November 12, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.

Two Wildcats earn state tourney berths in swimming

Two Wildcats earn state tourney berths in swimming
Two Wildcats earn state tourney berths in swimming

In the post-Thomi Lee era, the Wildcats weren’t sure if they would have state level competitors at the beginning of the season.

But, with the regular season slate and sections in the recordbook, Chisago Lakes discovered it has three athletes of state-caliber, even though one just narrowly missed out on a berth.

The first state qualifier for Chisago Lakes was sophomore diver Payton Nelson.

The girls have had a long tradition of sending at least one diver to state that went through the Schlegel sisters to the Thomsen sisters to the Carlson sisters.

Nelson is another in a long line of talented divers for the Wildcats.

In swimming, Dani Berg, a senior captain, was considered one of the best bets to get to the state tournament before the season started. She had gone as part of a relay team previously, and she had the speed to stick with top swimmers.

Unfortunately, she happens to be in some of the deeper events in girls swimming in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle. The 200 was her speciality coming in, but she finished third in the finals, which left her on the outside looking in for the second straight year. Berg finished third in the event last year too. Both this year and last, she just barely missed the automatic qualifying time that would have put her into the tournament no matter what place she finished.
Sophomore Kalli Jo Olson took advantage of the qualifying times, though. After a strong showing in the backstroke prelims, she took off in the finals and kept a torrid pace throughout to earn her first career trip to the state tournament.

Although two girls were just a bit faster than she, and took the top two spots, Olson broke the automatic qualifying barrier and punched her ticket to the state tournament with the fast time.

The state-bound girls took part in the events earlier this week. A schedule change to the tournament last year puts the diving prelims on Wednesday afternoon and the swimming prelims are today (Thursday) afternoon.

Nelson was the 20th diver on Wednesday and is seeded 21st out of the 32 state divers with a score of 359.30.

Olson was to swim in the second heat of the 100 backstroke on Thursday afternoon. (Her seed time was the 12th fastest going into the tournament out of 27 swimmers.)

The finals for both events will be Friday, November at noon.

For updates from the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, check out the Chisago County Press on Facebook.

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