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Girls Swimming: Miller's dive highlights Wingers' night

Red Wing freshman Polina Duchelle races down her lane during the 50-yard freestyle in Thursday's Missota Conference meet against Chanhassen at Twin Bluff Middle School. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing's Ingrid Olson swims the backstroke leg of the Wingers' 200-yard medley relay team during Thursday's meet with Chanhassen at Twin Bluff Middle School. The Wingers lost to the sixth-ranked Storm, 97-78. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

Red Wing senior Lydia Miller knows that diving is as much of a mental sport as it is a physical sport. And back in the Wingers’ last home meet on Sept. 26, Miller’s confidence was jarred when she hit her right hand on the diving board during an attempt.

“It was kind of a mental roadblock,” said Miller, who still sports wrap around her hand from the mishap. “It’s scary to think that one time I did that, and then the next time that I dive, it could happen again.”

The injury still has bearing, but that hasn’t affected the Red Wing veteran. During Thursday’s home finale against Chanhassen, Miller finished in a tie with the Storm’s Bridgette Grobe for first place in the 1-meter dive with a score of 177.85.

“It was really nice to hear that I got first because it’s my last meet that I’m ever going to have here,” Miller said following Thursday’s meet at Twin Bluff Middle School. “It was a surprise because (Grobe), I thought she was a lot better than me. It’s definitely a self-esteem booster.”

Miller’s toughness over the past couple weeks has left an impression on the Red Wing coaching staff.

“I’m really glad she was voted a captain this year because she really is a competitor,” said Wingers’ head coach Kevin O’Brien. “That’s something we really need on this team.”

Miller’s performance was the highlight for a rough night for Red Wing as sixth-ranked (2A) Chanhassen cruised to a 97-78 Missota Conference victory.

The Storm proved its merit by breaking three pool records. The 200-yard medley relay team of Zoe Avestruz, Bridgette Grobe, Kaia Grobe and Shelby Holmes set a record in the first varsity race with a time of 1 minute, 50.31 seconds. Then late in the meet, Avestruz, Kylie Dahlgren, Holmes and Kaia Grobe set a new pool record in the 200 freestyle relay (1:38.96), and Avestruz set a new pool benchmark in the 100 backstroke (57.55).

“Going against Chanhassen is really tough; they broke three of our pool records tonight and it’s tough to compete with that,” O’Brien said.

But with it being the last home meet of the year, O’Brien and the rest of the Red Wing lineup weren’t going to hang their heads. After the meet, the Red Wing coaches hopped in the pool with the rest of the team to help lighten the mood.

“They performed well tonight,” said O’Brien, still dripping water after a dip in the pool. “They had some good times, and some times close to their best times even though we’re at the toughest part of the season.

“It was a good night even if the score didn’t indicate it.”

Senior Ashley Thompson and sophomore Ingrid Olson each had a pair of second-place finishes. Thompson was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:28.58) and 100 breaststroke (1:15.04), while Olson took second in the 50 freestyle (26.63) and 100 backstroke (1:06.84).

The duo were also a part of the Wingers’ top relay team as Olson, Thompson, Polina Duchelle and Claire King, who returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s meet in Simley, took second in the 200 medley relay at 2:04.08.

On the road for the rest of the season, Red Wing has its final dual meet of the year next Thursday at River Falls. Then on Oct. 26, the Wingers close the regular season at the Missota Conference championship meet in Shakopee.

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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