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The Stillwater girls swimming and diving team celebrates its 20th consecutive Section 4AA championship on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Stillwater Middle School. The Ponies outscored runner-up Woodbury 627-468.5 for their latest title. (Contributed photo)

On the strength of victories in 11 of 12 events, the Stillwater girls swimming and diving team cruised to the Section 4AA championship on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Stillwater Middle School.

Stillwater totaled 627 points to outdistance runner-up Woodbury (468.5) and third-place Mounds View (321).

“The whole team stepped up, which is good,” Ponies coach Brian Luke said.

It was the 20th consecutive section crown for the Ponies, who also earned 17 entries for this week’s Class AA state meet. The state meet, which is held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, began with diving preliminaries and semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 18 and continues with swimming prelims on Nov. 19 and finals on Nov. 20.

Stillwater will be represented in all 12 events at state, including two entries each in the 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 breastroke. It was an impressive showing when you consider Woodbury was added to the section this season. The Royals, who finished second behind the Ponies in the Suburban East Conference, joined Stillwater and Woodbury in this year’s True Team state field as well.

“I didn’t go through event by event, but times that would have gotten in the top 16 last year weren’t even in the same zip code this year,” Luke said. “It may have been that it was a pandemic year, but Woodbury did add to that because they have some very good swimmers and divers there. It’s a good section.”

Luke said the Ponies didn’t establish a blistering pace in the prelims on Thursday, but were able to advance into the correct heat for the finals on Saturday.

“In the finals they did come back and really did a great job,” said Luke, who has now coached teams to a whopping 40 section championships if you include those achieved while coaching the Stillwater boys team.

The Ponies started quickly with a victory and a section record in the 200 medley relay as Eva Johns, Maddie Reed, Lucy Siedschlag and Norah Naatjes combined for a time of 1:51.43.

Sydney Dettmann followed in the 200 freestyle with the first of her two victories, finishing with a time of 1:52.33. She also prevailed in the 500 freestyle with a time 5:07.95, just ahead of teammate Anika Wright (5:10.53).

The top two individuals and relay teams in each swimming event qualify for state, along with those achieving the state qualifying standard.

Dettmann, Johns, Naatjes, Reed and Ellie Kill will each qualified for state in four events.

Maddie Reed (2:07.50) and Naatjes (2:08.90) finished 1-2 in the 200 individual medley while Johns (23.55) and Kill (25.04) swept the top two spots in the 50 freestyle.

Johns also finished first in the 100 backstroke with a time of 55.49. Sarah Doeksen (59.47) also advanced to state with a runner-up finish in the event.

The backstroke was a dominant event for the Ponies as Bella Chau (1:00.47) and Sophia Chau (1:01.10) followed in the third and fourth spots.

A determined Lucy Siedschlag claimed a victory in the 100 butterfly wit a time of 58.97, just ahead of Woodbury’s Ava Reich (59.12).

“That was like a two-and-a-half second drop,” Luke said.

Siedschlag was disqualified in the 50 freestyle, but didn’t let that affect her with an inspired performance in the butterfly.

“She just sprung right back and came back and won the fly,” Luke said.

That resilience is likely one of the reasons she joined Johns in getting recognized as the co-Section 4AA Swimmer of the Meet as voted on by the section coaches.

Kill also qualified for state with a victory in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.40.

Maddie Reed (1:05.38) and Naatjes (1:06.96) also advanced to state while occupying the top two spots in the 100 breastroke.

Stillwater will also be represented at state in diving by freshman Maya Kelly, who placed third with a score of 364.25. The top four finishers advance to state in diving.

The Ponies also had some near misses with third-place finishers in five events. Margaret Reed landed third in the both the 200 freestyle (1:57.09) and 100 butterfly (1:01.03) while Jayla Petersen finished third in the 100 breastroke (1:11.15).

The Ponies won comfortably in the 200 and 400 freestyle races. Naatjes, Siedschlag, Kill and Dettmann turned in a winning time of 1:38.71 in the 200 freestyle relay while Johns, Maddie Reed, Kill and Dettmann won the 400 freestyle relay in 3:33.96, more than 7.5 seconds ahead of the runner-up team from Woodbury (3:41.63).

But not all of the achievements resulted in a spot in the state meet, Luke suggested. He credited the seniors for their strong performances throughout the lineup, including Rachael Steele, who finished fifth in the 200 (1:59.24) and 500 (5:24.89) freestyle events.

“That was her first section meet,” Luke said of Steele. “She’s labored for six years and really put it together this year and finished with two section medals and both were lifetime bests. All the seniors, I thought, it was cool for them to do what they did.”

He said support from team members who aren’t even competing in the section meet is also impressive to see.

“You just appreciate what they do,” Luke said. “The JV is helping and timing and the whole team is just doing cool stuff, even kids who weren’t in the meet. As a coach you just go, that’s pretty impressive.”

Team standings

1. Stillwater 627; 2. Woodbury 468.5; 3. Mounds View 321.5; 4. Roseville 250; 5. White Bear Lake 147; 6. Tartan 101; 7. North St. Paul 52.

Individual results

200 medley relay — *#1. Stillwater (Eva Johns, Maddie Reed, Lucy Siedschlag and Norah Naatjes) 1:46.69; *2. Mounds View, 1:51.43.

200 freestyle — *1. Sydney Dettmann (St) 1:52.33; *2. Maya Tellez (Wo) 1:56.07; 3. Margaret Reed (St) 1:57.09; 5. Rachael Steele (St) 1:59.24; 8. Sophia Chau (St) 2:02.95.

200 individual medley — *1. Maddie Reed (St) 2:07.50; *2. Norah Naatjes (St) 2:08.90; 5. Jayla Petersen (St) 2:19.57; Anika Wright (St) DQ.

50 freestyle — *1. Eva Johns (St) 23.55; *2. Ellie Kill (St) 25.04; 5. Annie Gritters (St) 25.78; Lucy Siedschlag (St) DQ.

Diving — *1. Gabby Mauder (Wo) 452.90; *2. Darah Ostrom (MV) 382.90; *3. Maya Kelly (St) 364.25; *4. Gianna McLeod (St) 356.95; 11. Madelyn Puhrmann (St) 303.80; 13. Kaia Bjork (St) 280.05; 14. Kate Jentink (St) 275.00.

100 butterfly — *1. Lucy Siedschlag (St) 58.97; *2. Ava Reich (Wo) 59.12; 3. Margaret Reed (St) 1:01.03; 7. Lucy Paczosa (St) 1:02.61; 10. Hailey Schmit (St) 1:04.11.

100 freestyle — *1. Ellie Kill (St) 54.40; *2. Alana Schmitzer (MV) 54.75; 3. Abby Hansen (St) 55.05; 4. Rhiannon Fay (St) 55.11; 8. Annie Gritters (St) 56.76.

500 freestyle — *1. Sydney Dettmann (St) 5:07.95; *2. Anika Wright (St) 5:10.53; 5. Rachael Steele (St) 5:24.89; 6. Alison Poole (St) 5:26.99.

200 freestyle relay — *1. Stillwater (Norah Naatjes, Lucy Siedschlag, Ellie Kill and Sydney Dettmann) 1:38.71; *2. Woodbury, 1:41.22.

100 backstroke — *1. Eva Johns (St) 55.49; *2. Sarah Doeksen (St) 59.47; 3. Bella Chau (St) 1:00.47; 4. Sophia Chau (St) 1:01.10.

100 breastroke — *1. Maddie Reed (St) 1:05.38; *2. Norah Naatjes (St) 1:06.96; 3. Jayla Petersen (St) 1:11.15; 6. Ella Busch (St) 1:12.99.

400 freestyle relay — *1. Stillwater (Eva Johns, Maddie Reed, Ellie Kill and Sydney Dettmann (St) 3:33.96; *2. Woodbury, 3:41.63.

* State qualifier

# Meet record

Ponies win JV conference

Stillwater cruised to a comfortable victory in the JV conference meet on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Stillwater Middle School, outdistancing runner-up Forest Lake 676-368 for the title. Mounds View (339) held off Cretin-Derham Hall (335) for third place while White Bear Lake followed in fifth with 126 points.

This was the sixth straight victory in the JV conference meet for Stillwater, which has also won 24 of the last 25 JV conference meets that have been conducted. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19. The other five conference teams participated in a similar JV conference meet at Oltman Middle School.

The Ponies finished first in all 11 swimming events, led by seniors and double-winners Adelee Wrightsman (200 and 500 freestyle), Julianna Silva (200 individual medley, 100 backstroke) and Luci Miller (50 and 100 freestyle).

Stillwater also received victories from Shaeffer Watson in the 100 butterfly and Sophia Omann in the 100 breastroke.

The seniors really stepped it up,” Ponies coach Brian Luke said. “On 95 percent of the teams in the state, (Wrightsman) would have been on the section team. It wasn’t due to lack of effort. That’s really good when seniors go out like that.”

Stillwater really showed off its depth in the relays, occupying the top three spots in the 200 medley relay, the top four in the 200 freestyle relay and the top six finishes in the 400 freestyle relay.

The Ponies also swept the top nine places in the 200 individual medley, the top eight in the 100 breastroke, the top seven in the 200 freestyle and the top six in the 500 freestyle.

“It bodes well for the future,” Luke said. “We should be OK for at least the next couple of years.”

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