Warriors Athlete of Week: Sophomore standout handles pressure
Katie Streiff Sport: Swimming Events: 200 medley relay, 50 free, 100 butterfly, 400 free relay Year: Sophomore Age: 15 Height: 5-10 Career highlight: Finishing second in 400 free relay in Section 8-2A meet in 2014 and competing at state Grade-poi...
Events: 200 medley relay, 50 free, 100 butterfly, 400 free relay
Career highlight: Finishing second in 400 free relay in Section 8-2A meet in 2014 and competing at state
Grade-point average: 3.7
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite website: Pinterest
Favorite swimmer: Former Warrior and Minnesota Gopher Jared Anderson
Parents: Brett and Mary Streiff
Since Katie Streiff burst upon the varsity scene as an eighth-grader, she's been targeted as one of the Brainerd Warriors every opposing team wants to beat.
In her first season, Streiff won the Section 8-2A butterfly championship and qualified for two events at the Class 2A state meet. Last year, she was runner-up in three section events and competed at state in those three.
Now a sophomore, Streiff has continued to stand out despite high expectations. This fall, she has won 18 individual races and has been on 18 winning relays.
In the Central Lakes Conference meet last weekend at Willmar, she was all-conference in three events and received honorable mention in another.
"I think at the beginning of the year I felt a lot more pressure," Streiff said, "but I guess I've learned to accept that it's part of being a better athlete. It should be like a good pressure."
In addition, Streiff has been the Warriors' MVP her first two varsity seasons.
"It says a lot for a person to be MVP of a high school team as an eighth- and ninth-grader," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said. "It's not like we had a lack of talent on those teams - she's just that good. The other girls recognized her as being the MVP.
"I think there's a ton of pressure on her to be honest. We've had to work on her to relax and have fun, but she puts a lot of pressure on herself. She feels the pressure that comes with those kind of accolades. It's not always easy for a high school sophomore to handle. I think she's done a great job this year.
"Other freshmen, sophomores and juniors out there are getting better, they're pushing her. There's a ton of pressure. She's got a huge bull's-eye on her back."
Streiff opened the CLC meet by swimming the butterfly leg on the winning 200 medley relay with Hannah McKeag, Kylie Lange and Julia Wallace. Brainerd swam a 1:54.64 to runner-up Sartell's 1:55.82.
"I think we were in third, then I hopped in," Streiff said. "I thought I false-started but I guess I didn't. I was super-amped and ready to go. I just tried to catch us up because I knew Sartell would be really fast."
Anderson said "Hannah gets us out to a lead, Kylie keeps us there and Katie seals the deal. When she hits the water in the butterfly, nobody can compete with her in our conference. She stretches it out to such a huge lead. She's an awfully important member of that relay."
In the 50 free, Streiff finished fifth at 26.65 while McKeag paced the event at 25.47.
"My start was too deep," Streiff said. "I was underwater for too long. My turn was not too good. That was really disappointing."
Streiff switched to the 50 free this year instead of swimming the 200 IM.
"It's been hard because mentally I don't know how to swim the 50," she said. "I just don't know how to swim it. I have more energy for the butterfly and mentally it's not like I'm exhausted. The IM is a long race - it's hard. I think the 50 is good, but it's bad because I don't know how to swim it yet."
Anderson said Streiff's 50 is progressing.
"We have to work a little bit on her turn to clean that up, but the speed's coming," he said. "That's the plan anyway - to have the speed come out here at the end of the season. It's starting to come around for her.
"She didn't have a great turn in the 50 at Willmar otherwise she would have been right there for the win. We're confident in two weeks she will have that race down, too."
Butterfly is Streiff's specialty and she stormed to a first-place time of 1:00.58. Runner-up Paige Pawlenty of Sartell finished at 1:01.31.
"I had raced her already this year," Streiff said. "I was just going into it with an open mind. I knew she would be there. I wanted to take it out and go as fast as I could."
Streiff is unbeaten in the butterfly this season.
"Obviously there's nobody better in the butterfly in our conference than her," Anderson said. "Her times are right where we want them to be. She's been training hard. She's tired. To be able to go 1-minute flat like she did is pretty impressive."
Streiff and teammates Madelynn Gibbons, Alyssa Williams and McKeag finished the meet with a runner-up time of 3:53.47 in the 400 free relay. Champion Sartell clocked a 3:46.43.
"Right when I dove in my goggles fell off," Streiff said. "I was like gasping for air the whole time. It wasn't too good, but my split was actually OK."
Anderson said he's been moving members of the 400 free relay around trying to find the best combinations.
"It really shouldn't matter what order you swim, but for some reason it does," he said. "We feel comfortable with Katie going third, but she's good enough to be the anchor. That's where you want to put your fastest person. She was our anchor last year.
"This year we moved her to third. We like putting our anchor at the third spot. We've got a good girl in Hannah to bring it home. The idea is to put the race away on the third leg."
The Warriors are off until the section meet Nov. 13-14 at Elk River. They will taper - a training phase with a reduction of work and an increase in the amount of rest - for the next two weeks.
"Yes and no," Streiff said of whether she likes to taper. "I like it because it's easier, but I feel like I'm not getting my work in and I'm not going to be ready for sections."
Anderson says that won't be a problem for Streiff.
"I'll put her through a ringer in practice and sometimes she will say 'I don't know if I worked hard enough today' and I will say 'Are you kidding me? You worked plenty hard.' She's perfectionist, always striving to get better. I'm excited to see how fast she'll be in a couple weeks."
Other notable efforts:
• Meritt Miller, girls cross country, finished 13th in the Section 8-2A meet and qualified for state.
• Hannah McKeag, swimming, was All-CLC in two individual events and in two relays.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .