Anna Just was focused on her own late Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The strategy worked for the junior who helped Brainerd’s 200-yard medley relay to first and then won the 200 individual medley and placed second in the breaststroke to help the Warriors to a 124-62 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Willmar Cardinals at Brainerd High School.
“Usually when I swim I kind of focus on myself and how I’m feeling and not what’s happening around me,” Just said. “That helps me stay focused on what I’m doing and how I’m swimming. So, for the most part, I just kind of focused on how I was feeling and pushed myself to the end.”
That approach may have been why Just was caught off guard when she saw Willmar’s Ava Brogen build a lead in the breastroke at the halfway point.
“We started swimming in the 50 and my tempo was kind of slow,” Just said. “Then on that turn to the second 50 I just saw the girl next to me scoot out pretty far so I just thought, ‘hmm, maybe I should pick this up.’ I didn’t realize she was going fast so then I picked it up, but she was a good swimmer.”
It was Just’s first time swimming the 50 butterfly in the relay, which won with a 2:02.60.
She led wire-to-wire in the 200 IM to lead Brainerd to a 1-2-3 finish with Chandler Neimeyer in second and Mariah Alderson in third.
“The IM felt pretty good,” Just said. “For the most part I was just thinking about swimming fast and beating my best time. My body hurt a little bit, but I was really just in a good mindset for the race and it just felt like a good race. When I finished, I was really happy with my time.”
Just won it with a season best 2:30.84.
Senior Jaquilyn Rude captured the 50 and 100 freestyle. Brainerd went 1-2 in the 50 as Sidney Miller finished .50 seconds behind Rude.
Jenna Host won the 200 free just ahead of Macey Whitlock. Host was second and Whitlock third in the 500 free.
“Our girls raced well tonight,” Warriors head coach Dan Anderson said. “The thing about older swimmers is it sometimes takes them a little longer for their times to come down. It can be frustrating for the seniors and juniors because they know how fast they’ve been and they’re not there yet.
“I thought they all swam really good races. Hannah Tatge really took her 200 free out fast. She was really aggressive and maybe a little too aggressive. But I was proud of her for going for it. I know the older girls aren’t happy with their times, but I think they’re happy with our progress moving forward.”
Isabella Prozinski swam a first-place time of 1:06.94 in the backstroke and the Warriors also won the 400 free relay with Whitlock, Host, Tatge and Rude manning the squad.
Freshman Gabby Chalupsky won the 100 butterfly in her first ever attempt in the event.
“I was absolutely thrilled for Gabby to win the butterfly,” Anderson said. “I just said, ‘I think you have a good butterfly and I want to see it.’ so we put her in the 100 butterfly. Then we ended up scratching our No. 1 flyer because of some shoulder tenderness and Gabby just stepped up. She didn’t show any nerves or anything.”
After an infraction on one of her early dives, Izzy Olson rallied to score a first-place 212.90. Fellow freshman Brenna Deason was second and senior Helen Knudsen placed third.
“That tells you how good of an athlete Izzy is,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, well, yes I have at the state meet one year a girl failed a dive and still went on to win the meet, but she had 11 dives to make up that cushion. For Izzy to score what she scored with that one dive is pretty impressive. She’s just a competitor.
“Diving is one of the strengths of this team. We know going into any meet we probably have the opponent covered and that takes a lot of pressure off our swimmers.”
Brainerd 124, Willmar 62
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Isabelle Prozinski, Chandler Neimeyer, Anna Just, Ellie Mattson) 2:02.60; 3-Brainerd (Mariah Alderson, Halle Kruse, Hollie McFarlin, Sidney Miller) 2:09.92
200 freestyle: 1-Jenna Host (Brd) 2:09.66, 3-Macey Whitlock (Brd) 2:11.45, 4-Hannah Tatge (Brd) 2:12.89
200 individual medley: 1-Just 2:30.84, 2-Niemeyer 2:35.51, 3-Alderson 2:36.89
50 freestyle: 1-Jacquilyn Rude (Brd) 26.41, 2-Miller 26.91, 4-Prozinski 28.43
Diving: 1-Izzy Olson (Brd) 212.90, 2-Brenna Deason (Brd) 177.95, 3-Helen Knudson 149.75
100 butterfly: 1-Gabby Chalupsky (Brd) 1:12.29, 3-Sophie Mattson (Brd) 1:14.92
100 freestyle: 1-Rude 58.07, 2-Tatge 59.86, 4-Ellie Mattson 1:00.85
500 freestyle: 1-Kiana Gallinger (W) 5:48.52, 2-Host 5:51.70, 3-Whitlock 5:57.17, 4-Miller 6:06.59
200 freestyle relay: 1-Willmar 1:48.86, 2-Brainerd (Whitlock, Host, Tatge, Rude) 1:48.91; 3-Brainerd (Sophie Mattson, Chalupsky, Neimeyer, Alexis Lugo) 1:53.23
100 backstroke: 1-Prozinski 1:06.94, 2-Ellie Mattson 1:07.81, 3-Alderson 1:10.87
100 breaststroke: 1-Ava Brogren (W) 1:14.59, 2-Just 1:16.64, 3-Neimeyer 1:18.60, 6-Edie Chamberlain (Brd) 1:28.35
400 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Whitlock, Host, Tatge, Rude) 4:01.11; 3-Brainerd (Sophie Mattson, Miller, Prozinski, Ellie Mattson) 4:06.94
Warriors 124, Willmar 62
Key: Warriors seven events and two relays.
Conf: Brd 2-0, Wll 0-3
Overall: Brd 3-0, Will 0-4
Next: Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Tech 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12