October 13, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.
The Wildcats' unbeaten season inside the North Suburban Conference came to an end at the hands of Benilde-St. Margaret's.
The Red Knights, whom the Wildcats have beaten in two straight years, got off to a big early lead, and Chisago Lakes never was able to climb back into the meet.
The 'Cats can normally get a fast start from their quartet of Kayle Donahue, Thomi Lee, Nicole Bean and Araya Gamble in the 200 medley relay, but BSM's foursome bested them by almost six seconds, and Chisago was in an early 10-4 hole.
In the 200 freestyle, Lee earned first place with a 2:00.81, but the Red Knights swept second, third and fourth to claim a victory in the points column, earning nine to CL's seven.
From there, BSM just kept building their lead in each event. They only won one more time, when Lee earned a first place in the 500 freestyle after swimming a 5:21.68. Again, however, the Red Knights took second, third and fourth in the event to keep Chisago Lakes at bay.
The Wildcats had a disappointing performance at Simley over the weekend. It's a meet they had traditionally performed well in, but this year, they finished sixth out of seven teams as they lack the depth that they've had in the past few years. It also didn't help that the event was swam with college level distances, and not the traditional high school distances.
Sam Thomsen and Courtney Schlegel earned a pile of points early when they finished third and fourth in the diving event. In the event, that accounted for 31 points after the first event.
In the first swimming event of the meet, the endurance of the swimmers was tested heavily in the 1,650 meter freestyle, which is more than three times longer than any high school event.
Fortunately for CL, they had the best long-distance swimmer at the event in Lee, and she smoked the competition, finishing in 18:18, almost a minute and a half faster than the second place finisher.
With Lee still recovering from the grueling first event and preparing for the 400 medley relay, the team of Donahue, Kim Colburn, Madeline Maxwell and Hannah Emeott tackled the 200 medley relay and finished in seventh place for 24 points.
Bean, Bailey Strand, Lee and Gamble then took to the pool for a second place finish in the 400 medley relay with a time of 4:33.86, earning 34 points.
Donahue had a nice performance in the 200 individual medley, finishing fourth with a time of 2:34.72, which was four second faster than her seed time.
Dani Berg captured a seventh place finish for Chisago Lakes in the 400 individual medley with a time of 5:37.04, gaining 12 points for the 'Cats.
Gamble came back with a seventh place in the 50 freestyle and a fourth place in the 100 butterfly, nabbing CL 27 combined points from the two events.
Lee won another distance event, besting Devin Cicha of Hudson by two seconds in the 500 freestyle. Her time of 5:12.30 was even more impressive considering all the yards she had already swam on the day (Cicha hadn't swam in the 1,650 yard race earlier in the day).
As a whole, the meet was mostly dominated by the Wisconsin teams that hopped over the St. Croix River for the visit. Hudson won the event with 602 points, River Falls finished third with 473 points and Chippewa Falls finished fifth with 396 points. The Wildcats finished in sixth with 390 points.
St. Louis Park 96, Chisago Lakes 82
The Orioles, who had foiled the Wildcats' bid for a conference championship two years in a row with narrow wins, blasted CL this year and barely let them in the match until the diving event.
SLP started by taking the top two spots in the 200 medley relay, the top three spots in the 200 freestyle, the top two spots in the 200 individual medley and three of the top four spots in the 50 freestyle.
By that time, St. Louis Park had built a commanding 47-15 lead over Chisago Lakes. The Orioles don't feature a diving squad, but with the meet being in Chisago Lakes this year, the dives still went on. Thomsen, Courtney Schlegel and Cassie Schlegel went one-two-three in the event and trimmed the lead to 19.
But, St. Louis Park quickly built that lead back up all the way to 96-57 until they started swimming exhibition.
The only first places that the Wildcats earned on the day were the divers and Lee in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.