Haley Zelen

Junior Haley Zelen set a new pool record in the 100 butterfly in Shakopee’s conference dual loss at No. 8-ranked Farmington Sept. 2.

The Shakopee girls swimming team has split its first South Suburban Conference duals this fall.

The Sabers’ two wins are over Lakeville South (94-86) and Lakeville North (93-85), while their two losses are to the only two Class AA ranked teams from the SSC.

Shakopee lost 99-86 at No. 8-ranked Farmington to open the season Sept. 2 and fell 102-84 at No. 6 Prior Lake Sept. 23.

The Sabers finished 5-4 in league duals last season. It was the program’s best mark in its eight years in the SSC. The five dual wins were the most the team has had in the last 15 seasons.

Shakopee coach Jenny Carlson believes her team has the talent back to improve on last year’s SSC record, along with qualifying more relays and individuals for the Class AA state meet. That will be held Nov. 18-20 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

There was no state competition last fall due to COVID-19. If there was, the Sabers would have qualified in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, while junior Haley Zelen would have made it two events, the 100 and 200 freestyles.

Zelen got off to a good start in season opener against Farmington. She set a pool record in the 100 butterfly, winning with a time of 57.22.

Zelen broke the old pool mark of 57.79 set by Zoe Avestruz of Chanhassen in 2013. Avestruz was a three-time Class AA state champion in the 100 butterfly for the Storm.

In the dual with Prior Lake, Zelen went even faster in winning the 100 butterfly (57.04). The state cut time in that event is 58.35.

Shakopee and Prior Lake each won six events in the dual. However, the Lakers won two of three relays and had a little more depth than the Sabers.

The Lakers have won 31 straight SSC duals over the last three-plus seasons.

Zelen, junior Amelie Girard, sophomore Adriana Gorter and ninth-grader Arianna Zelen won the 200 medley relay (1:50.54) for Shakopee.

Giard was tops in the 200 individual medley (2:15.49), while Arianna Zelen won both the 50 freestyle (24.57) and the 100 freestyle (53.60).

The Sabers took the top two spots in diving. Ninth-grader Elizabeth Leisure won with 180.15 points, while junior Grace VanSickle was second (158.45).

Runner-up finishes for Shakopee went to Haley Zelen in the 200 freestyle (1:55.1), ninth-grader Olivia Wimberger in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.80), the 200 freestyle team of Wimberger, Gorter, ninth-grader Julia Todd and seventh-grader Karlie Schumacher (1:46.66) and the 400 freestyle team of the Zelen sisters, Girard and sophomore Erika Schroeder (3:38.10).

Seventh-grader Lexi Tipple finished third in the 500 freestyle (5:43.01) for the Sabers, as did Schroeder in the 100 backstroke (1:03.12).

Shakopee’s final SSC dual is Oct. 26 at home versus Eastview. The Section 2AA meet will be held Nov. 10-12.

Last fall, Shakopee had four swimmers miss the section meet due to being quarantined. They’ll need everyone this season since Section 2AA got much stronger last April when the when the Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports.

Perennial power Edina is now in the field, and Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Prior Lake, Chanhassen, Chaska and Bloomington Jefferson are still in the field.

Edina has won the last four Class AA state team titles and seven of the last 10. Four Section 2AA teams are also currently ranked, No. 1 Minnetonka, No. 3 Edina, No. 5 Eden Prairie and the Lakers.

“Last season at sections we had four of our top varsity girls quarantined resulting in us missing points in eight races,” Carlson said. “Yet we still scored 71 points, more than the season prior. We also had 10 girls finish in the top 16, and most were actually top eight.

“We’re very excited to see what the girls will do with a full section team competing,” Carlson added.

The winning relay, top-two individual swimmers and top-four divers make the state field from the eight sections. The other way to get there is to meet the state cut time.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.