2018 Results: Ninth in Section 5A.
The Princeton swimming and diving team will be composed of almost a completely new group of aquatic athletes when compared with last year.
“We lost a lot of great athletes to graduation,” said Coach Annika Bordak.
Looking back at last year’s sections, key standouts included Beth Milam (senior), Kayla Haux (freshman), Megan Bistodeau (graduated), Clara Skeim (graduated), Stevie Stewart (graduated), Alanna Mrocek (junior), Sydney Negri (sophomore), Shelby Ulm (freshman), Mel Clark (senior), and Char Murphy (junior).
In terms of pre- and early-season coaching philosophy, Bordak said she’s not focused on sending swimmers and divers to sections right this very moment.
Instead, she’s taking the season one day, one week, and one meet at a time.
“With this mindset we are going to achieve many great things and by the time we get to a point to where we separate out who will be attending sections, I think there will be many hard decisions to make,” Bordak explained.
Princeton has a very young team, Bordak said, referring to the current three seniors and three juniors on the roster.
She added: “Our underclassmen really need to step up this year and we have already had those conversations with the team. They know what we need to do to have the kind of season we are reaching for.”
Milam and Clark will serve as team captains for Princeton this year, Bordak said.
“Beth and Mel work really well together and their communication with the coaches is amazing,” Bordak said. “They will act as great liaisons between the teams’ wants/needs and the coaches.
Bordak expects the Tiger sophomore class to step up this year and really show its leadership abilities.
For example, in the weeks of practice leading up to the start of the season, Sydney Negri and Audrey Hovis have emerged as standouts, Bodak said.
“Our juniors and seniors do a great job leading the team and serving as role models to their younger teammates, however, the sophomore class greatly out numbers the senior and junior class,” Bordak said. “People follow the masses. We have a great group of sophomores who are already showing leadership skills.”
Murphy has shown great improvement on the board when compared with last year, becoming much more consistent on her dives and scores.
“I expect Char will be able to start throwing dives with higher degrees of difficulty, which means higher scores and placement at sections,” Bordak said.
Murphy is setting up on a path to make her competitive at sections to a point where state could be on her horizon, Bordak added.
Milam will likely be more of an all-around swimmer this season but is still focusing on what she wants to train for sections.
Clark gained a great deal of confidence last year on the board, Bordak added. She is continuing to grow in confidence and consistency on the board.
“I have a feeling this will be a very strong year for Mel and she will finish out her last season with a bang,” she said.
Mrocek is the fastest sprinter on the team. According to Bordak, Mrocek will need to step up in her individuals and relay events.
“She will be breaking 27 and 1:00 in her open 50 and 100 freestyle events, respectively. She has so much strength and speed,” Bordak said.
Princeton had many underclassman really start to step up towards the end of the season last year.
Shelby Ulm really took off at the end of the season last year she had a great show at her first ever sections last year. Bordak expects her to really step it up this year.
Sydney Negri really took off at the end of last season, Bordak said, adding Negri surprised her teammates and coaches with a fantastic section performance last year in her first section competition effort.
“I have already had the conversation with Sydney about stepping up and being a leader on this team not only in the water, but on deck. She is going to do great things this year,” Bordak said.
Samantha Couch was just a seventh grader last year and she took on two of the hardest events all season long, 200 IM and the 100 Fly.
Bordak plans to have Couch primarily swim those events because she has such great strokes.
“I think with her first year under her belt, Samantha is already showing more confidence and knowledge with those races,” Bordak said. “The only thing that will hold Samantha back this year is nerves. We conquer those nerves and she will be unstoppable.
Sam Simonson shocked everyone with her improvements last year as well, Bordak saids. She moved from junior varsity to varsity in the 100 Breaststroke and started to take off. “She has an incredible work ethic and has many goals,” Bordak added.
Kayla Haux trained quite a bit in the off season and is already looking ready to compete on Day 1 this season, Bordak said.
“She works hard and knows what she needs to do to achieve her goals. Kayla will be one of our top distance swimmers this year,” Bordak contends.
Maddy Barlage flew under everyone’s radars last year till the very end of the season.
“She made so many incredible improvements last year and continues to look strong at practice this year,” Bordak said. “I am excited to see what Maddy can achieve this year now that she is more confident.
Amelia Sheck stood out in the 200 Freestyle towards the end of the season last year, Bordak said.
“The best part is she actually likes that event - which it is hard to find athletes who enjoy the 200 because of the mental strength it takes to complete the controlled sprint,” Bordak explained. “Amelia has more experience this year and I see her really taking off towards success this season.”
Regarding conference and section competition, Bordak expects Sauk Rapids, Milaca, Monticello, and Foley to return as section leaders. Potential dark horse competitors include Princeton and Oglvie-Mora.
“A few of the really strong teams left the Mississippi 8 (Buffalo, Rogers, St. Michael), thus allowing Monticello and Cambridge-Isanti to be standouts,” she said, adding surprise roles could be played by Chisago-Lakes, and Princeton.
Half of Princeton’s swimming and dive team this year is completely new, so it’s currently is hard to know who all the eventual standouts will be, Bordak said.
“There is always room for anyone who wants to stand out to rise to the top of our team in any particular event,” she said. “Our sprint events and relays took a hit, but that only means there’s room for new swimmers.”