David Olson knows a repeat will be difficult but he’s confident his Sartell swimming and diving team will be in the mix to win a second straight state title.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to have to pour it on now,” Olson said. “There’s a few teams right up there, but we’re one of them.”
The Sabres qualified in 12 individual swimming events with two divers and three relay teams going into the Class A meet.
The meet starts off with preliminary diving competition at noon today at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Swimming prelims start at noon Friday and the finals for all events begin at noon Saturday.
The Class 2A meet follows the same order, but starts at 6 p.m. each night.
Northfield, Mankato West and Visitation also are expected to finish near the top of the team standings, according to Olson. The Sabres were qualified for nine individual swimming events with one diver and three relay teams when they won the title in 2011.
Sartell blew the competition away last year with 238 team points, 65 more than second-place Northfield.
“We’ve had some pretty outstanding performances this year,” Olson said. “I think the whole team pretty much stepped up and they knew they had to cover a lot of spots.”
Ellen Bloom and Gaby Hagen lead the Sabres into the state meet, qualifying for four events each. They’re the last two legs of the 400 freestyle relay.
“Gaby Hagen had a great section met and we’re looking for her to drop even more at the state meet,” Olson said. “She probably was the biggest talk of our team at sections. Other coaches were saying, ‘Holy cow, look at that Gaby Hagen, she came out of nowhere’.
“She didn’t surprise us.”
Kendra Raths also qualified for two individual events for Sartell: the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. She finished second behind Albany’s Rachel Tiede in both events at Saturday’s Section 6A Meet.
Olson is looking for all of Sartell’s qualifiers to advance past the preliminary round in order to increase the point total as much as possible.
“I’ve seen the state meet come down to the top five teams being within 10 points,” Olson said. “Every point counts. It’s really important to get everybody into the second day.”
Bloom helped win the 400 freestyle relay last season and is back to defend individual titles in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.
Melrose qualified eight times for state, four fewer than last season, but the goal for the Dutchmen is to break into the finals in a few events this weekend. Coach Nathan Meyer considers that a realistic goal.
No Dutchmen swimmers made the finals cut in 2011, but a few of them were close — like Gabi Sawyer, who missed the final cut by one spot in the 100 butterfly last season. Sawyer’s consolation finals time (59.64) was better than three swimmers who made the championship finals.
“It’s a big goal to get some people into the finals,” Meyer said. “We’ll tinker with some things. We’ll work on starts, turns, exchanges. We had a couple girls ninth last year and we’d like to see them move up and get a medal.”
Melrose took 16th last season with 45 points.
“I do think we can improve on that finish,” Meyer said. “That’s the main goal.”