Girls Swimming and Diving: Warriors hold off Cardinals for the W

Brainerd Warriors swimming and diving team rallied to beat Willmar in a tight Central Lakes Conference meet Thursday, Sept. 17, in Brainerd's first home meet of the season.

Brainerd's Ellie Mattson competes in the 200 medley relay against Willmar Thursday, Sept. 17, at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Ellie Mattson did not like her 100-yard freestyle at all.

But the Brainerd Warrior had to forget it and she had to forget it quickly because three events later, her talents were needed again.

Mattson didn’t disappoint as she won the 100 backstroke in 1:07.90 to propel the Warriors to a 100-86 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Willmar Cardinals Thursday, Sept. 17.

Brainerd Girls Swimming vs Willmar

Mattson’s victory was one of five for the Warriors and pulled Brainerd to four points behind Willmar at 72-68.


“It felt good,” Mattson said. “I wasn’t 100% on my 100 free, but the 100 back is my stroke so I just went out there and swam with all I’ve got. I got us some points.”

Gabby Chalupsky was right behind Mattson with a second-place 1:11.32.

“She looked smooth,” Brainerd head coach Dan Anderson said of Ellie Mattson. “What was nice is she was very disappointed in her freestyle race. I just said, ‘Ellie, you have to put that behind you.’ She looked at me and she should do that. She put it behind her and swam a great race and did a great job.”

Brainerd then collected a second from Chandler Niemeyer, a third from Gabby VanHorn and a fourth from CaitlinMae Hamilton in the 100 breaststroke to pull ahead of Willmar leading into the final event - 400 freestyle relay.

Needing just six points to secure the win Anderson switched up the relay teams.

“It was a strategy,” Anderson said. “We only needed six points to win the meet and if we went second and third we get four and two points and that’s the magic six so I slowed the A relay down and sped the B relay up. Actually, I just mixed them all up and figured they would be kind of equal, but both would be good enough to beat Willmar’s B relay.”

In the end, it didn’t matter as Willmar’s winning 400 free relay team was disqualified leading to a first-place finish for the team of Ellie Mattson, Alexis Lugo, Sophie Mattson and Mya Tautges.

Ellie Mattson was happy about the change as she got to swim with her sister Sophie Mattson. Sophie Mattson collected a third in the 200 freestyle and a second in the 500 free.


“The 100 free didn’t go how I wanted it, but the 500 free went better than I expected,” Anderson said. “Sophie stepped up and beat their second girl and split up that 1-2. It was a great meet.”

Ellie Mattson was also on the winning 200 medley relay team that started the meet. She teamed with Chandler Niemeyer, Mariah Alderson and Alexis Lugo for a winning time of 1:59.56.

“The medley felt really good,” Mattson said. “My relay is amazing. I couldn’t do it without my teammates. It was so fun to race and know you’re going to have a race and know you have to work for it to get the win.”

Niemeyer won the 50 free in 26.00 and the Warriors’ divers went first (Izzy Olson), second (Brenna Deason) and fourth (Sabrina Buffetta). Olson won with 227.25 points to help Brainerd to a 40-38 lead after diving.

Willmar tied the meet at 55-55 thanks wins in the butterfly, 100 free and took the lead after the 500 free.

“To have a meet like this where every race is big it just builds character,” Anderson said. “You had to step up and do the best you can. There was no hiding out there and it’s awesome when you can have a meet like that.


“Our girls are competitors. They really stepped it up. I mean from where we were Day One to where we are today it is night and day. We didn’t have a pool all summer. The girls hadn’t swum and we were rough. They've just come so far, but today I saw them competing and racing.”

Brainerd 100, Willmar 86
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Ellie Mattson, Chandler Neimeyer, Mariah Alderson, Lexi Lugo) 1:59.56; 3-Brainerd (Ella Dircks, Gabby VanHorn, Gabby Chalupsky, Lily Haglin) 2:11.04
200 freestyle: 1-Kim Gallinger (W) 2:10.34, 3-Sophie Mattson (Brd) 2:21.20, 4-Macey Whitlock (Brd) 2:12.29, 5-Ella Ostrowski (Brd) 2:17.52
200 individual medley: 1-Ava Brogren (W) 2:21.90, 3-Mya Tautges (Brd) 2:31.35, 4-Alderson 2:32.04, 6-CaitlinMae Hamilton (Brd) 2:55.49
50 freestyle: 1-Niemeyer 26.60, 5-Lugo 28.16, 6-VanHorn 28.62
Diving: 1- Izzy Olson (Brd) 227.25, 2-Brenna Deason (Brd) 190.40, 4-Sabrina Buffetta (Brd) 152.60
100 butterfly: 1-Aubrey Schueler (W) 1:06.55, 2-Alderson 1:07.00, 3-Chalupsky 1:08.27, 4-Autumn Larson (Brd) 1:12.75
100 freestyle: 1-Avery Welsh (W) 59.02, 2-Whitlock 59.18, 4-Tautges 1:00.24, 6-Ellie Mattson 1:01.25
500 freestyle: 1-Kiana Gallinger (W) 5:51.77, 2-Sophie Mattson 5:56.98, 4-Ella Ostrowski (Brd) 6:17.75, 5-Larson 6:19.55
200 freestyle relay: 1-Willmar 1:46.21, 2-Brainerd (Whitlock, Niemeyer, Tautges, Lugo) 1:46.87; 3-Brainerd (Larson, Haglin, S. Mattson, Ostrowski) 1:59.66
100 backstroke: 1-E. Mattson 1:07.90, 2-Chalupsky 1:11.32, 5-Ella Dirks (Brd) 1:13.58
100 breaststroke: 1-Ava Brogren (W) 1:14.11, 2-Neimeyer 1:15.54, 3-VanHorn 1:16.86, 4-Hamilton 1:24.91
400 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Whitlock, Tautges, S. Mattson, Chalupsky) 4:05.57; 2-Brainerd (E. Mattson, VanHorn, Lugo, Alderson) 4:06.42

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Warriors 100, Willmar 86

Key: Ellie Mattson’s win in the 100 backstroke followed by a 2-3-4 finish in the breaststroke propelled Brainerd to victory.

Conf: Brd 3-1, W 0-2

Overall: Brd 3-1, W 1-2


Next: Brainerd at Bemidji 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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