November 4, 2004 at 7:43 a.m.
The most recent excitement came from the Rum River conference meet last Saturday. Chisago Lakes, who had won the last two conference titles, swam into the meet as the heavy underdog to Milaca. The Wolves proved they were the best team in the Rum during the season so why would the conference meet be any different? Well, it was.
But not at first. In typical Milaca fashion, the Wolves built a commanding lead through the first four events, leading Chisago by 55 points going into diving. However, the Wildcat divers weren’t about to let the lead get any larger, instead, they took a big bite out of it by finishing first, third, fifth and ninth. Junior Erica Greene won the meet once again, giving her all-conference honors. Greene was followed by junior Lauren Trudeau whose third place finish put her at all-conference honorable mention. In the end, when the diving was over, the ‘Cats had trimmed the deficit to 22- a 33 point swing.
“The divers were just awesome, they came up huge,” said Ed Wakefield, Chisago Lakes head swimming coach. “We didn’t even think we had a chance until after diving, that’s when we began to figure out that we were pretty close to Milaca.”
And the comeback continued. The Wildcats continued to climb northward in the 100 meter butterfly and 100 freestyle thanks to all-conference performances by Steph Peterson and Emily Stein. Then came the 500 freestyle where Lauren Koch and Laura Chelberg finished second and third respectively. Before anyone knew it, the Wildcats were only down by one point!
“They finally started to post the team scores and we realized we were only one point down,” remarked Wakefield. “It was unbelievable. The girls were just swimming so fast, I think they caught everyone by surprise.”
With Chisago in position to grab the lead, Milaca answered back. The Wolves pushed their lead to seven after the 200 freestyle. However, the ‘Cats would not be denied. Angie Dery grabbed a third place finish in the next event, the 100 yard backstroke, followed by Molly McGurk who set a school record in the 100 breaststroke. McGurk’s second place finish and Andrea Nickelson’s fourth place run brought Chisago even with Milaca with one event left- the 400 freestyle relay. It was down to one race.
“Our seed time going in was 4:06, however, we swam a 3:59 against Mahtomedi. Milaca didn’t know that,” remembered Wakefield. “I just told the girls to go out and give their all.”
It was a fantastic race. Seeded number one heading in, the Wolves needed their fastest time of the season (3:55.85) to fend off the Wildcats, who also swam their fastest time of the season (3:57.09). Milaca’s first place finish gave them the title. Meanwhile, Chisago Lakes finished second, just six points off the pace.
“It’s got to be our fastest non-taper time ever,” smiled Wakefield. “It has to be. It was just an unreal performance. We weren’t even supposed to be close. It was great to be in the hunt until the very end. I think we really surprised them.”
And they maybe even surprised themselves, at least a little bit.
Individually, Greene, Laura Chelberg, Koch, and McGurk swam, or dove, their way onto the all-conference team in one event, while Dery, McGurk, Peterson, Stein, Koch, Trudeau, Chelberg, Emily Merritt, and Jessica Tollberg were all named all-conference honorable mention.
Rum River Conference Meet
1. Milaca 502
2. Chisago Lakes 496
3. Foley 312
4. Princeton 236
5. STMA 236
6. Big Lake 159
Individual Results- Top 5
200 Medley Relay-
#2. Chisago Lakes 2:02.21
(Angie Dery, Steph Peterson, Molly McGurk, Emily Stein)
*2. Laura Chelberg 2:10.19
5. Jessica Tollberg 2:13.31
#3. Lauren Koch 2:28.15
4. Emily Stein 27.05
*1. Erica Greene 351.55
#3. Lauren Trudeau 320.40
5. Ana Peltier 264.95
#3. Steph Peterson 1:10.46
#3. Emily Stein 59.59
4. Emily Merritt 1:00.13
*2. Lauren Koch 5:47.72
#3. Laura Chelberg 5:55.90
200 Freestyle Relay-
#2. Chisago Lakes 1:50.03
(Emily Stein, Emily Merritt, Laura Chelberg, Jessica Tollberg)
#3. Angie Dery 1:09.11
*2. Molly McGurk 1:11.40
4. Andrea Nickelson 1:17.56
400 Freestyle Relay-
#2. Chisago Lakes 3:57.09
(Emily Merritt, Lauren Koch, Jessica Tollberg, Laura Chelberg)
Chisago Lakes 96
One of the reasons why the Wildcats were so on top of their game last Saturday had a lot to do with their win last Tuesday over Mahtomedi.
Thanks to an early-race motivational tool, the ‘Cats edged out the Zephyrs at the wall, literally, defeating them 96-90.
The drama unfolded in the first race of the night. As both teams took the pool in the 200 medley relay, during the race, Wakefield was informed that one of his relay teams had been disqualified for having too may logos on their cap. Because of that, instead of leading 10-4 after one event, the ‘Cats instead trailed 10-4 after the first event- a 12-point swing. Needless to say, it woke up the sleeping giant.
“Instead of their coach coming over to us and letting me know, their coach instead went to the judges and DQ’ed them,” said Wakefield. “It was a 12-point swing. After that, the girls were really fired up. They just swam mad.”
Mad is good, especially when you consider the results. Motivated by revenge, the ‘Cats stayed with Mahtomedi the rest of the way, trading blows back and forth.
Chisago made their final move late in the meet. Down heading into the breaststroke, Molly McGurk, Andrea Nickelson, and Caylee Nelson went 1-2-3, putting the ‘Cats in front by four with one event left. The 400 freestyle relay was going to determine the outcome…again.
“We needed either a first or a second and third to win,” replied Wakefield.”
They got first, thanks to their fastest time of the season (up to that point), just fast enough to touch out Mahtomedi at the wall to win the race. Coming into the meet, the fastest the Wildcats had swam in that event all season had been 4:06, against Mahtomedi, they swam a 3:59.
“I told the girls that we should actually thank their coach because there is no way we would’ve swam like that if it wasn’t for them being so mad.,” said Wakefield. “That move at the beginning of the night cost them the meet.”
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