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Wildcat senior Emma Langer swims the breaststroke during the 200 medley relay Thursday, Sept. 6 against Rice Lake. Bob Burrows photos

Depth sparks swimmers to win

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The Wildcat depth was on full display in the first home swim meet of the season Thursday, Sept. 6, as the Cats posted six first place finishes and swept the second through fifth spots in three other events on their way to a 110-60 Big Rivers Conference victory over Rice Lake.

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The Cats took first and third place in all three relay events, and received a pair of first place efforts from junior Leah Morrow in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle races and a victory from Kate Barnes in the 100 butterfly.

"I was hoping for the top spot in all three relays, which could offer a huge point advantage, especially as I thought we'd probably give up a few first place individual events," Wildcat coach Lynn Huiskamp said. "As we were anticipating a few first places going to Rice Lake, we reaffirmed the strategy to pull in second, third and fourth place finishes wherever possible. That combination would tip greater points our way. We were able to do that in three events."

The Cats kicked off the meet on a high note with Kate Barnes, Shannon Moe, Destinee Yang and Morrow winning the 200 medley relay with a time of 2 minutes, 4.47 seconds. Kenzie Morrow, Emma Langer, Kaija Warner and Rachel Holmes took third in 2:09.97.

In the 200 freestyle relay, Barnes, Emily Jilek, Leah Morrow and Mandy Hedeen were first in 1:47.71, while Holmes, Kendra LaCroix, Maria Mishek and Yang finished third in 1:56.8.

Kenzie Morrow, Moe, Hedeen and Jilek combined for a first place time of 4:04.7 in the 400 freestyle relay with Warner, Julia Rydberg, Eva Sigwarth and LaCroix third in 4:24.33.

Leah Morrow won the 50 freestyle in 26.77 seconds with Hedeen second in 27.01. In the 100 freestyle, Leah Morrow won in 58.25 seconds, Jilek was second in 1:01.82 and LaCroix finished third in 1:03.64.

"Leah had some great swims all night, including a spectacular 50 free split in the medley," Huiskamp said. "Now that she's seen that time, I think she will happily reassess some season goals."

Barnes took first in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:06.31 while Moe was second in 1:12.0.

"It's been great to see more focus from Kate this season and for her to pull out a personal best on the fly already will give her more motivation to keep it going," Huiskamp said.

Moe, Jilek and Yang finished second through fourth, respectively, in the 200 individual medley and Mishek, Sarah Weller and Sara Veith took the second through fourth sports in the 500 freestyle while Langer, Hedeen and Claire Goblirsch finished two-three-four in the 100 breaststroke.

Huiskamp said the team put in four weeks of intense practice before school started, and said the experience and leadership of the seniors and captains -- Hedeen, Rydberg and Veith -- has already made an impact.

"I'm very anxious to see some of these bonds strengthen as we move into the core of the season," the coach said. "We have many things to improve upon and many tough practice sets ahead. A well-bonded team can find the heart and energy to push positively through boundaries and know the reward on the other side will be there."

Wildcat swimmers next compete at Menomonie Thursday, Sept. 13.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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