Swimmers, divers 3rd at SimleyWildcat girls’ swim coach Lynn Huiskamp wasn’t disappointed with the Wildcats’ first Big Rivers Conference loss of the season Thursday, especially when the Cats traveled to St. Paul two days later and took third place at the Simley Invitational.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
Wildcat girls’ swim coach Lynn Huiskamp wasn’t disappointed with the Wildcats’ first Big Rivers Conference loss of the season Thursday, especially when the Cats traveled to St. Paul two days later and took third place at the Simley Invitational.
“This meet, despite the loss, was a very affirming and upbeat meet for our team,” Huiskamp said after the Cats’ 111-75 loss to the Raiders. “We knew Hudson had gained significant speed in their team this season and were mentally well prepared to greet them. We had great teamwork aimed at getting all points possible after the many first places we knew would go to Hudson.”
The highlight of the night for River Falls was senior diver Sierra Becker setting a new school and pool record to win the 6-dive competition with a score of 252.45. Becker and Hudson’s Amanda Baker have emerged as two of the top divers in the conference, and the pair put on quite a show Thursday night with Baker scoring 233.35 to place second.
“I’m sure Sierra and Amanda will continue to dive neck and neck all season, and always provide spectators with fantastic diving,” Wildcat diving coach Roxie VanDeWater said. “The diving was certainly some of the best in the whole state, and it was exciting to see such great diving by both teams.”
Becker’s score Thursday night was only four points away from the BRC record.
The Cats’ only other first place finish on the night came in the 200 yard freestyle relay, where Sofia Carlson, Leah Morrow, Shannon Moe and Mandy Hedeen teamed up for a winning time of 1 minute, 48.3 seconds.
The Wildcats had three of the top four finishers in the 100 backstroke, with Kate Barnes second with a season-best time of 1:10.24, Morrow third in 1:12.27 and Maura Watson fourth in 1:15.76. They grabbed three of the top five spots in the 100 freestyle where Hedeen finished second in 1:00.42, Carlson was fourth in 1:02.47 and Hannah Barringer-Kenny placed fifth in 1:03.37.
Huiskamp said the swimmers in the medley relays all dropped times in their splits, particularly Kate Barnes’ 50 back split of 30.8 seconds and Morrow’s freestyle split of 26.23 seconds. She said captain Laura Barnes’ 50 breast split and sophomore Kaija Warner’s 50 back split were also personal bests.
“Not only did our women swim with great heart and determination, they smashed many personal goals,” Huiskamp said. “No team or coach enjoys a loss, but how we go after our opportunity for improvement can make our competitions great, regardless of the outcome.”
Saturday the Cats received a first-place performance from the 200 medley relay team of Julia Rydberg, Katie Kidd, Carlson and Morrow, and second place performances from Morrow in the 100 backstroke and Becker in diving to finish third at the seven-team Simley Invitational.
“The Simley Invite this year was totally unique with the addition of typical long event, college events of the mile (1,650), 200’s of all strokes, 400 IM, and long distance relays,” Huiskamp pointed out. “This always works to our advantage as we have the depth and ability to swim all challenges.”
The Cats’ 200 medley relay team posted a first place time of 2:04.15 while Morrow finished second in the 100 backstroke in 1:12.29 with Rydberg right behind in third place with a personal best time of 1:13.94.
Becker and Hudson’s Baker continued their rivalry in the diving competition with Baker taking first with an 11-dive score of 375.65 and Becker second with 352.95. Hudson finished first at the invite with 602 points followed by Orono with 532 and River Falls with 473.
Kidd swam back-to-back in three of her four events, swimming the breaststroke portion of the 200 and 400 medley relays, then after a brief rest, coming back to post a season-best time of 2:32.46 to finish third.
“Our upper class women have the confidence and mental toughness to do what the team needs, and Katie knew she was placed where she could get us the most points,” Huiskamp said. “It’s a great example to the rest of the team.”
The Cats will host Menomonie this Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the high school pool. They will wrap up the regular season the following Tuesday, Oct. 18, at home against Red Wing, Minn.