November 23, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.

Lee, Thomsen pile up more hardware at the state tourney

Lee, Thomsen pile up more hardware at the state tourney
Lee, Thomsen pile up more hardware at the state tourney

Minnesota State Swimming and Diving Tournament

After a wildly successful sections that saw the Chisago Lakes swimming and diving team qualify six swimmers and divers for the state tournament, the big stage came quickly for the girls.

The tournament began Thursday at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center with the diving tandem of junior Sam Thomsen and sophomore Courtney Schlegel.

Thomsen was sans the first-time jitters, as she had qualified for the tournament last year and finished 10th. Schlegel at least had the guiding hand of Thomsen to show her some of the ropes of the state tournament. Because of that, neither showed early nerves, especially not Thomsen.

Throughout the early stages of the event, Thomsen seized the lead with some impressive dives and left the whole pack looking up at her. But, a slight miss in one of her dives left Thomsen reeling, and she didn't quite recover as quick as she would've liked, finishing in 19th place with a score of 136.55, but, with the top 20 moving on to the semi-finals, it left the door open for Thomsen to climb up the standings.

Schlegel, however, wasn't able to really stick with some of the top divers with low degree of difficulty (DD) dives. She was just on the outside looking in when the field was trimmed from 30 down to 20 heading into the semi-finals. Schlegel had accumulated 128.35 points, with the 20th place diver earning 135.55. Schlegel ended up finishing in 24th place at the meet, but the sophomore has two years remaining to fight her way back to the state tourney.

Thomsen dove well in the semi-finals, scoring almost 100 points in three dives. She leapfrogged just enough divers to earn a spot in the finals, finishing in 14th place with 220.25 points when the top 15 divers advance to the finals.

With a lot of work to do in the finals, Thomsen didn't flinch at the task at hand. She had three high DD's, all over two, while most of her competitors were going for 1.5's and 1.6's.

Thomsen stuck her first dive in the finals, which had a DD of 2.1. With that, she scored 33 points, nearly bumping her up into the top eight already.

In her second finals dive, Thomsen again performed it beautifully, taking a 2.4 DD dive and making it seem easy. She scored 42 points, which put her up near the leaders after the second dive was complete. After those first two rounds, Thomsen had two of the four highest scoring dives of the day to that point.

In her third dive, Thomsen went for all the marbles. Her last dive had a DD of 2.6. If she stuck it, it would put her among the top three -- Bailey Dupay of Northfield was running away with the meet at that time in first, but the rest of the field was wide open -- but if she missed it, it'd leave her vulnerable to missing out on a medal even.

She landed somewhere in between that. She didn't stick the dive, but she didn't completely miss it either. She came up a bit short on the dive, but the judges punished her a little excessively, giving her only 23 points and leaving her total at 318.55 for the tournament.

Since Thomsen was the second diver to go on the day, she had to wait out the next 14 divers to see if she'd medal. One by one, girls were passing her and her chances for a medal started to look bleak.

But, she was granted a reprieve when two divers who had a good chance to unseat Thomsen from the podium missed their final dives, earning Thomsen seventh place for her efforts.

Dupay won the meet, scoring 405.50 points, Casey Nightingale of Benilde-St. Margaret's was second with 336.65, and then Karli Kriewall, Kyley Foster, Maddie Bearson and Jana Hedstrom all finished 10 points or less in front of Thomsen.

Section rival Courtney Miller of Richfield rounded out the top eight, finishing with 315.80 points, less than three points behind Thomsen.

In swimming, Thomi Lee added to her growing medal collection with a fourth place finish in the 500-yard freestyle relay.

She qualified third in the preliminary round with a 5:10.90, behind record-setter Marisa Wood of Sartell-St. Stephen and Monticello's Ashley Drazkowski, who was a longtime section mettle for Lee and her older sister Brogan before CL was switched this year.

In the finals, Wood and Drazkowski set a blistering pace in the early laps with Lee and Abby Erdmann of Breck following behind them.

As the laps piled up and the fatigue wore in, Wood, who had broken her own Class A record in the prelims with a 4:53.83, started to break away from the pack and Erdmann, Lee and Drazkowski began to battle it out for second place.

Throughout the late stages, Drazkowski held a slight lead, with Erdmann just behind her and Lee within striking distance of both. However, the more seasoned swimmers -- Drazkowski is a senior and Erdmann is a junior -- pulled just slightly away from Lee as the remaining laps dwindled.

Erdmann passed Drazkowski just at the end, finishing in second place with a time of 5:07.36. Drazkowski touched less than a half second later with a time of 5:07.61. Lee, who is a sophomore, was just behind those two with a time of 5:09.31. Wood ended up setting a Minnesota state record, finishing in 4:49.68, besting Cretin-Derham Hall's Kiera Janzen, who set the record of 4:50.55 in 2008.

The 500 wasn't the only event Lee particpated in over the weekend, just before that, she had finished in 11th place in the 100-yard butterfly. Head Coach Ed Wakefield and Lee thought she'd have a better chance of getting a medal in that event than in the 200 freestyle, but the girls of the fly kept their times low at the ultra-competitive meet.

Wakefield figuered if Lee could get under one minute, she could earn a medal. Although she didn't quite hit the sub-one minute time, it wouldn't have mattered in the scheme of medaling. She did swim a personal best 1:00.03 in the prelims, missing her intended mark by three-one hundredths of a second, and the time earned her the 11th seed. All 10 girls in front of her went under one minute. By comparison, Lee's time would've been good for seventh at last year's state meet.

In the consolation finals, Lee swam a 1:00.60 to finish in 11th place behind freshmen Gabi Sawyer of Melrose and Riele Short of Blake.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the foursome of Araya Gamble, Nicole Bean, Dani Berg and Lee managed to chop their time down again, lowering their school record time again for the second time in a week.

Although they were one of the bottom seeds out of the 23 relay teams that qualified, the girls sure didn't swim like it. On the first day, they finished in 15th place in 1:41.93, beating their school record time from sections by over a second. That meant the foursome shaved off almost 10 seconds from their personal best time in the last week and a half of swimming.

In the race, Gamble swam a 26.29 opening leg, Berg followed that up with a 26.12 leg, Bean lowered her personal best leg to 24.87 and Lee anchored them with a 24.65. The girls even finished in front of the Hill-Murray quartet that had just beat them by two seconds at sections.

In the consolation finals, the girls didn't quite match their prelim time, but they showed more grit and conditioning than some of the other teams in the field, jumping up from 15th to 12th place. They finished the consolation finals in 1:42.37 while Sauk Rapids-Rice, Orono and Blake fell to the wayside.

who set the record of 4:50.55 in 2008.

The 500 wasn't the only event Lee participated in over the weekend, just before that, she had finished in 11th place in the 100-yard butterfly. Head Coach Ed Wakefield and Lee thought she'd have a better chance of getting a medal in that event than in the 200 freestyle, but the girls of the fly kept their times low at the ultra-competitive meet.

Wakefield figured if Lee could get under one minute, she could earn a medal. Although she didn't quite hit the sub-one minute time, it wouldn't have mattered in the scheme of medaling. She did swim a personal best 1:00.03 in the prelims, missing her intended mark by three-one hundredths of a second, and the time earned her the 11th seed. All 10 girls in front of her went under one minute. By comparison, Lee's time would've been good for seventh at last year's state meet.

In the consolation finals, Lee swam a 1:00.60 to finish in 11th place behind freshmen Gabi Sawyer of Melrose and Riele Short of Blake.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the foursome of Araya Gamble, Nicole Bean, Dani Berg and Lee managed to chop their time down again, lowering their school record time again for the second time in a week.

Although they were one of the bottom seeds out of the 23 relay teams that qualified, the girls sure didn't swim like it. On the first day, they finished in 15th place in 1:41.93, beating their school record time from sections by over a second. That meant the foursome shaved off almost 10 seconds from their personal best time in the last week and a half of swimming.

In the race, Gamble swam a 26.29 opening leg, Berg followed that up with a 26.12 leg, Bean lowered her personal best leg to 24.87 and Lee anchored them with a 24.65. The girls even finished in front of the Hill-Murray quartet that had just beat them by two seconds at sections.

In the consolation finals, the girls didn't quite match their prelim time, but they showed more grit and conditioning than some of the other teams in the field, jumping up from 15th to 12th place. They finished the consolation finals in 1:42.37 while Sauk Rapids-Rice, Orono and Blake fell to the wayside.

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