SARTELL – As Sartell prepares for this weekend’s Section 6A swimming and diving meet, there’s no worry the team might take the meet for granted and look ahead to state.
The old rule applies: Act like you’ve been there before.
The Sabres have been to sections with many participants and champions, and they’ve dominated the last decade with six straight Central Lakes Conference titles.
They’ve been to the state meet, and they came away state champions before.
“There’s nothing cocky about our team,” coach Dave Olson said. “Our athletes work hard and they’re ready to race.
“We talk about the section meet the first day of practice. In the back of their minds, their goal is to do well at this meet.”
The section meet includes swimming preliminaries Thursday, all diving competition Saturday and swimming finals Saturday. The action takes place in Morris.
“The sections are like a good practice to show us where we stand going into state,” senior captain Lindsey Martens said. “They get us excited for upcoming meets.”
Olson highlighted his divers, Madi Molitor and Claire Boschee, who both broke the school record score at the CLC Meet on Oct. 25.
Boschee is the record holder with a score of 395.75.
Distance swimmer Kendra Raths, Paige Pawlenty (a versatile swimmer in four events) and sophomore Marena Kouba are just a few swimmers Olson hopes will finish high at sections and score points at state.
Martens is one of the Sabres’ top swimmers, with two years of state-meet experience.
She’s part of the medley relay team, which is intact from last year’s fifth-place finish. It also includes Anna Ellis, Kouba and Jennifer Thompson.
Ellis made the state podium (placed in the top eight) in three events, including a runner-up finish in the 100 backstroke.
“We’ll just take it one step at a time and even though we all want state times, we’re just focused on winning sections right now,” said Thompson, a senior captain who was on the state champion 400 freestyle relay team that helped the Sabres win the 2011 Class A title.
Thompson, Martens and Kouba all are part of a running theme at Sartell. There are five sets of sisters on the roster.
Sophomore Taylor and senior Reagan Buske, and junior Nicole and eighth-grader Lauren Lindmeier are two other pairs.
Kouba, a sophomore, is joined by younger sister and eighth-grader Marissa. Freshman Melissa Thompson is Jennifer’s younger sister.
“I think once you see your older sister loving the sport and knowing that you’ll have really good coaches and they enjoy it, the younger sisters will obviously want to join,” Thompson said.
Martens was the younger sibling, swimming on the same relay teams as Lauren Martens, who graduated in 2013.
Now Lindsey is the mentor for eighth-grader Kristin Martens.
“It’s a special opportunity to be on same team as my younger sister now, and pass down my knowledge to her,” Lindsey Martens said.
Whether they happen to siblings or not, Olson said he’s blessed with great talent and individuals.
The kind that realize the enjoyment of swimming in November doesn’t come without the effort that goes into August, September and October.
“We’ve learned that the hard work pays off in the middle of the season,” Martens said. “The success at the end makes everything in the middle worth it.”
“It’s really special to be a part of it. The postseason gives us goals at the beginning of the season, and it’s fun to be successful.”