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Visitation wins seventh consecutive 1A swimming title, with a twist

By HEATHER RULE, Special to the Star Tribune, 11/16/19, 4:32PM CST


The Blazers relied on their traditional depth to win the meet, and also won an event for the first time since 2016.

Visitation team members posed with their Class 1A trophy after winning the swimming and diving state meet. Photo: Heather Rule, special to the Star Tribune

Visitation, in winning its seventh consecutive Class 1A girls’ state swimming and diving title on Saturday, still accomplished something it hadn’t done since the 2016 state meet.

It won an individual event in the finals.

“On paper it looks good, but you never know until they do it,” Visitation coach Nate Linscheid said.

The team of senior Kali Fischer, senior Elinor Glass, freshman Lucy Berg and senior Ava Hoffman won the first event Saturday, the 200 medley relay (1.45.64), to set the tone at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota.

Kali Fischer, Visitation

“Knowing that we don’t normally win events that often, putting those points on the board, knowing that we won that event was just amazing,” Fischer said.

Visitation led the entire day, relying on its depth to score points in every event except diving, for 318 points. It had three swimmers in the 200 individual medley and two in the 500 free. In all, 12 individuals swam in the finals.

“We were just, again, able to do it with numbers,” Linscheid said. “We knew coming in that if we could just hold steady with where we were, it would end up well for us.”

Hutchinson finished as the runner-up for a third consecutive year, scoring 250 points while winning seven events. Delano and Sauk Centre tied for third with 145 points each.

Grace Hanson, Hutchinson

Hutchinson sophomore Grace Hanson won the 50 free for the third time. She tied the Class 1A record with a 22.79. She said it was her goal to get the state record and “really exciting to actually get on the same time.”

“Obviously the 50’s always close, so I just give it everything I’ve got,” Hanson said. “Honestly, sometimes I close my eyes and I just go.”

Hanson, who also won the 100 free (50.85), swam the first leg of the 400 free relay, an event Hutchinson won for the fourth consecutive year. She and teammates Madison Witte, Hailey Farrell and Lexi Kucera broke their own record from the preliminaries (3:27.06) set Friday with a 3:26.41 in the finals. Hutchinson also won the 200 free relay for the third consecutive year.

Senior Olivia Motter of Rocori, Cold Spring, won the diving title with 418.30 points.

Emma Kern, Delano

Emma Kern’s winning time of 54.94 in the 100 backstroke also set a Class 1A record, beating the previous record of 55.35 set in 2010. The Delano freshman was a bit surprised to look up and see the record fell after she touched the wall, even though she knew going in that it was within reach.

“I knew that it was close,” said Kern, who swam a 55.68 in the preliminaries. “But I knew that I’d have to try my best and really go out fast and come back strong in order for it to actually happen.”

Taylor Williams, Benilde-St. Margaret's

Benilde-St. Margaret’s junior Taylor Williams took home first place in the 200 free for the third consecutive year with a 1:49.89. Williams said she definitely had her eye on a three-peat.

“I always do better when I race, so having the girls around me, it definitely helped me out,” said Williams, who took second in the 100 free, an event she won last year, with a time of 51.80.

State meet records

Class 1A record: 100 backstroke, 54.94, Emma Kern (Delano). Previous record: 55.35 set in 2010 by Caley Oquist (Monticello).

Class 1A record: 400 free relay, 3:26.41, Hutchinson. Grace Hanson, Madison Witte, Hailey Farrell, Lexi Kucera. Previous record: 3:27.06 set Nov. 15, 2019 (prelims) by the same Hutchinson relay team.

Class 1A record: 50 free, 22.79, Grace Hanson (Hutchinson). Ties the previous record of 22.79 set in 2015 by Lindsey Horejsi of Albert Lea.

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