Olivia Johnston is a standout performer in the breaststroke for Rosemount. The Irish, who won the South Suburban Conference title, compete in sectionals this week. Submitted photo by Craig Orthmann
Kids always are taught to share growing up. The Rosemount girls' swimming and diving team threw that philosophy out the window this fall.
The Irish won the South Suburban Conference last year. The only problem was, they had to share it with rivals Lakeville North and Prior Lake, as all three teams finished 8-1 in conference action.
That's nothing to complain about, but something to work harder for.
"So it was all-out this year. Everyone wanted it alone this year," Rosemount coach Tami Carlson said.
Mission accomplished. The Irish finished a perfect 9-0 this fall, securing the South Suburban crown outright. But it wasn't without a familiar challenger standing in the way.
Lakeville North ruined Rosemount's bid for conference perfection last season, barely beating the Irish to make it a three-way tie. This year, the girls had their eyes set on that rematch. On Sept. 27, the Irish came out on top by just three points.
"The girls that were returning, they definitely wanted to beat Lakeville North. That was their big thing," Carlson said.
Rosemount started out the meet strong with a victory in the medley relay, a big-point event, by just 0.3 seconds. It set the tone, but it didn't finish the job.
The team continued to perform well throughout the meet, but it wouldn't have been a victory without Katrina Orthmann, a sophomore swimmer who stepped up in a big way.
Rosemount's two divers got sick leading up to the big meet. Carlson believed someone needed to try and take their place to make up for the lost team points. It was Orthmann, who never had competed as a diver in competition, to the rescue. She learned six dives just two days before the meet.
She performed and picked up three points for her team, which ultimately proved to be the difference.
"We were all really, really excited," teammate Olivia Johnston said. "We knew we needed that one."
The journey continued. East Ridge won the True Team section meet by 20 points, but Rosemount ended up being the wildcard, which ultimately gave the Irish a true team state berth.
They finished eighth overall at Class 2A True Team state, and that was without the benefit of tapering. Rosemount knew it wouldn't be competing for the top slots, so coach Carlson decided to keep her girls on their regular training schedules with an eye toward the final section and state meets in November.
Three girls are already at state cut times: freshman Megan Wenman in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle, eighth-grader Katie Garrity in the 500-yard freestyle and Johnston in the breaststroke.
They will need to maintain those numbers through section finals.
Senior captains Kennedy Erdmann, Claire Tolan and Megan Jelisnski also have stepped up in leadership roles.
East Ridge will again be the big section challenger this week. Prelims will be held Wednesday at Richfield, followed by diving Thursday at Cottage Grove. The section finals take place Friday back at Richfield.
"Basically, now it's keeping their confidence up," Carlson said. "They're a very motivated and very driven team. It's a tight group."