Swimming: Red Wing's Nemanich, Thompson are state boundAUSTIN – The Red Wing coaching staff waited anxiously for the time to flash across the screen Friday at the Section 1A swimming and diving finals at Ellis Middle School.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
AUSTIN – The Red Wing coaching staff waited anxiously for the time to flash across the screen Friday at the Section 1A swimming and diving finals at Ellis Middle School.
Ashley Thompson got off to a great start but had a tough first turn in the 100-yard breaststroke before making up time with a flawless third turn and final 50 yards, Red Wing head coach Kevin O’Brien said. As she touched the wall, Thompson hoped for a time less than 1 minute, 10.07 seconds, the state cut time. And that’s exactly what she saw at 1:09.99.
“My mind kind of goes blank when I swim,” Thompson, a junior for the Wingers, said. “I thought my first turn was pretty bad. I just put it out of my mind because you want those things to distract you. … I was just hoping that I got a state time and I was really excited.”
“It was nail-biting as she finished because we knew it was close,” O’Brien added. “My coach, manager and I erupted with excitement.”
She will be joined by teammate Amy Nemanich at the state meet. Nemanich, a senior, qualified without as much drama in the 500 freestyle, taking second place in 5:33.38. Both Thompson and Nemanich put forth personal record times at Friday’s meet.
The top two swimmers in each event at finals move on to state, along with any times under the state cut time.
“It was always my goal to go to state and just reaching that goal is really exciting for me,” Nemanich said.
O’Brien was pleased to see two team leaders secure their lowest times at the best possible moment.
“They deserved it,” O’Brien said of Thompson and Nemanich. “They’re probably our two hardest workers on the team. It was nice to see Amy get in on her senior year.”
Nemanich also took eighth place in the 200 freestyle, and Thompson was fourth in the 200 individual medley in 2:18.13.
The Wingers finished sixth overall in the team competition as Northfield took first place for the fourth consecutive year.
Red Wing ninth-grader Ingrid Olson just missed the state qualifying time of 25.09 seconds in the 50 freestyle, taking eighth place in 25.34 seconds.
“She was very close,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully she’ll get that next year.”
Olson took 12th in the 100 freestyle in 57.79 seconds.
The Wingers’ 200 medley relay was close to state cut time, finishing .9 away in 1:56.13. Red Wing’s 200 freestyle relay team was also within 1.11 seconds of qualifying in 1:44.12.
“Everybody swam really well,” O’Brien said. “It was a really positive group of girls. They deserved to drop time like they did.”
Hannah Kolsky finished 11th for the Wingers in the 200 freestyle and 16th in the 100 freestyle. Sydney Steger was seventh in the 100 backstroke in 1:07.07 and Jess Kolsky took 10th in the 1-meter diving competition, moving up two spots from preliminary competition.
Claire King, originally disqualified from the 100 butterfly after prelims Wednesday, was allowed back into the finals after no reason was recorded by officials, O’Brien said. King finished in 10th place in 1:06.4.
“She wasn’t in the meet this morning, but she ended up getting 10th and second in her heat,” O’Brien said. “That was really cool. You always wonder how girls will do in situations like that, not being mentally prepared. It was really nice to see her end the season on a 1:06.”
Nina Kriese dropped nearly three seconds off her preliminary time in the 500 freestyle to finish in 6:02.
Despite going to state last season in the 200 medley relay, Thompson is simply happy to get the opportunity as an individual. As a senior, Nemanich feels the same way.
“Even though I might not place in the top 16, it’s still an honor to be there,” Thompson said.
“I’ll be happy with however I do,” Nemanich added.
The Class 1A girls state swimming and diving meet will take place Nov. 15-17 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.