MINNEAPOLIS — An inspired performance lifted the Stillwater girls swimming and diving team into third place in the Class AA True Team state meet on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.
It matched the team’s showing a year ago, but it took an across the board effort for the Ponies to hold onto that spot on the podium.
Minnetonka outlasted Wayzata 2,427.5-2,360.5 to defend its championship, while the Ponies totaled 2,036.5 point to overtake fourth-place Edina (1,924.5).
“We were really excited to get third,” Ponies coach Brian Luke said. “I thought that was a legitimate goal for us going into the meet. We did close in on first and second, but they had good meets, too, and they were swimming well.”
Woodbury finished fifth with 1,549 points to give the Suburban East Conference two teams among the top five.
“It was nice to have two conference schools in the top five,” Luke said. “It bodes well for what we’re trying to do over here.”
Stillwater, which has qualified for True Team state each year since its inception in 2004, has now placed fourth or better in 17 of the 18 years the meet has been conducted. The Ponies won six straight True Team state titles from 2004 to 2009 and added another title in 2011. They have never placed lower than fifth at this meet.
“We’re really proud of that,” Luke said. “We had a long streak we were first and then we got the old fourth-place slot behind Minnetonka, Wayzata and Edina and finally last year we busted through and got third. It’s fun to be up there and we’re lucky we can do that stuff.
But there was nothing predictable about Stillwater’s path to the podium this year. The Ponies trailed Edina by 229 points entering the meet based on seed times, but made up that difference and then some while finishing 112 points ahead of the Hornets.
“It would be in that top group of any meets I’ve been a part of at Stillwater,” Luke said.
That is a strong statement when you consider the hall-of-fame coach, now in his 48th season leading the Stillwater girls and boys programs, has coached more than 1,500 meets in his career.
“It was just a classic example of a total team effort where everybody who came into that meet planning to make the team better and it paid off, even the kids who were not swimming in the meet,” Luke said. “It just grew and grew and grew.”
Stillwater collected three first-place finishes in the meet, including the 400 freestyle relay to finish it off. Anika Wright, Lucy Paczosa, Norah Naatjes and Sydney Dettmann turned in a winning time of 3:30.93 to finish more than two seconds ahead of the runner-up team from Chanhassen (3:33.17). Stillwater’s B relay also delivered an impressive performance with Margaret Reed, Sophia Chau, Reese Bilot and Lucy Siedschlag placing seventh in a time of 3:40.94.
“That second 400 freestyle relay went 3:40,” Luke said. “I wasn’t really adding them up, but just looking at the splits — a week ago our A relay couldn’t do that so that was crazy. I just said to (diving coach Carrie Madline when she came over), they’ve been doing that all day. And then the A relay comes up and wins that thing going away.”
In addition to anchoring that final relay, Dettmann finished first in the 200 freestyle (1:52.64) and second in the 500 freestyle (5:00.04). Maddie Reed added another victory for the Ponies in the 100 breastroke with a time of 1:04.41, just ahead of third-place teammate Norah Naatjes (1:06.43).
The Ponies were strong at the top and throughout the lineup, which is what’s required in this 12-team meet where all four of a team’s entries are scored.
“The relays really stepped it up,” Luke said. “You’re gaining a lot of points in those relays because the points are doubled. You can really pile it up on those C and D relays and the third and fourth kids are gaining the points. If our fourth kid is seeded 32nd and they got 20th, that’s 12 points. The gains are all being done on those third and fourth kids and relays. Everybody scores, so there’s no such thing as unimportant.”
Eighth-grader Lucy Paczosa contributed to a strong showing for the Ponies in the sprints by tying for fifth place in the 50 freestyle (24.30) and placing third in the 100 freestyle (53.27). Lucy Siedschlag (24.69) and Jayla Petersen (24.94) finished 10th and 11th in the 50 freestyle and Petersen tied for 11th in the 100 freestyle.
The performances were notable when you consider those were events with some question marks coming into the season after graduating 18 seniors a year ago.
“Six weeks ago we didn’t have any sprinters and it was like you shook a tree and they just fell out and now we have this plethora of sprinters,” Luke said. “It’s funny how things can change. Hopefully we can keep going in the direction we’re going and finish up pretty well.”
Stillwater placed three swimmers among the top eight in the 200 individual medley, led by Maddie Reed in second place with a time of 2:06.39. Wright tied for sixth place with a time of 2:09.73 and Naatjes followed in eighth with a time of 2:09.86.
Stillwater put all four of its entries in the top 20 in the 500 freestyle, led by Dettmann in the runner-up spot. Wright finished seventh in a time of 5:12.85 while Alison Poole (5:23.80) and Annika Beck (5:29.45) placed 15th and 20th.
It was Beck’s season best in the event by more than seven seconds while Poole eclipsed her seed time of 5:40.00 by more than 16 seconds.
“Alison Poole dropped like 17 seconds and won that heat by like a full length,” Luke said.
The tone was set early for the Ponies, which was apparent by the number of high finishes coming from the outside lanes.
“I always tell my backstrokers, you’re the first people to hit the water (in the medley relay) so step it up,” Luke said. “I learned that from my dad, you’re the first person going into the water for us so what you’re doing kind of spreads.
“It’s one of those things when a team gets on a roll. It just starts rolling and the waves get bigger and bigger and then they start feeding off each other and getting faster and faster. It’s just really fun to watch and it was top to bottom. Every single kid completely stepped it up and the kids who were not in the meet were cheering and congratulating and getting everyone’s adrenaline going. It was a complete team effort and it culminated in them getting on the podium.”
The Ponies (8-0 SEC, 8-0) wrapped up the regular season at Forest Lake on Oct. 27 and will host the Section 4AA Meet on Nov. 10-12. Stillwater will also host the JV Conference Meet on Saturday, Nov. 5.
1. Minnetonka 2,427.5; 2. Wayzata 2,360.5; 3. Stillwater 2,036.5; 4. Edina 1,924.5; 5. Woodbury 1,549; 6. Sartell-St. Stephen 1,498.5; 7. Rosemount 1,137.5; 8. Chanhassen 1,105.5; 9. Lakeville North 1,059; 10. Moorhead 1,034; 11. Anoka 824; 12. Robbinsdale Armstrong 605.5.
200 medley relay — 1, tie, Minnetonka A 1:45.08 and Wayzata A 1:45.08; 4. Stillwater A (Sophia Chau, Maddie Reed, Lucy Siedschlag and Norah Naatjes) 1:49.94; 15. Stillwater B (Sarah Doeksen, Julia Petersen, Margaret Reed and Jayla Petersen) 1:54.31; 23. Stillwater C (Grace Ganser, Audrey Serres, Hailey Schmit and Rhiannon Fay) 1:58.34; 27. Stillwater D (Jayden Kemp, Gaby Miller, Hannah Drexel and Reese Bilot) 2:00.87.
200 freestyle — 1. Sydney Dettmann (St) 1:52.64; 9. Margaret Reed (St) 1:57.64; 21. Alison Poole (St) 2:03.02; 25. Reese Bilot (St) 2:05.74.
200 individual medley — 1. Katie McCarthy (Ed) 2:04.11; 2. Maddie Reed (St) 2:06.39; T6. Anika Wright (St) 2:09.73; 8. Norah Naatjes (St) 2:09.86; 23. Julia Petersen (St) 2:21.51.
50 freestyle — 1. Libbi McCarthy (Ed) 24.02; T5. Lucy Paczosa (St) 24.30; 10. Lucy Siedschlag (St) 24.69; 11. Jayla Petersen (St) 24.94; 34. Rhiannon Fay (St) 26.63.
Diving — 1. Gabby Mauder (Wo) 455.65; 5. Maya Kelly (St) 389.10; 22. Kaia Bjork (St) 127.05; 27. Alex Kruse (St) 114.45; 29. Kate Jentink (St) 104.65.
100 butterfly — 1. Claire Reinke (Way) 54.81; 11. Lucy Siedschlag (St) 1:00.80; 12. Margaret Reed (St) 1:00.81; 21. Hailey Schmit (St) 1:02.58; 27. Hannah Drexel (St) 1:04.39.
100 freestyle — 1. Libbi McCarthy (Ed) 52.83; 3. Lucy Paczosa (St) 53.27; T11. Jayla Petersen (St) 54.56; 19. Sophia Chau (St) 55.92; 32. Rhiannon Fay (St) 58.59.
500 freestyle — 1. Katie McCarthy (Ed) 4:58.31; 2. Sydney Dettmann (St) 5:00.04; 7. Anika Wright (St) 5:12.85; 15. Alison Poole (St) 5:23.80; 20. Annika Beck (St) 5:29.45.
200 freestyle relay — 1. Minnetonka A, 1:37.15; 3. Stillwater A (Maddie Reed, Lucy Paczosa, Anika Wright and Sydney Dettmann) 1:38.15; 17. Stillwater B (Jayla Petersen, Reese Bilot, Annie Gritters and Alison Poole) 1:44.74; 19. Stillwater C (Elaina Lokken, Sarah Doeksen, Grace Ganser and Julia Petersen) 1:45.82; 25. Stillwater D (Jayden Kemp, Rhiannon Fay, Kennedy Tope and Leah Cody) 1:48.28.
100 backstroke — 1, tie, Paige Dillon (Min) 56.24 and Avery Luedke (Ch) 56.24; 12. Sophia Chau (St) 1:00.69; 14. Sarah Doeksen (St) 1:01.52; 24. Grace Ganser (St) 1:03.93; 31. Hailey Schmit (St) 1:04.65.
100 breastroke — 1. Maddie Reed (St) 1:04.41; 3. Norah Naatjes (St) 1:06.43; 16. Audrey Serres (St) 1:11.89; 17. Julia Petersen (St) 1:12.20.
400 freestyle relay — 1. Stillwater A (Anika Wright, Lucy Paczosa, Norah Naatjes and Sydney Dettmann) 3:30.93; 7. Stillwater B (Margaret Reed, Sophia Chau, Reese Bilot and Lucy Siedschlag) 3:40.94; 18. Stillwater C (Annie Gritters, Sarah Doeksen, Jayden Kemp and Grace Ganser) 3:49.97; 24. Stillwater D (Leah Cody, Alison Poole, Hailey Schmit and Annika Beck) 3:55.62.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stillwater girls at True Team state meet
2020 Meet not held