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Swim and Dive: Alexandria girls finish as one of Section 6A's best; Strong group headed to state meet

Alexandria placed second at the Section 6A meet and qualified a handful for the Class A state meet. The Alexandria coaching staff took home some Section 6A honors as well on Saturday. Grace Urke, Jisella Haskamp, Alaina Guenther and Brooklyn Millward broke a school record in the 200 medley relay and qualified for the state meet.

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Alexandria's Erica Johnson smiles after receiving her second place medal at the Section 6A diving meet on Nov. 11, 2022. She and teammate Lauren Hornstein (pictured to her left) finished in the top three at the meet and qualified for the state meet.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria girls swim and dive team finished as one of Section 6A’s best with second place at the Section 6A meet on Saturday at Discovery Middle School and will be sending a handful of athletes to the 2022 Class A State Tournament from Nov. 16-18, 2022.

“We have worked really hard all season,” Alexandria head coach Crysta Krause said. “We are really proud of them. They had incredible times, dropping two, three, or four seconds from prelims and finals, which is really nice. There were just a lot of really close races. That makes it more fun and more intense.”

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Alexandria's Alaina Guenther swims during the 200 medley relay at the Section 6A meet on Nov. 12, 2022. Guenther, Grace Urke, Jisella Haskamp and Brooklyn Millward posted a school record breaking time of 1:51.15 and finished second at the section meet. That time was good enough to qualify them for the state meet.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Sophomore Grace Urke, junior Jisella Haskamp, senior Alaina Guenther and senior Brooklyn Millward broke a school record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:51.15. The previous school record was set in 1996 (1:52.31).

“That was not a record that was on our radar,” Krause said. “They had an incredible time drop from the prelims (Thursday) to the finals (Saturday) and a drop from the conference meet on Oct. 29 to now.”

The time of 1:51.15 placed them second, and punched the Cardinals' ticket to the state meet in this event.

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Krause said they didn’t put these four together consistently in the relay until recently.

“We hadn't put together in that really, very often this year,” Krause said. “Going into the conference meet, it was the girls who brought it up. They swam really well at the conference meet, and we said, let's give it a try at sections. With Grace in the top in the backstroke, Jisella, whose an amazing breaststroker, Alaina in the fly and Brooklyn in 50 free, who had never had a split of 24 before, it overall made for an incredible performance. Brooklyn tapered so well, and that was an amazing split.”

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Alexandria sophomore Grace Urke swims during the first split of the 200 medley relay at the Section 6A meet on Nov. 12, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

The top two finishers in each event make it to the state meet, along with individuals or teams who post a faster time than the state standard time in their respective event.

These four also won the 400 freestyle relay on Saturday with a time of 3:42.37.

“They swam a really nice race,” Krause said.

Haskamp won the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.55, and Millward finished second (2:00.28) in the 200 freestyle behind Laney Schnieder of Rocori (2:00:26).

The Cardinals nearly earned a couple more spots at the state meet as Urke finished third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:01.89), senior Summer Overland placed third in the 500 freestyle (5:31.15) and fourth in the 200 freestyle (2:03.41), and senior Emma Bugher placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.49).

Alexandria scored 353 points in the meet, while Melrose Area won 406 points.

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Melrose Area head coach Nathan Meyer and Krause were named Section 6A co-head coaches of the year.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers as having done well and coached well, but the credit goes to the girls here,” Krause said. “I think it's great to be sharing that title. The Melrose team did quite well this year too.”

Krause was named the coach of the year in 2021 after guiding Alexandria to its first section title since 1995.

Alexandria’s Aaron Rooney won the Section 6A diving coach of the year award.

“I always toss that award right back to the athletes,” he said. “It obviously feels great, but I'm just kind of helping them along their journey. It's all about the athletes, how hard they're working and how much they're doing. So kudos to them.”

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Alexandria's Lauren Hornstein takes one of her final jumps at the Section 6A meet on Nov. 11, 2022. Hornstein and Johnson qualified for the state meet by placing in the top three at he section meet.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Rooney was also named the 2021 Section 6A diving coach of the year.

The Cardinals are sending two divers to the state meet, sophomore Lauren Hornstein and junior Erica Johnson.

“We’ve both worked so hard for this in the offseason,” Johnson said after Friday’s diving meet. “Getting those medals around our necks feels really good.”

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“We definitely worked really hard for this moment,” Hornstein said.

Hornstein placed third in Friday’s Section 6A diving competition, with a score of 348.60, while Johnson earned second with a score of 380.60.

Hornstein and Johnson competed in the 2021 state meet and placed in the top 15 (Johnson - 11th, 318.75; Hornstein - 15th, 305.40).

“There was a really strong field in this year’s section meet,” Rooney said. “Historically, about 330 points is what it takes for fourth place to make it to state, and this year, 344 points earned fifth place.”

Rooney said that Johnson started off strong and didn’t miss a bit, while Hornstein finished strong to earn her third place finish.

“Erica did very well all day; she really didn't have any dives that weren't too far off of her potential,” Rooney said. “Lauren was off to a rough start, but she battled back in her last three rounds to secure that third place. It was cool to see the mindset going into the finals, she knew she needed three good ones, and she hit the three she needed to at the right time. I’m really happy with all the girls' performances. Senior Hannah Skillings had the best meet of her life, as well as scoring 303.25. She had a goal of scoring over 300 points. Hayden Underwood worked hard all season; she worked very hard all year to just even make the meet, get the number of dives that she needed, and she performed really well.”

Hornstein and Johnson said that consistency would be key to another successful performance at the state meet.

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The 2022 Alexandria girls swim and dive team poses with their second place trophy at the Section 6A meet on Nov. 12, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Haskamp, Millward, Urke and Guenther all swam in the 2021 state meet as well.

Millward, Guenther, Haskamp and then-senior Hattie Galloway placed 11th (1:40.71) in the 200 freestyle and 18th in the 400 relay (3:48.13) at last year’s state meet. These were two of Haskamp’s three top-18 finishes at last year’s state meet.

‘It's fun seeing them go back to it, they start to get to know the facility, and they start to kind of get to know the routine of where we stay and what we do,” Krause said. “And so it's fun to see them being able to embrace a little bit more. When you go the first time, it's pretty nerve-wracking to be in that setting and that environment. So to have them be able to repeat it and kind of know how things go is big.”

The 2022 MSHSL Class A Swim and Dive State Tournament begins on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis at Noon with diving prelims. Swimming prelims begin on Thursday, Nov. 17, at Noon.

SECTION 6A TEAM SCORES - 1. Melrose Area, 406; 2. Alexandria, 353; 3. Rocori, 345; 4. Sauk Centre, 308.5; 5. Albany, 218.5; 6. Morris Minnewaska Area, 168; 7. Little Falls, 155; 8. St. Cloud Apollo, 82; 9. Holdingford, 73

SECTION 6A STATE QUALIFIERS - 200 MEDLEY (state standard time - 1:53.52) - 1. Brooke Ruoff, Hallie Drossel, Paige Gruber, Kaydence Bertram (Melrose) 1:50.42; 2. Grace Urke, Jisella Haskamp, Alaina Guenther, Brooklyn Millward (Alexandria) 1:51.15; 3. Stella Schirmers, Brooke Bromenshenkel, Addison Bick, Megan Heveron (Sauk Centre), 1:51.23; 200 FREE (state standard time - 1:59.18) - 1. Laney Schneider (Rocori), 2:00.26; 2. Brooklyn Millward (Alexandria), 2:00.28, 2nd; 200 IM (state standard time 2:15.22); 1. Hallie Drossel (Melrose), 2:10.87, 1st; 2. Ariana Outhwaite (Rocori) 2:14.29; 50 FREE (state standard time 24.99)- 1. Megan Willenbring (Rocori), 24.70; 2. McKenzie Luetmer (Morris-Minnewaska) 25.02; 100 FLY (state standard time 1:00.50) - 1. Stella Schirmers (Sauk Centre) 59.72; 2. Megan Willenbring (Rocori), 1:01.28; 100 FREE (state standard time 54:53) - 1. Jisella Haskamp (Alexandria) 53.55; 2. Megan Heveron (Sauk Centre) 54.47; 500 FREE (state standard time 5:24.19) - 1. Ariana Outhwaite (Rocori) 5:24.42; 2. Emily McLachlan (Albany) 5:28.25; 200 FREE RELAY (state standard time 1:41.81) - 1. Hallie Drossel, Brooke Ruoff, Paige Gruber, Kaydence Bertram (Melrose) 1:40.81; 2. Laney Schneider, Chelse Willenbring, Ariana Outhwaite, Megan Willenbring, 1:40.85; 100 BACK (state stan (state standard time 1:01.15) - 1. Stella Schirmers (Sauk Centre) 58.91; 2. Katie Spanier (Albany) 1:01.03; 100 BREASTSTROKE (state standard time 1:09.43) 1. Hallie Drossel (Melrose) 1:04.72; 2. Brooke Bromenshenkel (Sauk Centre) 1:09.17; 400 FREE (state standard time 3:44.83) - 1. Alaina Guenther, Grace Urke, Brooklyn Millward, Jisella Haskamp (Alexandria) 3:42.37; 2. Laney Schneider, Chelsea Willenbring, Ariana Outhwaite, Megan Willenbring (Rocori) 3:43.89; 1 METER DIVE - 1. Cece Woods (Rocori) 393.80; 2. Erica Johnson (Alexandria) 380.60; 3. Lauren Hornstein (Alexandria) 348.60; 4. Katelyn Motter (Rocori) 347.10

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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