Abby Kapeller of Minnetonka is the Star Tribune metro girl’s swimmer of the year for 2019. Photo: JEFF WHEELER • Jeff.Wheeler@startribune.com
Being thrust into the state meet spotlight early in her prep career proved a bit overwhelming for Abby Kapeller, but she handled it as a champion last month.
The Minnetonka junior had a hand in four first-place finishes for the runner-up Skippers in the Class 2A girls’ swimming state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
“Abby has always had the physical tools,” Skippers coach Dan Berve said. “It can take time to develop emotionally. She now has both of those things in sync.”
Kapeller won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.60 seconds — six hundredths of a second off the all-time state record set by Rachel Wittmer of Eden Prairie in 2015 — and the 100 backstroke in 53.72.
Her state meet started by swimming the opening leg of the Skippers’ victorious 200 medley relay team and ended with anchoring the winning 400 freestyle relay squad.
“I was exhausted,” Kapeller said. “It was a long, fun day.”
Kapeller swam with the Skippers’ 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams as a freshman but struggled in her individual events. She qualified for her first state meet as an eighth-grader, then skipped her sophomore season to swim with the Aquajets club team.
“I was super frustrated with my performance in the state meet those two years,” Kapeller said. “I thought it was in my best interest to do club. I base my decisions on what I think is the right thing to do at the time.”
Kapeller, who has verbally commited to Virgnia, also showed her decision to resume competing at the high school level was the right one.
“Abby really matured over the last year,” said Berve, who announced his resignation this fall. “She was really good in the preliminaries, and even better in the finals. She was phenomenal.”