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Warriors Athlete of Week: Rude emerges as Brainerd's top piranha

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Brainerd Warrior Jacquilyn Rude takes a break at swimming practice Monday, Oct. 29. Steve Kohls Brainerd Dispatch 2 / 2

In this season's preview story, Brainerd Warriors girls swimming and diving head coach Dan Anderson referenced Minnesota Twins teams in the mid- to late 2000s.

Those Twins teams had several lead-off type hitters, players who weren't superstars, but did the little things necessary to win. Those teams were nicknamed "piranhas" by an opposing manager.

Anderson projected this year's Warrior team would be like a group of piranhas. Junior Jacquilyn Rude has emerged as the Warriors' top piranha. Anderson said Rude put herself in the position.

"She's kind of been the person we've been counting on all year long, that's for sure," he said. "She's just really stepped it up from where she was last year."

Rude has stepped up this season to win 16 individual and 15 relay events. She added runner-up finishes in four individual events and in three relays.

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Jacquilyn Rude

  • Sport: Swimming
  • Events: 50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay
  • Year: Junior
  • Age: 16
  • Height: 5-4
  • Career highlight: Winning CLC 50-yard freestyle championship last week
  • Grade-point average: 3.77
  • Favorite food: Pizza
  • Favorite movie: "Before I Fall"
  • Favorite TV show: "Friends"
  • Future plans: Hopefully go into nursing
  • Favorite swimmers and divers: Her Brainerd Warrior teammates
  • Parents: David and Ruena Rude

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The highlight of her season was capturing the 50-yard freestyle CLC title by sprinting to a time of 25.42. Top-seeded Lauryn Kramer of Sartell finished second at 25.50 and No. 2-seeded Amanda Mathiasen of Willmar placed third at 25.61.

"Going into it, I knew I had faced (Kramer) before," Rude said. "I just knew I could beat her. The 50 is kind of a start and a turn. That really tells the story of a 50, and I just ended up winning."

Anderson said winning the 50 was a "pretty big deal" because Kramer came in as a heavy favorite. Mathiasen beat Rude earlier this year and was swimming the CLC meet in her home pool.

"We talked about that," Anderson said. "I told her, 'You could win this thing but you're going to have to really get after it,' and she was like, 'I know, I know.' Sometimes it seems like Jacqui would hold back a little bit in her first 25 of the 50.

"She just had a great start. She really attacked the race. It was a bang-bang finish. I think she shocked both of those girls. The 50 is like 100 meters in track. Everything's got to be perfect and Jacqui really put together a nice race.

"She's not the most physically imposing person. If you meet her, she's not very big at all but she's got incredible technique, she works awfully hard and there's a lot of talent there, too."

Rude added a third-place finish in the CLC 100. Anna Lucas of Sauk Rapids won at 53.22, Kramer was second at 55.64 followed by Rude at 56.19.

"Going into it, I knew the first two seeds were going to beat me," Rude said. "I was like I just have to hold onto third place, and I ended up doing what I was supposed to be doing."

Rude also finished third in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay with teammates Teagan Rudstrom, Hannah Tatge and Madelynn Gibbons.

"Being the anchor really has a lot of pressure because you've just got to finish and bring it home strong," Rude said. "Both of those relays are the same four on both of them. We're all very close to each other. It's just a fun relay to be on."

Anderson said Rude succeeds due to her good technique, which allows her to "catch water really well."

"It sounds easy but it's hard to coach that," he added. Some kids just can't do that. Jacqui's incredibly strong. She doesn't look it but in strength to bodyweight she's incredibly strong. She reminds you of a little gymnast. She just gets so much out of every pull and she's got great kick.

"Above all else, she's got an incredible attitude that's infectious. Everyone loves Jacqui. I've known her since she moved here as a freshman. Every day in the summer, every day during our season, I've honestly seen Jacqui have one bad day. That tells you something when I remember it because she had a bad day. She just wasn't herself. She just had a bad day.

"She always has a good day. She's always smiling. She's always just a happy person."

Rude and her family moved from Olympia, Wash., to the lakes area before her freshman year. Her father, David, is a Crosby-Ironton High School graduate and retired military serviceman. Anderson said Jacqui impressed him the moment she became a Warrior.

"She walked right in and introduced herself to me," Anderson said. "I knew she was coming here but I kind of forgot when she was coming. She had a level of maturity from the very first day I met her. I think that probably comes from moving a lot when she was younger. She made friends quickly."

In Washington, Rude said she started swimming on a YMCA club program and had no problem adjusting to a high school program.

"It's a lot different but the team was very welcoming," Rude said of her Warrior teammates, "so I didn't have a problem adjusting to anything."

Other notable efforts

• Ben Staehling, football, rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown, threw a TD pass and intercepted a pass vs. Alexandria.