November 18, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
The only problem is that typical powerhouse Monticello had just as much talent and even more experience this year. But, Chisago Lakes still flaunted depth that they hadn't had in years before throughout the section meet.
In the first relay of the finals, Amanda Bean, Bailey Strand, Nicole Bean and Araya Gamble teamed up to finish in fifth place with a time of 2:01.24.
They got their first win of the section meet, and first state qualifier of the event, when Brogan Lee won the 200 yard freestyle. Lee finished seventh in the event at the state tournament last year. Her state tournament time last year was 1:59.11. In the section finals, Lee swam a blazing fast 1:55.59, which was the third fastest qualifying time in the state.
Although there's no reason Lee shouldn't finish in the top five at state in the 200, she's going to have to swim and absolute perfect race to have a crack at a state title. Marissa Wood of Sartell St. Stephen is the defending state champion and Class A record holder in the event, and she returns with the fastest qualifying time.
In third place, Brogan's younger sister Thomi finished in a time of 1:58.05. The time was fast enough to qualify her for the state tournament for the second year in a row.
Hanna Lee made the finals in the event, but the senior finished in eighth place with a time of 2:04.89.
"Hanna was a little disappointed after her 200 time," Head Coach Ed Wakefield said. "But I thought it was awesome for her. Her previous personal best before sections was 2:08, and she swam a 2:04 in prelims. It would've been tough for her to cut three more seconds off."
In the 50 yard freestyle, senior Heidi Willhite, who qualified for state in the 50 and 100 last year, missed out this year, finishing in eighth in the 50 with a 26.43 and sixth in the 100 with a 56.39. She has been limited with a shoulder injury all year, and she was never able to quite peak like she did last year. But, her top eight finishes did still give the Wildcats some valuable points in the team standings.
In diving, Sam Thomsen follows in her older sister's footsteps. Alex Thomsen was a two-time state place winner that graduated last year, but the younger Thomsen, who is a sophomore, was always just behind her in the standings. Thomsen made the always-tough jump to the state level, though, with a score of 343.80, good enough for third place behind a pair of seniors, Chole Timm and Chelsey Bethke of Sauk Rapids-Rice.
In the 100 yard butterfly, Amanda Bean and Gamble finished in the top eight, as Bean finished fourth with a time of 1:04.22 and Gamble game in eighth with a time of 1:11.03.
As expected, in the 500 yard freestyle, the Lee sisters earned another bid to the state tournament. They both qualified last year for the tourney, and Brogan finished in third place last year at state.
This year, Brogan earned the top spot in the section with a time of 5:04.69, which was a section an pool record, and bested second place Ashley Drazkowski of Monticello by over 12 seconds. Drazkowski was one of the swimmers to finish ahead of Brogan last year at the state tournament.
Thomi earned her bid by finishing in 5:17.58 in third place. She finished in 11th place last year at the state tournament with a time of 5:20.16.
The fast swims kept piling up for Chisago Lakes as the meet wore on. Although Willhite failed to qualify for the tourney in her individual events, it didn't stop her and some teammates from earning their way in with relays.
In the 200 yard freestyle relay, Willhite teamed up with Brogan, Thomi and Hanna Lee to finish in fourth place with a time of 1:43.45. Because the section is so stacked, even with the CL quartet finishing in fourth, they finished with a good enough time to qualify them for the state tourney.
That same foursome qualified again for the state meet in the 400 yard freestyle relay. They finished in third place in the event with a time of 3:44.43. Again, because they swam so fast, they made it with a qualifying time instead of being in the top two finishers. They were only .4 seconds away from second place Foley, though.
For both relay teams, Wakefield was allowed to bring four substitutes with him to the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. Although he didn't take the maximum number, Wakefield has Amanda Bean, Nicole Bean, Gamble and Taylor Connell as alternates.
Amanda Bean, who is a senior, finally broke through in the sections in the 100 yard backstroke. She swam a great race, finishing in 1:02.33, which put her in second place and moved her on to the state tournament. She narrowly bested Anna Jensen of Monticello, who finished in 1:02.42. "Amanda looked very strong, and halfway through the race, I looked at the time and said 'Oh wow'," Wakefield explained. "She worked so hard this year, and now in the state tournament, she just has to hold her time and maybe get a little bit faster and she has a shot at the top eight.
As a team, the Wildcats ended up finishing in third place with 312 points. Monticello breezed through the competition. In fact, out of the 12 events, Monticello had the top finisher in eight of those as they piled up 555 points. Big Lake finished in second place with 326 points, just edging out Chisago Lakes.
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