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Madalyn Winger will swim one leg of the 200 medley relay for the Cardinal girls as they open State Class A meet action today at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. (Eric Morken, Echo Press)

State swim meet: Cardinal 200 medley relay opens preliminaries today

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When the Cardinal 200 medley relay team hits the pool Friday, it will face some formidable talent as seven of the eight teams that earned medals last year return, including the defending champs from Hutchinson, who own the best qualifying time of 1:49.58.

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The Card foursome of Madalyn Winger, Kalli Bowser, Hannah Eklund and Beth Burnham will be in the third heat of four on Friday and will face both of their Section 6A foes in Sartell-St. Stephen and Melrose, as well as Albert Lea, which has the second best qualifying time coming in.

The other returning teams in the event include Sartell-St. Stephen, runner up; Visitation of Mendota Heights, third; Breck School of Golden Valley, fifth; St. Louis Park, sixth; Litchfield, seventh; and Northfield, eighth.

MINNNEWASKA-

MORRIS

Minnewaska-Morris Gator senior Bridget Opdahl is back for the second year in a row in two events, and is hoping to improve on last year's 16th place finish in both races.

She won't have it easy, however, as she competes in the second of three prelims and will face Albert Lea's Lindsey Horejsi, who comes in with the second best qualifying time of 23.69. Opdahl swam a 24.57 to capture the Section 6A title and advance.

Mankato West junior Danielle Nack is back to defend her title in this event and has the fastest qualifying time of 23.56. She will swim in the third heat.

Three other medalists return as well: Grand Rapids junior Solveig Viren, third; Northfield senior Emily Anderson, seventh; and Hutchinson sophomore Haley Cassens, eighth.

In the 100 free, Opdahl earned runner-up honors in Section 6A with a time of 54.34.

She will swim in the second of four preliminary races in the event, and will swim against Northfield senior Emily Anderson, who has the best time in that heat at 53.49, and the third best time in the event.

Viren was the runner-up last year and is the highest returning qualifier. She also has the fastest qualifying time of 53.00.

Two other medal-winners also return: Bemidji senior Steph Frey, third, and Northfield senior Emily Anderson, fifth.

The Sabres of Sartell-St. Stephen and the Hornets of Edina will attempt to defend their respective Class A and Class AA titles at this week's 2012 State Girls' Swimming and Diving Meet. In addition, six relay teams and swimmers in 12 events across both classes will be defending titles.

Both Sartell-St. Stephen and Edina return at least one relay team or individual to every event.

The State Class A swimming and diving meet began yesterday, Thursday, with the diving preliminaries, while the swimming prelims will begin at noon today, Friday. Finals are set for noon on Saturday.

All competition is held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center on the Minneapolis campus.

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