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Warriors Swimming and Diving: Warriors send eight to state

ELK RIVER — Dan Anderson is in line for a pedicure.

The head Brainerd Warriors coach is getting his nails done thanks a group of girls that surprised even him.

The foursome of Hannah McKeag, Erica Rehnblom, Sydney Erickson and Lauren Forsythe finished fourth in the 200-yard medley relay Saturday in the Section 8-2A finals. The top two relays advance to the state meet, but Brainerd’s team also qualified by time standard with a 1:52.38.

Fallon Ryan, Beth Etterman, Reilly Peterson and Alyssa Williams will join them at the Class 2A state meet Thursday-Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

All eight Warriors qualified with Ryan capturing two section championships and two school records.

Ryan won the 200 and 500 freestyles in school record time. She already owned both records, however.

“She just owned the 200 free from the very beginning and just kept pulling away,” said Anderson. “She had a nice lead the whole way.”

Ryan swam a 1:58.92 in prelims Friday, but during Saturday’s finals swam a 1:57.22. That shattered her old school record by two seconds.

Ryan won the 500 free in 5:18.18.

“The 500 was more of a strategic race,” Anderson said. “She got out in front and kept her eye on the St. Michael girl. When she faded, a girl from Maple Grove started coming up on the other side so Fallon kept her eye on her. With 100 to go, she kicked it in. She didn’t win by much, but kept the girl where she needed to. We weren’t even concerned about her pace and time. It was about winning the race. I think she’ll go faster at state.”

Etterman was second in diving with an 11-dive score of 380.15 to return to state. The junior was fourth with three dives left, but nailed her final three to move into second.

“She was just steady as she always is,” said Anderson. “She has 11 solid dives and she put them in for nice scores. The nice thing about the championship is you have 11 dives so the top divers separate themselves.”

McKeag swam a second-place and school-record time of 59.89 in the backstroke to advance.

“She’s got such a beautiful backstroke,” said Anderson. “All season long she has been solid, but hasn’t been able to break 1:03. She finally did in the conference meet and we felt good about that. To break one minute in the back stroke is a big feat.”

McKeag, a freshman, already owned the school record.

Neither she nor Ryan had a piece of the 400 free relay record, however. Until now as they combined with Williams, a freshman, and Peterson, a sophomore, to swim a second-place time of 3:42.66. That broke a school record that stood since 2001.

“That’s been one of our best relays all year,” Anderson said. “They have come through and won a couple of meets for us. But on Saturday it was interesting because Moorhead, who was right beside us swam their order from fastest to slowest and we did just the opposite. It got crazy because we were behind by almost six seconds and were in fifth place at one point. When Fallon hit the water the Moorhead girl was about four seconds ahead of her and she just ate her up. You could see it coming, but you were wondering if there was enough pool to catch her. With 25 yards left she passed her and we knew we were going to state. It was a great feeling.”

So too was seeing the unheralded 200 medley advance. As a junior, Rehnblom is the elder of the group with McKeag and two eighth graders in Erickson and Forsythe.

“To be honest, that relay, they are just so young and the best we had done all year was 1:58.0 and they really swam well to get that,” said Anderson. “That was a big swim that got them all conference. I thought, after the taper, we could got 1:54, but they believed they could make state qualifying time of 1:52.45. When they swam a 1:52.9 in prelims then I started to believe. I wasn’t expecting it but I started to believe a little more.

They swam a 1:52.38 in the finals to qualify and earn the right to paint Anderson’s nails.

“I’m thrilled with every single girl that swam,” Anderson said. “Even in prelims, every single girl dropped time. Erica Rehnblom dropped 10 seconds in her 200 IM and that’s just crazy. She dropped another five seconds in her breaststroke. These girls really know how to compete.”

Team scores: 1-Maple Grove 381.5, 2-St. Michael-Albertville 326, 3-Elk River 287, 4t-Brainerd 273, 4t-Buffalo 273, 6-Moorhead 258, 7-St. Cloud Tech 158.5, 8-Watertown-Mayer/Delano 124

200 medley relay: 1-Elk River 1:48.32, 4-Brainerd (Hannah McKeag, Erica Rehnblom, Sydney Erickson, Lauren Forsythe) 1:52.38

200 freestyle: 1-Fallon Ryan (Brd) 1:57.22, 14-Alyssa Williams (Brd) 2:07.03

200 individual medley: 1-Kasey Roberts (SMA) 2:04.82, 4-Reilly Peterson (Brd) 2:22.16, 7-Forsythe (Brd) 2:25.17, 8-Rehnblom (Bd) 2:25.60

50 freestyle: 1-Allison Schwab (ER) 24.74, 6-McKeag (Brd) 25.09

Diving: 1-Lexi Tenenbaum (MG) 485.35, 2-Beth Etterman (Brd) 380.15, 12-Lonie Anderson (Brd) 311.05, 13-Sydney Wold (Brd) 288.95

100 butterfly: 1-Courtney Grunewald (ER) 56.10, 13-Erickson (Brd) 1:04.50

100 freestyle: 1-Erin Buck (MG) 52.53, 14-Peterson (Brd) 57.57, 15-Williams (Brd) 58.29

500 freestyle: 1-Ryan (Brd) 5:18.18, 12-Allison Crum (Brd) 5:44.46

200 freestyle relay – 1-Elk River 1:37.60, 7-Brainerd (Williams, Erickson, Peterson, Ryan) 1:43.67

100 backstroke: 1-Buck (MG) 57.22, 2-McKeag (Brd) 59.89, 7-Forsythe (Brd) 1:04.54

100 breaststroke: 1-Roberts (SMA) 1:05.75, 3-Rehnblom (Brd) 1:10.74, 11-Annika Watson (Brd) 1:14.59

400 freestyle relay: 1-Maple Grove 3:38.37, 2-Brainerd (Williams, Peterson, McKeag, Ryan) 3:42.66

Next: Class 2A state swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Minneapolis Thursday-Saturday.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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