she admitted it was looking bleak for the ‘Cats.
“We weren’t swimming out first races to our best ability and we lost a couple of first places by just a stroke or two, which made me a little nervous,” she said.
The Wildcats were second in the 200 medley relay (freshman Jessica Stangret, senior Hannah Schultz, sophomore McKinna Kahl, and freshman Carolyn Schmieg) in 1:58.72. Sophomore Harley Ruiz was second in the 200 free with a time of 2:16.18, closely trailed by freshman Marri Saunders in third (2:20.82). Sophomore Taylor Beynon won the 200 IM with her time of 2:22.76. Junior Rachael Sanborn finished third in the event (2:39.73). Schultz and Kahl went 3-4 in the 50 free with times of 27.40 and 27.44, respectively.
Waconia rallied in the second half of the meet, posting some lifetime best times and setting a new school record. Nicole Hennen and Ella Hommer once again were 1-2 in diving, with scores of 150.20 and 141.90. Abigail Wessale wowed the crowd with her first place finish in the 100 fly. With a time of 1:06.62, Wessale not only set a lifetime best in the event, she also touched out one of the best flyers in the conference, Litchfield’s Marissa Warren. Kahl finished third in the event with a strong 1:12.60.
Sisters Jessica and Kathryn Stangret were first and fourth in the 100 free with times of 57.53 and 1:02.69. Jessica Stangret swam a lifetime best in the event. Stangret went on to break her own school record in the 100 backstroke with a 1:01.52. Schmieg finished third in the event, with her own lifetime best of 1:05.18. Ruiz was third in the 500 free with a final time of 6:13.14. Beynon and Schultz were 2-3 in the 100 breaststroke with times of 1:13.64 and 1:16.28, respectively.
With a 1-2 finishing punch in the 400 free relay, the Wildcats tied up the meet at 51-51. Stangret, Schmieg, Sanborn, and Beynon rallied for the win in the event with a time of 4:02.52, while Ruiz, Saunders, Kathryn Stangret, and seventh grader Nicole Schuler grabbed second in 4:12.76.
Howard-Schmitt said that although the team was tired after the meet, they were very happy with the tie.
“We were so elated and Litchfield gave us sincere congratulations on how we have become a very hard to beat team these last couple of years,” she said.
The ‘Cats are home tonight against Dassel-Cokato, and then at Watertown-Mayer next Thursday and Saturday.