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Girls Swimming and Diving: 'Piranhas' will determine Warriors' success this season

Brainerd Warrior diver Emma Korhonen soars above the pool during practice Thursday, Aug. 23. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

In the mid- to late 2000s, the Minnesota Twins wrote out lineups with several lead-off type hitters, players who weren't superstars, but did the little things necessary to win games. Those teams were nicknamed "piranhas" by an opposing manager.

Brainerd Warrior head coach Dan Anderson sees his 2018 team has some of the same qualities.

"We probably don't have anybody who really scares the opposing team," he said. "When you go into a dual meet with most teams there's usually that one swimmer you know you have no answer for. We don't really have that, but what we do have is a lot of really good swimmers.

"I think back to when the Twins were called 'The Piranhas.' That's the kind of team we've got. We're going to beat you, but we're going to do it with lots of people taking points from you."

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Girls swimming and diving

  • Head coach: Dan Anderson 33rd season (26th in Brainerd)
  • Brainerd record: 192-51
  • Record at Rock Springs, Wyo.: 66-31-1
  • Career record: 258-82-1
  • 2017 finish: 7-1 CLC, 9-1 overall
  • Returning state entrants: Jacquilyn Rude, Madelynn Gibbons
  • Captains: Madelynn Gibbons, Sophie Exsted, Emma Korhonen, Libby Zemke
  • Assistant coaches: Ann Stenglein (25th season), Mary Streiff, diving (20th season), Kris Peterson (volunteer, 6th year), Luke Weber (volunteer, 2nd year)

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Minus an individual standout, Anderson said he will need to field a lineup that's 3-deep in every event and he believes this team possesses that quality.

"We don't have that one person we can put at the end of a relay and we know we're going to run the other team down," he said. "It's going to be a team effort this year.

"The girls have been training really well. Looking across the pool, in every lane we've got good, solid, quality swimmers. Most teams might have two or three really good ones in one lane and then the rest of their team they don't have much of anything. I feel good about where we're at."

Anderson's "piranhas" include senior Madelynn Gibbons and junior Jacquilyn Rude who were members of the 200-yard free relay that was runner-up in Section 8-2A and placed 19th at the 2A state meet. Jamie Wallace and Katie Streiff, other members of that relay, have graduated.

Last year, Gibbons also swam the 100 and 200 freestyles.

"We're thinking this year she might slide into the 200 IM. That's what she did when she was younger," Anderson said. "She's a very good IMer. That seems like it might be a good event for her at the section meet so that's the plan.

"We're pretty strong in the 100. Madelyn also might slide into the 500, which she did as a freshman. She could also go in the 100 butterfly. She's very versatile."

In addition to relays, Rude will swim the 50 and 100 freestyles.

"She was our best 50 freestyler and she's right there in the 100 free with (Hannah) Tatge," Anderson said. "She gives us a pretty good 1-2 there. That's where she definitely will be."

Tatge was on the 200 free relay part of last season. Anderson sees her joining Gibbons and Rude on that relay again this season, which opens Tuesday, Aug. 28, with a home meet against Bemidji.

"We had five girls fighting for four spots on that (200) relay last year and Hannah just got edged out," Anderson said. "We'll find a fourth (swimmer on the relay). We're looking for good things out of Hannah. She will also swim the 100 and 200."

Senior Sophie Exsted returns in backstroke and IM among other events.

"Sophie just always seems to come up big when we need her," Anderson said. "She's a really good, clutch swimmer and a great leader."

Junior Isabelle Prozinski is ticketed to be one of the Warriors' top backstrokers. "We'll figure out what other freestyle event to put her in," Anderson said.

Junior Emma Korhonen returns in diving along with eighth-grader Izzy Olson. Korhonen finished 11th in the section in 2017. Olson placed 15th in the Central Lakes Conference meet.

"We're always strong in diving," Anderson said. "(Assistant coach) Mary Streiff does such a nice job with our divers. Both really have the potential to make it to state."

Sophomore Jenna Host is back for her third varsity season.

"We're looking for big things out of Jenna," Anderson said. "She was our best 500 freestyler last year. With her and Gibbons in there, we should be pretty stout in the 500. Jenna's looking good in practice. She can also do the 200 and 500."

Anderson said sophomore Gabby VanHorn was the team's top swimmer in breaststroke and will be in additional events.

"Gabby also swims the IM and we might slide her in the fly this year, too," Anderson said.

Gibbons, Host, Rude, Tatge and VanHorn all received all-conference honorable mention in 2017.

In the conference, Sartell has won the last nine CLC team titles. Anderson expects the Sabres to be formidable once again. Brainerd's only loss in 10 dual meets last season was to Sartell.

"They've got two or three swimmers that we have no answer for," he said. "Then they're like us. They've got lots of really good swimmers to back them up. But it's early. No one has swam a meet yet so I'm not going to say we're not going to beat them.

"But they're definitely the class of the conference. I think we're a little closer to them than we were last year, but I don't know if anybody in the conference has an answer for them. They do have a new coach so you never really know what's going to happen."

Section 8-2A won't be any easier than the CLC. St. Michael-Albertville is the 5-time defending champion. Other schools in the section, in addition to Brainerd and StMA, include St. Cloud Tech, Moorhead, Elk River, Buffalo, Maple Grove and Rogers.

Anderson believes StMA remains the section favorite "then Maple Grove always seems to reload every year. Every year I think they're going to drop off they seem to come back. Buffalo's got a really nice team and so does Rogers.

"It's a pretty stout section. Tech's dead-even with us. The section is as tough as it's ever been. We have it nice (outstate) but it's tough when you get (to the metro area)."

Roster

Returning letterwinners:

Seniors: Sophie Exsted, Madelynn Gibbons, Silvia Schmitz, Libby Zemke

Juniors: Callie Knapp, Emma Korhonen, Sidney Miller, Isabelle Prozinski, Jacquilyn Rude, Olivia Swanson, Hannah Tatge

Sophomores: Ella Hannah, Jenna Host, Anna Just, Halle Kruse, Ellie Mattson, Chandler Niemeyer, Mira Strong, Gabby VanHorn, Macey Whitlock

Eighth-grader: Izzy Olson

Newcomers:

Sophomore: Sabrina Buffetta 10

Freshmen: Grace Haglin, Caitlin Mae Hamilton, Jula Rees, Teagan Rudstrom, Justine Swift

Returning non-letterwinners:

Sophomores: Ashlee Adams, Kyla Cross, Ava Strong, Hollie Mcfarlin

Managers: Ceci Boche, Erin Host

Schedule

Tuesday, Aug 28, Bemidji 6 p.m.

Thursday, Aug 30, St. Cloud Apollo 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept 6, at Willmar 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept 11, at St. Cloud Tech 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept 13, Alexandria 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept 15, at Park Rapids Invite 9 a.m.

Thursday, Sept 20, at Sauk Rapids 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept 27, Rocori 6 p.m.

Thursday, Oct 4, at Sartell 6 p.m.

Thursday, Oct 11, Fergus Falls 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct 13, Section 8-2A True Team Meet at Elk River 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct 16, at Melrose 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct 27, Central Lakes Conference Championship at Willmar 10 a.m.

Friday, Nov 9, Section 8-2A at St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

Saturday, Nov 10, Section 8-2A at St. Cloud Tech noon