Minnetonka swimmers celebrated after winning first place in the 200 yard freestyle relay at the 2017 state meet. Left to right, Nicole Burg, Abby Kapeller, Emily Haan and Ellie Schini. Burg and Schini are back at state this year. Star Tribune file photo
Minnetonka girls’ swimming and diving coach Dan Berve said at the start of the season that how quickly his young squad developed would be a key factor in its success.
Highlighted by a strong freshmen class, Minnetonka appears to be progressing on schedule. The Skippers, who have finished either second or third place in the past five state Class 2A state meets, qualified 22 individuals and all three relay teams for this year’s meet, which begins Wednesday at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus.
Seven of the Skippers’ state meet qualifiers are freshmen. Only two are seniors.
“This year has been a lot of fun,” Berve said. “Our captains have done a really good job of showing how we do things.
“They’ve been good leaders, not only in the pool, but out of it.”
Leading the Skippers’ freshmen contingent are Regan Miller and Nadia Helm, who each qualified for the state meet in two individual events, and Addie Diaz, who won the 500-yard freestyle and was second in the 200 freestyle at the Section 2 meet. Miller has also qualified in two relays and Helm in one.
Seniors Ellie Schini (two individual events and one relay) and Faith Robinson (diving), and juniors Nicole Burg and Ashley Frankwitz, who each qualified in two individual events and two relays, also lead the Skippers.
“We’ve got a balanced group. All of our classes have contributed,” Berve said. “Our juniors have been fantastic. Ashley had a great section meet.”
The Skippers’ 200 and 400 freestyle relays each have the top qualifying time for the state meet and their 200 medley relay had the third-best qualifying time.
The Skippers won the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays and finished second in the 400 freestyle relay at last year’s state meet.
“I’ve always thought that it starts with how tough our conference and section meets are,” Berve said. “The younger kids have done everything we’ve asked. A lot of this is new for them. But they’ve been taking it in stride.”
The Skippers, who were ranked No. 2 in Class 2A during the regular season, will compete for the state title against Lake Conference rivals Edina and Wayzata, who have combined to win the past eight Class 2A state championships.
Top-ranked Edina, which has won the past two state meets, qualified 27 individuals and all three relays. Wayzata qualified 13 individuals and three relays.
Only three individual champions return in Class 2A — Edina’s Megan Phillip (diving), Hopkins’ Molly Meland (100 butterfly) and St. Michael-Albertville’s Emma Lezer (100 breaststroke).
Visitation goes for sixth 1A title in row
In the Class 1A state meet, Visitation will be vying for its sixth consecutive state title.
Four individual champions return — Benilde-St. Margaret’s Taylor Williams (200 freestyle), Hutchinson’s Grace Hanson (50 freestyle) and Lexi Kucera (100 freestyle) and Breck’s Saylor Hawkins (diving).
The state meet is being held at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota. Prepspotlight.tv will be webstreaming the meet on Thursday and Friday.
• Diving preliminaries, 6 pm
• Swimming preliminaries, 6 pm
• Swimming & diving finals, 6 pm
• Diving preliminaries, noon
• Swimming preliminaries, noon
• Swimming & diving finals, noon