October 30, 2003 at 1:29 p.m.
“It’s a little surprising,” smiled Wakefield. “I wouldn’t say I expected to do it again (win the conference) considering we only had four seniors back, but they have stepped up tremendously and our young swimmers have really contributed a lot.”
Unlike last year, this conference tourney win wasn’t as cut as dry. Chisago Lakes fell behind early in the meet to Milaca and Princeton. After clawing back to tie the Tigers, the Wildcats made their move.
“We figured it would be a three team meet and it ended up being a two team meet,” mentioned Ed Wakefield, Chisago Lakes swimming head coach. “We were tied with Princeton going into the diving and down 129-85 to Milaca. Our divers closed the gap, but still, we were down by 32 points with only five events left.”
“Our divers are so mentally tough, they know when to turn it on,” said Lisa Willhite, Chisago Lakes diving head coach. “They were all awesome, even Laura Greene got some points for us. That’s pretty awesome considering she’s only a seventh grader.”
Still, 32 points? No problem. Thanks to strong performances in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke, the gap was 12 points heading into the breaststroke. Needless to say, things went well, outscoring Milaca 31-13 in th event, giving the ‘Cats their first lead of the meet with one event left.
“I knew our breaststroke had gone pretty well, so when the score came up, I was pretty stoked,” said Wakefield. “We were up by six, so I knew the only way for Milaca to win the title outright was for them to finish first and us finish third in the 400 freestyle relay. If they finished first and we finished second, we would’ve tied. We knew as long as Milaca didn’t take first, we were going to win it. We were also seeded first in the event so we felt pretty confident that we would hold on.”
Seeded number one, the Chisago Lakes relay team placed second, four seconds ahead of their seed time. In first, not Milaca, but Princeton. That’s just the break the ‘Cats needed, giving them two more points than the Wolves, pushing their final point total to 310. Milaca finished with 302.
The title was the Wildcats second consecutive and only their second in school history. It might prove to be the perfect momentum boost heading into next weeks section meet in St. Cloud.
“I still think our toughest competition at sections is going to be Milaca, Princeton, and Proctor-Hermantown. Proctor-Hermantown is always tough,” stated Wakefield. “To be honest, I don’t want to expect anything. I want everyone’s taper to work. I want them all to peak at the right time. I really don’t care about anything else.”
With another title under their belts, the Wildcats have already defied the odds, so why not keep it going?
Rum River Conference Meet
Oct 25, 2003
1. Chisago Lakes 310
2. Milaca 302
3. Princeton 281
4. Foley 192
5. Big Lake 90
6. STMA 88
Individual Results- Top 5
200 Medley Relay-
#2. Chisago Lakes 2:01.57
(Allie Jones, Steph Peterson, Molly McGurk, Laura Chelberg)
*1. Lindsey Koch 2:06.19
5. Jessica Tollberg 2:14.04
4. Allie Jones 2:29.43
4. Erin Cunningham 27.32
*1. Erica Greene 356.50
*2. Lauren Trudeau 335.55
4. Courtney Langer 283.10
4. Laura Chelberg 1:08.87
#3. Erin Cunningham 59.35
*1. Lindsey Koch 5:40.20
#3. Laura Chelberg 5:57.54
5. Lauren Koch 6:03.44
200 Freestyle Relay-
4. Chisago Lakes 1:50.28
(Caitlyn Cunningham, Molly McGurk, Erin Cunningham, Lindsey Koch)
*2. Allie Jones 1:06.09
#3. Molly McGurk 1:13.90
5. Mandy Boo 1:19.84
400 Freestyle Relay-
#2. Chisago Lakes 3:54.97
Chisago Lakes 98
One win, that’s all they needed to wrap up their second consecutive perfect season. Standing at 9-0 in dual meets, Mahtomedi presented the final hurdle standing between the Wildcats and another 10-0 record. What a hurdle it was.
After the first event of the night, the Zephyrs grabbed the lead and ran with it, up by four heading into diving. Chisago Lakes had been in that situation before, down, going into diving. Every other dual meet, the score changed drastically after diving and this one was no different.
The Wildcats went one, two, three in diving, outscoring Mahtomedi 13-2, giving the ‘Cats a 42-35 lead when the diving board stopped vibrating.
“I figured it would be close,” said Wakefield. “It was a great meet on senior night that’s for sure. As usual, our diving went one, two, three. That was one turning point. The other was when we went one, two, four in the 500. That was huge also.”
How about the 500? Lindsey Koch answered as the Zephyrs charged back with a first place finish in the 500 freestyle. Behind Koch, Laura Chelberg and Lauren Koch also placed, helping to pick up 12 crucial points, once again changing the tide of the meet. Down 57-52 going into the 500, Chisago Lakes led 64-61 after.
Mahtomedi would have one more burst as they re-took the lead two events later. Down by one with the breaststroke up next, the Wildcats finally took control of the meet and never looked back.
Molly McGurk paced the ‘Cats by finishing first in the event while Mandy Boo came in second and Andrea Nickelson ran third. Chisago outscored Mahtomedi 13-3 in the event, putting the Wildcats back in front, this time for good, en route to a 98-87 win.
“We have good breaststrokers, but not the kind where I expect them to go one, two, three against a good team,” remarked Wakefield. “It seems that this whole season, we’ve had kids in events that other teams don’t.”
Just one of many secrets to success, not only over the past year, but the past three years. After finishing the season 10-0 in dual meets, the Wildcats have only lost one dual meet over the past three seasons.
“After what we graduated last year, it’s a big surprise,” mentioned Wakefield. “It’s a pleasant surprise the way the seniors have stepped up. It’s a very different team than last year. It’s a much younger team. We have a ton of freshman and we’ve had a few of them step up huge. That’s great for them to contribute, that’s really made a difference.”
“We had swimmers in the water all summer, constantly working on their stroke,” added Lisa Willhite, Chisago Lakes head diving coach. “That makes a huge difference. The girls were ready for the season. I believe swimming is one of the hardest sports out there when it comes to what you have to do physically. It’s very demanding. I think our girls are in great shape. Ed works them hard, he certainly doesn’t take it easy on them that’s for sure. You can see that the girls are in better shape than some other teams we face.”
“It’s cool to go undefeated but that wasn’t our goal,” continued Wakefield. “Maybe that’s what makes it really cool, knowing that we did it without concentrating on it. We really worked the girls hard before the Mahtomedi meet because we have our sights on sections. We want to push the girls and make sure they peak at the right time.”