Qualifying for the Class AA State Swimming and Diving Meet in the 100-yard breaststroke three straight years does not automatically mean it will a fourth time.
For Chanhassen senior Chloe Zeller, when she hit the wall, removed her googles, she looked up at the scoreboard. It was going to be close.
More than a second over the state cut in the preliminary swim, needing an effort close to her career-best in the finals, Zeller fought and fought in the breaststroke championship heat Nov. 8 at the Eden Prairie Community Center.
Her time, 1:06.67, was one of four qualifying times from Section 2AA, the state standard 1:06.98. She had done it.
"It's a really awesome feeling. Sometimes I feel am I not going fast when I'm in the pool, but you just have to know you are. When you look and see that time, it's a 'Oh my God, moment. It's just a crazy feeling," Zeller said.
Zeller's state qualification was one of eight swims to move onto next week, including all three relays and a top time from Section 2AA champion Sophie Macy in the 200 individual medley.
Zeller, 12th in the breaststroke race as a freshman, a career-best 1:06.52, was 19th as a sophomore and 15th as a junior.
"You try and look over to see where people are, pace off them," said Zeller of being in lane one. "Certainly being in the championship heat, having the top swimmers, Sophie, to push me, really is what got me through again."
Chanhassen, which edged Prior Lake for third place with 277 1/2 points, accomplished what they set out to do in relay events, qualifying in all three races once again. Senior Sophia Becker for the second straight a part of all three.
Becker swam butterfly, Zeller anchoring the freestyle stroke with Abby Gronholz in backstroke and Macy in breaststroke in a third-place finish of 1:47.67. The opening swim set the tone for the rest of the meet.
Zeller had the fastest leg in the 200-yard freestyle relay, 23.89, in the anchor position. Zoe Thoma, Becker and Daisy Lang were the first three swimmers in the pool for a time of 1:37.94 for third place.
The final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, also saw Chanhassen take third behind Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Becker, Thoma and Lang put their arms around each other, knowing they were headed to state with Macy in the pool for the anchor. Their final time was 3:35.29.
"We were able to get third in all three relays, post season-best times, so I'm really proud of the team's effort. That's always our goal, getting all three relays in, and we did, so it was a great day," Zeller said.
For Macy, a podium finisher in the 200 individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke in 2018, the junior is well on the way once again.
The Chanhassen swimmer broke the pool record in the individual medley for the second consecutive day, a time of 2:05.85, a career-best. Her freestyle 50 was a sub-30, one of only two swimmers to accomplish the feat.
Macy added a second-place time in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:05.16. Her career-best time was 1:05.60 from the 2018 state preliminaries.
In total, pool records were set in 10 of 11 events with five Section 2AA records, all from Minnetonka.
Chanhassen will also have state swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
With first-year Storm coach Barb Folsom cheering her on from the side of the pool, sophomore Kalina Fuglie qualified for her second straight state meet in the 500, a time of 5:09.10 for fifth place.
Abby Gronholz also qualified for state in back-to-back seasons, a career-best 57.32 seconds for fourth place in the backstroke. The Chanhassen junior was one of 10 section swimmers to advance to state.
Chanhassen had championship swims from Thoma and Lang in the 200-yard freestyle, times of 1:55.64 and 1:57.10, for fifth and seventh places. The duo were 10th and 11th in 54.20 and 54.68 in the 100-yard freestyle.
Other finalists were Fuglie in the 200 freestyle (12th, 1:58.94), Emily Miner in the 200 individual medley (16th, 2:20.84), Zeller and Becker in the 50-yard freestyle (10th-11th, 24.75-24.79), and Lulu Franke and Hadley Stier in the breaststroke (12th-16th, 1:10.42-1:14.50).
BACK ON THE BOARD
Sophomore Alyssa Konz watched the state diving finals on crutches in 2018 after just missing the finals in her state debut.
Getting a second chance seemed in doubt in 2019, Konz not competing in a meet before sections.
Cleared just two weeks ago to resume diving, the Chanhassen star led from start to finish over 11 dives, capturing the Section 2AA title with a score of 329.90.
Chanhassen had three divers in the top 11, all four advancing to the finals.
Claire Guthmueller was ninth with a score of 296.60 followed by Amara Thomas in 11th (287.30) and Kate Robbins in 15th (275.35).
Storm diving coach Tamara Hodgins shared the section coach award with Minnetonka's Stephenie Varichak.
Konz will compete at the Jean Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. The top 16 divers advance to the finals Nov. 16.
Swimming preliminaries are Friday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.