Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Helsene dives onto the state scene in style
Brainerd's Evi Helsene finds success in her first-ever state meet apperance.
BRAINERD -- At the start of the season, she would have said no.
Following her breakout Section 8-2A meet she probably would have said no.
In the days leading up to the Class 2A State swimming and diving prelims, her answer would have still been no.
Even after she accomplished her own state goal no would have remained the answer.
The person being asked the question is Brainerd Warriors senior Evi Helsene. The question, “Did you ever think you would finish 13th in your first ever state meet appearance?”
“No, I really had no idea what to expect,” Helsene said. “Making that first cut was my goal going into it. It’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing that’s where I ended up.
“I really tried to put my all into this year considering it’s my senior year. I don’t have any time left. I just really focused in at practice and I took Mary’s (Clifford, Brainerd diving coach) advice for everything. During meets, I really tried to focus in and do my best every time.”
Helsene was in 10th place after the preliminary round of the state diving competition with 166.6 points. Woodbury’s Gabby Mauder, who went on to win the state diving title, led after the prelims with 196.05.
“After my first dive, which I kind of messed up on a little bit, but after that one, I felt a lot better and I was able to nail my next couple of dives,” Helsene said. “It was crazy. Going into the meet, I really had no idea what to expect. My goal was to just make the first cut so top 20. Then I was pretty far up there and I don’t know. It was really exciting and I just kept that momentum going throughout the meet.
“I talked to (teammates Brenna Deason and Izzy Olson) about the previous years and they said they didn’t even make the first cut last year and I was like ‘oh gosh. I don’t know how I’m going to do.’ But it was a pretty big deal for me and amazing to be so far up there.”
Following the semifinals, Helsene found herself in 11th place with 250.6 points. She tallied 84.3 points in her three semifinal dives.
She had a few ups and downs, but was a really consistent 210 plus scorer for us, which for most teams that’s their No. 1 diver.
“I don’t normally sleep well in hotels, but it was just exciting being there and being around my friends and experiencing state for the first time,” Helsene said. “I wasn’t too nervous going into the finals because I knew I had a spot. I just tried my best.
“I stacked most of my degree of difficulty in the first round just to make sure I made that cut. We had a day of practice before finals and I was feeling pretty good and consistent about my final three dives. They were pretty easy dives and I know how to do them very well. I just knew I had to go put them in and do them to the best of my ability and I did.”
Helsene slipped to 13th in the finals as she front-loaded her higher degree of difficulty dives. She scored 79.85 points on her final three dives to conclude the state meet with 330.75 points.
“Being her first state meet, I really think that worked to her advantage,” Clifford said. “She didn’t go in having any expectations. I told her that the goal was to make those cuts and to do that she was going to have to dive very clean for the first round and then continue that into the semifinals."
Helsene advanced to her first state meet, by placing third in the Section 8-2A Meet held Nov. 12 in Brainerd. Helsene entered the finals in fourth place, but posted 102.10 points on her final three dives to move into third and finish the event with 374.7 points.
“Sections was amazing,” Helsene said. “It was definitely my peak of the year. I did a lot of mental prep by myself at home on the days leading up to the meet. I really visualized all of my dives doing them perfectly. I wrote out a sheet with reminders of what to do. I just tried to stay calm before the meet and prep myself as best I could for sections.”
She was in the top four the entire tournament as she was third following the preliminary round with 175.5 points and fourth after the semifinals with 272.6 points.
“She was kind of at a downturn at the time of the True Team meet I think,” Clifford said. “She maybe felt kind of frustrated with that, but I wasn’t at all just because I was seeing things in practice knowing she was fully capable of putting it all together at the right time of the season. Even at the section meet, the whole judging panel kept saying ‘she’s diving out of her mind. She’s diving great.’ I heard all of these compliments and in my head, I was just thinking I’ve seen her dive like that in practice all season. It was just really great to see her put it all together at that section meet.”
Helsene finished fifth in the Central Lakes Conference meet with 356.7 points for honorable mention honors. In her other 11-dive events, she finished fifth in the Section 8-2A True Team meet with 344.45 points behind teammates Brenna Deason and Meghan Wirtz. In the 14-team West Fargo Invite, Helsene placed fourth with 334.7 points.
“She really came onto the scene this year and I can attribute that to a couple of different things,” Clifford said. “She came in pretty consistently over the summer so I think she came into the season in August feeling a little more ready or confident. I really think it goes back to her confidence and trusting herself. This year she really learned how to do that.
"She’s relatively new to diving. She had a freshman season and then she was off that year of COVID-19. She did not come out. Then had her junior and this year.”
During the six-dive dual meet schedule, Helsen placed third with 210.2 points against Fergus. She was third against Rocori with 200.8 points, third against Sartell with 243.45 points, third against Sauk Rapids with 208.45 points, third against Melrose with 198.5 points, third against Alexandria with 206.8 points, second against St. Cloud Tech with 204.5 points, third against Wilmar with 211.55 points and third against St. Cloud Apollo with 208.10 points.
“She is a real consistent kid,” Clifford said. “She had a few ups and downs, but was a really consistent 210-plus scorer for us, which for most teams that’s their No. 1 diver. For us she waivered back between second and third place in a lot of meets.
“She also just really had a nice full list of dives. She had the difficulty she needed to be competitive.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Sport: Swimming and diving
Career highlight: Getting third in the Section 8-2A meet
Other sports: Gymnastics
Grade-point average: 3.45
Favorite class: History
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “The Parent Trap”
Favorite TV show: “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”
Favorite musician: Taylor Swift
Favorite restaurant: Rafferty's Pizza
Future plans: Undecided, maybe dive
Favorite athlete: Shawn Johnson former Olympic gymnasts.
Parents: Katie Annand and Chris Helsene
Other notable performances
Izzy Olson, girls swimming and diving, finished third in diving at the Class 2A State Meet.
Brenna Deason, girls swimming and diving, finished 15th in diving at the Class 2A State Meet.
Mya Tautges girls swimming and diving, was part of the 11th-place 200-yard medely relay and 13th-place 200 freestyle relay at the Class 2A State Meet.
Isabelle Ploof, girls swimming and diving, was part of the 11th-place 200-yard medely relay and 13th-place 200 freestyle relay at the Class 2A State Meet.
Mariah Alderson, girls swimming and diving, was part of the 11th-place medley relay at the Class 2A State meet.
Avery Duerr, girls swimming and diving, finished 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke and was part of the 11th-place medley relay at the Class 2A State Meet.
Gabby Chalupsky, girls swimming and diving, was part of the 13th-place 200-yard freestyle relay at the Class 2A State Meet.
Scarlett Anderson, girls swimming and diving, was part of the 13th-place 200-yard freestyle relay at the Class 2A State Meet.