It’s been a tough couple weeks for the Waconia swimming and diving team, as the Wildcats have battled the heart of their schedule, swimmer illnesses and injuries, and faced many teams repeatedly.
“In a matter of a week, we went up against D-C three times and Watertown three times,” WHS head coach Amy Howard said. “Next year, we have to find a way to separate this out because swimming so close together in dates really doesn’t give us time to change the outcomes much.”
Team illnesses are also having an effect on the scores at meets.
“I have been having 4-5 girls out on a regular basis with illnesses including some of my fastest swimmers and it just seems like we can’t catch a break right now,” Howard said.
The ‘Cats only dual meet win of the last two weeks came Sept. 10 as Waconia hosted New Prague and came out on top 120-66. Howard said the Wildcats enjoy competing against the Trojans in what is usually a low-stress atmosphere.
“This is one of the meets we knew we could win, so we were able to put kids in events they requested or hadn’t been doing lately,” she said.
Facing off against a large 70-plus member Dassel-Cokato squad on Sept. 12, the Wildcats fell 113-75. With injuries and illnesses starting to settle in the Wildcats, Howard said she really wanted to give the meet her all.
“I was heartbroken really not to be able to go in with both guns drawn but that is part of life,” she said.
The junior varsity Wildcats finished second in a JV triangular meet with Dassel-Cokato and Watertown. Waconia swimmers that competed were only Wildcats that had not yet achieved the section cut time in a given event. The ‘Cats finished second with 492 points over Watertown’s 284. The Chargers won with 560 points.
“I feel my JV team is the strongest of the three teams but D-C has so many more girls that points added up quickly for them,” Howard said.
Waconia hosted its final home meet of the season Sept. 19 and also celebrated Parents’ Night in the dual against Watertown. The meet would come down to the last relay to decide a victor, with the narrow 93-87 win going to the Royals. Howard said the meet was stressful.
“We were both watching the score so carefully,” she said. “Every point counted. Chuck (Watertown’s coach) would come over and strategically change his line up and we would counter with a change of our own. I may have added several gray hairs that night.”
Multiple event wins by the ‘Cats kept the score close, beginning with a win in the 200 medley relay, swam by sophomore Jessica Stangret, junior Taylor Beynon, seventh grader Anneli Paulson, and junior McKinna Kahl, who finished in 1:59.13. Beynon went on to win the 200 IM in 2:19.29 and the 10 breaststroke (1:13.49), while Kahl took home top honors in the 50 free with a time of 26.91 seconds, as well as the 100 fly in 1:04.42. Senior Abigail Wessale finished second in the 100 fly in 1:06.54.
Senior Nicole Hennen took first in the diving competition with a score of 170.80, over eighth grader Ashley Basile (101.80). Watertown-Mayer no longer has a girls’ diving team.
Beynon, Kahl, sophomore Carolyn Schmieg, and senior Rachael Sanborn teamed up for a win in the 200 free relay in 1:48.34, before Stangret and Schmieg went 1-2 in the 100 backstroke.
In the final 400 free relay, the team of eighth grader Karissa Ohlsen, sophomore Marri Saunders, freshman Emma Lohman, and sophomore Alyssa Kirsch finished third in 4:08.82, behind two teams from the Royals.
The Wildcats finished up the stretch of meets by competing in Watertown’s invitational on Sept. 21, finishing fourth with 159 points. Orono (315) took home top honors, followed by Watertown (285), and Mound-Westonka (264). St. Peter (143) and Minneapolis South/Washburn (136) also competed. The biggest highlight for WHS during the invite was when Beynon broke her own school record in the 500 with a final time of 5:31.10, finishing second in the event.
After all that swimming, the Wildcats are ready for a much needed, and deserved, break.
“Only have two decent practices each of the last two weeks has not been good,” Howard said. “I can’t wait to stop the running, keep them home, get in some good practices and get my team healthy.”
Despite illness, injury, or whatever else may plague the team, Howard isn’t worried.
“I am not worried about our season because I believe we are swimming right where we should be considering the time of the year and the adversity we are under,” she said.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com