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Girls Swimming: Thompson moves on

Red Wing junior Ashley Thompson glides through the water during her qualifying heat in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class 1A state swimming championship meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Thompson qualified for Saturday's consolation final with a time of 1 minute, 10.27 seconds. Photo by Joe Brown1 / 2
Red Wing senior Amy Nemanich heads down the lane during her heat in the 500-yard freestyle in the Class 1A state swimming championship at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Nemanich finished 18th with a time of 5 minutes, 35.09 seconds.2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS - Three years ago, Ashley Thompson's debut at the Class 1A state swimming championship ended very briefly.

Going into the 2009 state meet as an eighth-grader, Thompson competed in the 100-yard breaststroke, taking 21st place out of 30 swimmers.

Fast-forward three years, and the Wingers junior gets to stick around for one more day.

On Friday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Thompson snuck into the consolation championship of the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 10.27 seconds. Her time was just .53 seconds faster than St. Louis Park's Emmi Zheng, who clinched the last spot in the consolation championship.

"At first, I saw my time and thought that I wouldn't make it," Thompson said. "Then I saw I got 14th, and I looked up at everyone we had up in the stands and I had a big smile on my face."

Thompson's time on Friday was just a shade higher than her state-qualifying time at the Section 1A championship meet, where she swam a time of 1:09.99. But Red Wing head coach Kevin O'Brien saw Thompson make strides in her preparation for state.

"Her turns timed out much better this time," O'Brien said. "She really got into a rhythm there. ... She did what she had to do out there to make it."

"With my turns," Thompson added, "I was happy we were able to fix them. It was nice coming out of them faster than I was."

During the 100 breaststroke prelims, state history was made when Albert Lea freshman Lindsey Horejsi broke the previous state record with a time of 1:00.43.

While she is out of medal contention, Thompson is looking for one more strong swim to end the season on a high note, and have a new milestone to shoot for next season.

"It's just a relief that I made it to Saturday," she said. "I'm really excited for it.

Nemanich 18th in

500 freestyle

During the Section 1A championship last week, Red Wing senior Amy Nemanich pulled off an incredible feat by cutting eight seconds off her season-best time in the 500-yard freestyle to qualify for the state meet.

In Friday's qualifying heat in the 500 freestyle, Nemanich still kept up her strong stroke, but was unable to get into the top 16, finishing 18th with a time of 5 minutes, 35.09 seconds.

For much of the race, Nemanich was able to keep up a consistent pace, averaging 32.9 seconds in seven turns. But in the last 150 yards, exhaustion set it as Nemanich's average dropped to 34.9 seconds.

"She was tapered and she was looking good early on," O'Brien said. "The last 150, she just ran out of gas."

Said Nemanich, "I didn't feel more tired. The races always feel the same at the end; you're exhausted. You just always have to try your hardest."

Taking the top seed in the 500 freestyle was Chisago Lakes' Thomasin Lee, who finished in 5:05.02. The final championship spot was at 5:18.50, and the last spot in the consolation finals came at 5:28.18.

With her late-season improvements, Nemanich wasn't going to hang her head about her high school career coming to an end on Friday.

"I'm just really glad it ended well," Nemanich said. "For other girls, it doesn't always end that well, so I'm glad it did for me."

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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