Hutchinson girls swimmers saved their best for last. The Tigersharks won seven state titles, set two records and finished second as a team Saturday at the Class A state finals in Minneapolis.
Following the prelims Friday, Hutchinson knew it was too far behind Visitation to jump it in the standings. The Blazers went on to win their seventh straight state title with 318 points while the ‘Sharks came in second with 250.
“They’re a deep team,” head coach Rory Fairbanks said. “We knew it coming in. Prelims we did everything we could, they just swam better than I thought they would.
“We knew going in we had some of the best swimmers out there,” Fairbanks added, “we just don’t have enough of them to compete with Visitation.”
Although the team fell short of a state title, it was one of the biggest days in the program’s history. The Tigersharks racked up medals in nine events and climbed to the top of podium seven times. It’s the most state titles Hutchinson has ever won, beating out the six titles it captured in 1997, the first year swimming went to two classes.
“That was one of our goals actually, to win seven, and it’s a great accomplishment for all of us,” said sophomore Grace Hanson. “It can’t be done by one of us, we had to come together for that. It was really amazing to even get that far and beat six. I’m really proud everybody.”
Hanson led the way with four state titles, bringing her total high school state championship medal count to 11. Individually, she won the 50 and 100 freestyle and was an automatic All-American in both. This was her third straight win in the 50 freestyle, and her time of 22.79 tied a state record.
Along with those individual titles, Hanson led the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams to two more state championships. It was the third straight year Hutchinson won the 200 freestyle relay, and the fourth straight year it won the 400 freestyle relay.
In the 200 Hanson teamed up with Mikayla Witte, Ainslea Jensen and Lexi Kucera. In the 400 she was with Madison Witte, Hailey Farrell and Kucera. Both relays were automatic All-Americans, and the 400 relay team set another new record, beating its own record from the prelims with a new time of 3:26.41.
“It’s really amazing to have the opportunity to even get this far,” Hanson said about her four state titles. “I couldn’t have done any of it without my teammates. If I didn’t work with them every day in practice and have the best coaches, I couldn’t have done any of it without them.”
Kucera was another big winner. Along with her titles in the two relays, the senior also won the butterfly and finished second in the 200 freestyle to wrap up her high school career. Her time in the 200 freestyle earned her All-American consideration, and she missed by less than a second in the butterfly.
“It was amazing,” Kucera said about her final meet as a Tigershark. “There’s nothing more I can ask for.”
Farrell dominated her individual events, winning the 200 individual medley by more than two seconds and the 500 freestyle by six seconds for three state titles. It was also the second straight year she’s won the 500 freestyle
“I’m so grateful for all my teammates,” Farrell said. “We’ve done so much hard work. Yeah, it would have been nice to come out on top, but there’s nothing that we could have done. I’m just so incredibly proud to have all of them all as my teammates.”
Farrell also helped the 200 medley relay team to a solid third-place finish along with teammates Mikayla Witte, Jaiden Mezera and Jensen.“
This was a great year,” Fairbanks said. “(We) set two state records, four automatic All-Americans, a lot of school records, we can’t complain with that.”
While Visitation had the numbers in the end, Hutchinson had the best swimmers in state in more than half of the events, and they felt good with how the season wrapped up.
“We’re very happy with what happened, and we all swam very well,” Kucera said. “There’s nothing more we can ask for. We all did what we needed to do.”
Class A Swimming and Diving Championship (Nov. 16)
200 Medley Relay: 1. Visitation (Kali Fletcher, Elinor Glass, Lucy Berg, Ava Hoffman) 1:45.64; 3. Hutchinson (Mikayla Witte, Jaiden Mezera, Hailey Farrell, Ainsela Jensen) 1:48.23
200 Freestyle: 1. Taylor Williams (Benilde) 1:49.89; 2. Lexi Kucera (Hutch) 1:50.30; 16. Madison Witte (Hutch) 1:57.01; 23. Mikayla Witte (Hutch) 1:59.58
200 IM: 1. Hailey Farrell (Hutch) 2:04.10; 15. Mezera 2:13.24
50 Freestyle: 1. Grace Hanson (Hutch) 22.79
100 Butterfly: 1. Lexi Kucera (Hutch) 55.57; 13. Madison Witte 59.25
100 Freestyle: 1. Grace Hanson (Hutch) 49.83
500 Freestyle: 1. Hailey Farrell (Hutch) 4:59.54; 12. Kasidy Brecht 5:14.27
200 Freestyle Relay: 1. Hutchinson (Hanson, Mikayla Witte, Jensen, Kucera) 1:35.15
100 Backstroke: 1. Emma Kern (Delano) 54.94; 10. Brecht 59.48; 15. Mikayla Witte 1:00.29
400 Freestyle: 1. Hutchinson (Hanson, Madison Witte, Farrell, Kucera) 3:26.41