“It feels good to win,” Hutchinson eighth-grader Madilyn Gehrke said after the girls swimming and diving team won its 13th straight section title in Willmar Saturday.
The Tigersharks won six events and racked up 448 points in the final, beating out second-place Delano by 93 points. Before the meet, the ’Sharks said it would be a disappointment if they didn’t win the section title. Even though some of the finishes were not what the team wanted, they were still joyous with the overall results.
“I think everybody did the best that they could,” sophomore Grace Hanson said. “We couldn’t of asked for anything more. I’m so grateful to be on this team.”
Along with its section titles, Hutchinson earned 16 entries into the state meet this week. The state swimming prelims are noon Friday, Nov. 15, and finals are at noon Saturday, Nov. 16, all at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Despite all the entries, coach Rory Fairbanks felt the team left some swimmers on the board.
“We had a couple more swimmers I thought would get in that didn’t make it in,” he said. “Team-wise they performed well, held or most people dropped a little bit from what they did Thursday. We’ve got quite a few swimmers going in, now we just got to see where everybody gets in and where we’re sitting.”
Hutch’s relay teams in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle won section titles and qualified for state. Individually, Grace Hanson won titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and set section records in both events. Hailey Farrell also won the 200 individual medley.
Other state qualifiers included Lexi Kucera in the 200 freestyle and butterfly, Mikayla Witte in the 200 freestyle and backstroke, Madison Witte in the 200 freestyle and butterfly, Jaiden Mezera in the individual medley, Farrell in the 500 freestyle, and Kasidy Brecht in the 500 freestyle and backstroke. The only events Hutchinson does not have a state qualifier in are diving and the breaststroke.
It’s been quite the year for the Tigersharks. They’ve won all but two competitions this year — the section and state true team meets. Following those loses, they never got down, they remained focused and went out and won conference and section championships. Fairbanks said that their section is by far the toughest in the state. Even going as far as to say that swimmers from the section could go on to win 10 or 11 events at state. But just being on a winning team makes it all worth it.
“We’re just such an amazing team,” Hanson said. “To even get all these opportunities is amazing.”
With sections complete and the state heats ready, Hutchinson will be taking a look at where it stacks up with teams such as Visitation and Sartell-St. Stephen, their top competition for a state title.
“There’s been years where you think kids will be in the top eight at the state meet,” Fairbanks said, “(but then) having an unfortunate disqualification or something, so they’re not there. Things like that can really change it.”
The season has been a grind for everyone, but with one weekend left, it’s time for everyone to put everything on the line and swim as fast as they can.
Section 3A finals (Nov. 9)
Teams — 1. Hutchinson 448, 2. Delano 355, 3. Mound Westonka/Holy Family 323, 4. Orono 279, 5. Waconia 229, 6. Marshall 146, 7. Dassel-Cokato 121, 8. Willmar 110, 9. Montevideo 99, 10. Litchfield 61, 11. Watertown-Mayer 28
200 medley relay — 1. Hutch (Lexi Kucera, Madilyn Gehrke, Hailey Farrell, Ainslea Jensen) 1:48.78
200 freestyle — 1. Kylie Strobl (Del) 1:56.00; 2. Lexi Kucera 1:57.12; 3. Mikayla Witte 1:57.42; 4. Madison Witte 1:58.01
200 IM — 1. Hailey Farrell (H) 2:09.50; 3. Jaiden Mezera 2:13.17; 5. Clara Dobratz 2:15.90; 15. Megan Lipke 2:29.08
50 freestyle — 1. Grace Hanson (H) 23.51; 5. Ainslea Jensen 25.02; 14. Ashley Hanson 26.40; 16. Riley Borka 26.54
100 butterfly — 1. Emma Kern (Del) 56.60; 3. Lexi Kucera 57.59; 4. Madison Witte 58.81; 11. Jaiden Mezera 1:00.65; 12. Ainslea Jensen 1:01.19
100 freestyle — 1. Grace Hanson (H) 51.83; 7. Madilyn Gehrke 55.59; 16. Ashley Hanson 58.20
500 freestyle — 1. Zella Lucas (MW) 5:04.18; 2. Hailey Farrell 5:08.40; 4. Kasidy Brecht 5:27.51; 9. Annie Gores 5:30.85
200 freestyle relay — 1. Hutch (Grace Hanson, Mikayla Witte, Ainslea Jensen, Lexi Kucera) 1:37.01
100 backstroke — 1. Emma Kern (Del) 56.83; 3. Mikayla Witte 59:26; 5. Kasidy Brecht 1:00.56; 7. Annie Gores 1:02.75
100 breaststroke — 1. Ava Brogren (Wil) 1:08.71; 5. Clara Dobratz; 7. Madilyn Gehrke 1:11.12; 11. Megan Lipke 1:13.28
400 freestyle relay — 1. Hutch (Grace Hanson, Madison Witte, Mikayla Witte, Hailey Farrell) 33:16