The path to the Minnesota State High School League Meet begins and ends at the section championship meet. A return to a two-day event in girls swimming and diving this season, with preliminary races on the first day, with the top 16 finishers in each event invited to return for finals races two days later.
The Mound-Westonka/Holy Family team, one of 11 squads competing in the Section 3A Championships in Willmar on Nov. 11 and 13, the White Hawks-Fire co-op finished fifth overall and will send seven swimmers to the state meet at the University of Minnesota on Nov. 19-20.
MWHF head coach Ben Hanson pulled together a trio of MSHSL state tournament qualifying relay teams despite the absence of top swimmer, Fire sophomore Catherine Dueck, who came down with an illness between the preliminaries and finals.
Dueck’s preliminary races had her seeded third in the 200 individual medley (2:14.57) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (54.51).
The 200-yard medley relay team of Kristin Collins, Kate Johnston, Annie Springer, and Jaylyn Storm had a third-place finish (1:50:24). Johnston and Storm were joined by Annemarie Johnson and Ellen Ries in a state-cut time of 1:40.77 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Ellen and Abigail Ries along with Johnson and Springer earned their ticket to state with a fifth-place finish (3:42.47) in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Five MWHF swimmers advanced to the state meet in individual events; Storm in the 50-yard freestyle (24.47, second) and the 100 Freestyle (54.26, fifth); Ellen Ries in the 500-yard freestyle (5:24.44, fourth); Johnston in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.51, second); Johnson in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.36, third); and Springer in the 100-yard butterfly (59.87, fourth).
Other individual Fire competitors in the Section 3A event finals included Ellen Ries in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.82, fifth), Abigail Ries in the 200 individual medley (2:24.68, 13th) and Courtney French in the 200 freestyle (10th) and 500 freestyle (5:44.97, 13th).
Diver Bailey Monette earned 302 points over 11 dives, less than a point out of the top four, which would have qualified for the seventh grader for the state meet.
The Class A State preliminaries and finals begin at noon on Nov. 19 and 20.