More than anything, Faribault needed to avoid disaster Wednesday at the Rochester Recreation Center during the swimming preliminaries of the Section 1A Championships.
Not only did the Falcons accomplish that by qualifying a number of swimmers for Friday’s finals, they also put themselves in a position to qualify for state in a number of events.
At the top of the heap is junior Abby Larson, who slotted into second in the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 57.24 seconds — just .01 off of first — and then qualified in the top spot in the 500 freestyle in 5:20.81 — more than two seconds ahead of the second-place qualifier.
“For her, it was just setting up for Friday,” Faribault coach Charlie Fuller said. “The girl she swam against (in the 200) was shaved, tapered, fast-suited and Abby was in her regular suit, cap and just went out and swam. That’ll change Friday and she’ll take care of business Friday.”
Not far behind Larson in Wednesday’s accomplishments was junior Verity Wray-Raabolle. After leading off the sixth-place 200 medley relay, she sped to sixth in the 50 freestyle in 25.38, only .12 seconds behind the third-place qualifier and about half-a-second off of the second-place qualifier.
The top two finishers Friday will qualify for state, as well as any swimmer that dips below 24.81 seconds, which is the state cut off and what Fuller said will be Friday’s goal.
Even if she doesn’t make it in for the 50 free, though, Wray-Raabolle is well-situated to not only qualify for state in the 100 backstroke but potentially do so with a section title after she qualified first in the event in 59.05 seconds.
“Nobody in her heat was even close to her,” Fuller said,” so that was fun to watch her go after that.”
Wray-Raabolle and Larson then teamed up with freshman Ava Nelson and junior Grace Rechtzigel to motor to second in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:49.63.
“Our goal is to try to beat that 3:45 Mankato East posted,” Fuller said.
In addition to those with concrete state-qualification aspirations, Faribault will have plenty of representation in the championship and consolation finals Friday.
Junior Kayla Kenow raced to a personal-best of 1:12.94 in the 100 breaststroke for an eighth-place finish to grab the final championship heat slot, the 200 medley relay team of Wray-Raabolle, Kenow, Rechtzigel and Nelson snagged sixth in 1:15.99 to qualify for the championship heat and the 200 freestyle relay of Larson, Nelson, junior McKenzie Gehrke and senior Mara Bauer sped to seventh in 1:45.96 to claim an additional championship heat entrant.
“All of our relays did really well,” Fuller said. “(The 200 free relay) dropped almost two full seconds there and we’re hoping to drop some more Friday.”
That’s in addition to Rechtzigel qualifying for the 200 individual medley consolation finals with her 10th-place finish and Nelson doing the same with her 11th-place finish in the 100 freestyle.
All in all, the Falcons will have 10 entries in Friday’s final day of the section meet.
“We’re really happy with how things went,” Fuller said. “Now it’s just getting ready for Friday and (try) to qualify as much as we can for state.”