17 August 2013

Girls Swimming: Stong senior class buoy hopes

Kaitlyn O'Reilly all-state in two events in 2012 (photo by Jim Lindquist)
With 24 letterwinners returning from a team that finished third in the Missota Conference and fourth at the Section 1AA Championships last year, Tiger coach Jen Marshall feels she has the personnel for another successful season.

"Chanhassen and Northfield didn't lose many people from last year and the conference should look much the same," she said. "We are also looking at a top three finish in Section 1AA."

Ten of the 24 returning swimmers and divers are from a strong senior class and include Katie Aaron, Nikki Cayard, Sydney Geiger, Chloe Holton, Abby Kampa, Sara Kintner, Courtney L'Heureux, Kaitlyn O'Reilly, Cora Ruzicka and Hannah Seitzinger.

O'Reilly will be wrapping up a brilliant career that already includes three straight trips to the state meet. Last fall she earned all-state honors in both the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

"Her goal is to be state champion in the IM," Marshall said, "and I believe she will put the work in to attain it. November is a long way off and lots of things can happen between now and then."

Cora Ruzicka swam in two relays at state last season (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Ruzicka also competed in the state meet last season, swimming a leg on both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Underclassmen returning include juniors Katie King, Kirsten Kracke, Kendall Novak, Ellie Sundet and Hanna Sundt; sophomores Kaylee Dahlberg, Chelsea Gehrke, Emily Ley and Tori Sontag; freshman Emily Krook and eighth-graders Lexie Bray, Caroline Cummings, Catherine Gehrke and Grace Roach.

Kracke swam on two relay teams at state last season where she also tied for 18th in the 100 freestyle.

"Kirsten is looking to qualify for state in one, if not two, individual events," Marshall said."I expect her to make the finals after the experience she gained there last year.

"We would also like to get two relay teams back to state. Which two have yet to be determined."

Kirsten Kracke finished 18th in 100 freestyle at state (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Newcomers expected to push the returnees for varsity positions, include freshmen Katie Anderson, Allison Kjellberg and Paige LeTourneau and eighth-graders Amanda Cavanaugh, Shannon Newman and Jessi Witherill.

Marshall said she especially likes this year's team's leadership, work ethic and camaraderie and is hoping those attributes will translate to success in the water.

Chanhassen and Northfield were Marshall's pre-season picks to lead the chase for Missota Conference honors with Rochester John Marshall and Hastings likely to battle it out for the Section 1AA title.

Former Tiger standout Joe Velaski returns as varsity assistant coach with John Tegg working with the
Tiger divers. Boys' varsity coach Ryan Hamen will work with the middle school team.

The Tigers open their 2013 season next Friday when they travel to Northfield for the annual Missota Conference Relays.