The Shakopee girls swimming team capped off its best season ever in the South Suburban Conference Oct. 26.
The Sabers won nine of 12 events, including two of three relays, in a 96-87 home win over Eastview to finish 6-3 in the league duals.
Juniors Haley Zelen and Amelie Girard and ninth-grader Arianna Zelen lead the way with each winning two individual events.
The Sabers finished 5-4 in SSC duals last season, and that was program’s best mark in its previous eight years in the league. The five wins were also the most the team has had in the last 15 seasons.
Next up for the Sabers is the Section 2AA meet. The prelims are Nov. 10 with the finals Nov. 12. Diving will be held Nov. 11, and all three days are at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake.
The winning relays and top two individuals in each of the swim events make the state field, along with the top four in diving. The other way to get there is by beating the state qualifying times.
Section 2AA is loaded with four ranked teams — No. 1 Minnetonka, No. 3 Edina, No. 5 Eden Prairie and No. 6 Prior Lake. Chanhassen, Chaska and Bloomington Jefferson are also in the field.
So meeting state cut times will be the focus for the Sabers, although Haley Zelen will likely be one of the favorites in both the 100 and 200 freestyle. Last year at sections, she set pool and school records in both of those events and would have qualified for state.
However, there was not state meet last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sabers’ 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays would have also made the state last year. The Zelen sisters, Girard and sophomore Adriana Gorter made up both of those teams last fall and will likely be the foursome in both at sections this time around.
“The successes this team has experienced are a direct result of the teamwork, respect and kindness these girls display,” Sabers coach Jenny Carlson said. “They have formed a strong bond and a strong hunger to keep this team moving in a winning direction.”
In the win over Eastview, the Zelen sisters, Girard and ninth-grader Julia Todd teamed up to win the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:53.09. The Zelens, Gorter and sophomore Brooklyn Schumacher won the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.59).
Haley Zelen was tops in the 200 freestyle (1:58.10) and the 100 butterfly (57.50), while Ariana Zelen won both the 100 freestyle (54.79) and the 100 breaststroke (1:10.75). Girard claimed the 200 individual medley (2:16.06) and the 100 backstroke (1:00.49).
Sophomore Erika Schroeder won the 50 freestyle for the Sabers (26.0).
The Sabers’ 400 freestyle relay team of Girard, Gorter, Schroeder and junior Sonja Kovic finished second (3:47.94), as did ninth-grader Elizabeth Leisure in diving (172.50 points) and Schumacher in the 50 freestyle (26.75).
Seventh-grader Lexi Tippie led Shakopee in the 500 freestyle taking third (5:39.84).
This year’s Class AA state meet is set for Nov. 18-20 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Edina has won the last four Class AA state team titles and seven of the last 10.