Abby Larson

Faribault junior Abby Larson will defend two Section 1A titles in 2019. (Mike Randleman/Faribault Daily News)

Can you smell the chlorine yet?

The prep fall girls swimming and diving season is set to begin soon.

Here’s an event-by-event look at how Faribault’s Section 1A stacks up for 2019. Swimmers value performing well at the Big 9 Conference meet, but the end goal is to peak for sections in order to set personal bests and potentially qualify for state.

The section was very young last year, which did not translate to many high finishes at state. Section 1A did not produce a state champion or runner up. With more experience, the section expects to post a stronger collective showing at the University of Minnesota pool this time around.

A big change, however, is the absence of powerhouse Northfield, which moves up to Class AA.

All grade levels listed are for the 2019 season.

200-yard medley relay: Red Wing returns its entire section-winning relay team that posted a 1:50.77 to edge Mankato West at 1:50.91, which replaces its first and third legs. West took eighth at state (1:51.38). Red Wing brings back senior Grace O’Brien, junior Sammy Kriese, junior Cecelia DeJong and sophomore Teegan Beyers from a crew that took sixth at state (1:50.65). That was the highest relay finish at state among Section 1A teams. Faribault was disqualified at sections but should have a strong team returning junior Verity Wray-Raabolle in the first leg, third leg junior Grace Rechtzigel and freshman Ava Nelson.

200 freestyle: Faribault junior Abby Larson seeks her third section title after winning with a time of 1:56.95. She went on to place ninth at state (1:56.49). East’s Kaylee Sivertsen was third (1:59.61) and is the top returner.

200 individual medley: Staggeringly, the top 17 finishers are eligible to return in this event, though three are from Northfield including champion Paige Steenblock (2:13.92) and Alice Zhang (2:13.98). The next four finishers timed under 2:15 and qualified for state via standard: West senior Sarah Patenaude (2:14.35), West eighth-grader Olivia Leonard (2:14.46), Simley junior Sophia Fredeen (2:14.7) and Northfield’s Caroline Peterson (2:14.75). Among non-Northfield swimmers, Patenaude took 23rd (2:16.77), Fredeen 24th (2:16.83) and Leonard 25th (2:17.34). Faribault dipped into its JV lineup to fill this event in 2018.

50 freestyle: Three advanced to state from this event, including returning champion junior Madison Hogue of Mankato East (24.11) and third place sophomore Sophia Leonard of Mankato West (24.68). These were the only three under 25 seconds. Faribault junior McKenzie Gehrke is coming off of an appearance in the ‘B’ final at sections.

1-meter diving: The top four finishers will all be juniors in 2019, including a pair from Winona who went to state. Issara Schmidt won with a 369.5 score at sections and placed fifth at state at 359.1. Morgan Walker was second at sections at 358.35 and was 15th at state at 307.15. Walker was over 15 points ahead of Northfield’s Zibby Hanifl in third and no other diver exceeded 300. Faribault replaces Hannah Sullivan who was 15th at sections but returns Mara Bauer who missed out on the section finals by one spot.

100 butterfly: The top nine finishers from the section return. Red Wing junior Cecilia DeJong won in dominating fashion at 57.13, finishing ahead of East’s Hogue (59.59) and a third qualifier via state standard, Northfield’s Zhang (1:00.39). DeJong took third at state (56.52), Hogue took 17th (1:00.4) and Zhang 18th (1:00.84). DeJong had the highest individual event finish at state among Section 1A competitors. Faribault’s Wray-Raabolle could also be in the mix after taking fifth in sections at 1:01.45.

100 freestyle: Signe Hauck of Northfield won the 2018 title at 53.79 to lead four state qualifiers, three of which who return. Simley’s Alaina Friske (54.15) graduated, but West’s Sophia Leonard (54.21) and Red Wing’s Beyers (54.67) are back. They were over a second clear of fifth place. The four placed at state, respectively, 16th (54.97), 18th (54.6), 19th (54.61) and 20th (54.62). Faribault junior Grace Rechtizgel won the ‘B’ section final at 58.31.

500 freestyle: Faribault’s Larson goes for a third straight section title in this event, too. She clocked a 5:20.5 to finish ahead of state entrants Steenblock of Northfield (5:22.4) and senior Chloe Mellgren of Northfield (5:24.51). The top 12 section finishers return, though none outside the top three cracked 5:30. Larson took sixth at state (5:14.13) followed by Mellgren in 15th (5:23.25) and Steenblock in 18th (5:28.37). East’s Grace Busch is the next leading returner after Larson. She earned fourth at 5:30.77, just ahead of West senior Teegan Jass (5:30.8).

200 freestyle relay: East returns all but its second leg from a team that won sections at 1:39.76. The three returning swimmers are all juniors.Sievertsen, Megan Burrows, Busch and Hogue took 10th at state (1:40.24). West (1:40.51), Northfield (1:41.01) and Red Wing (1:41.23) also advanced to state and each squad returns all four of its legs. At state, those three finished 13th (1:40.83), 19th (1:41.79) and 23rd (1:42.13). Faribault was the first team out at sections, taking fifth with graduate Mikayla Savig, Nelson, Gehrke and Larson at 1:45.53 to finish just ahead of St. Peter’s quartet that all returns.

100 backstroke: This was the only individual event won by a senior in 2018. St. Peter’s Signe Alger was the only one to crack one minute, finishing at 59.83. Wray-Raabolle (1:00.13) and Albert Lea junior Jaeda Koziolek (1:00.88) also advanced to state. The three, respectively, finished 13th (1:00.63), 15th (1:00.9) and 17th (1:00.68, prelims) at state. Finishers five through seven at sections return. Faribault’s Rechtizgel took 10th place at 1:05.39.

100 breaststroke: Mankato West’s Patenaude will defend her title after her time of 1:07.36 narrowly edged younger teammate Olivia Leonard’s 1:07.65 mark. Four from the section went to state, including Red Wing’s Kriese (1:09.53). Faribault’s Savig took 10th and Bauer was 19th. Leonard took seventh at state (1:07.31) followed by Patenaude in 15th (1:10.16) and Kriese in 19th (1:10.86).

400 freestyle relay: Northfield won at 3:37.35 by over three seconds. East was second and returns three legs, Busch, Sivertsen and Hogue, from a team that finished at 3:40.43. Next fastest section time was 3:49.96 by West, which returns its final three legs Jass, sophomore Annika Younge and Olivia Leonard. Faribault was sixth at 3:52.81 and returns Wray-Raabolle, Rechtzigel and Larson. Northfield took ninth at state (3:38.12) and East 10th (3:38.12).

Reach Sports Editor Mike Randleman at 507-333-3119 or on Twitter @fdnmike.

© Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.

Sports reporter for the Faribault Daily News. Graduated from Iowa State University in 2016. Originally from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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