The Section 3A tournament finals had plenty of highs, and few lows for the Charger swimming team Nov. 15.
As I interviewed Kate Kaiser outside of Carlson Pool in the Hutchinson Middle School after she competed in her final event of the day, the 200-yard freestyle relay, I was reminded of the first time I met her.
It was almost three months ago exactly and we were standing in the same halls. It was the first meet of the season as the Chargers were competing in the Hutchinson Invitational.
I asked Kaiser what her goals were this season, her senior year, and she told me she wanted to go to state.
Now, I was asking her how it felt to achieve that goal.
Earning a trip to the state meet wasn’t an easy thing to do, and although she knew she had a chance, she also learned the hard way that things aren’t guaranteed.
In the first event of the tournament prelims, the 200-yard medley relay, the DC team which included Kaiser, Megan Nyquist, Mary Ylitalo, and Larinda Norgren knew they had a good chance of qualifying for state.
Unfortunately, a false start disqualified them from competition.
That disqualification was a devastating blow to DC’s momentum right from the start.
Fortunately for Kaiser, she was able to not let that affect her as she swam the two best times of her career in the 200-yard individual medley and qualify for state.
“We had to put it out of our brains,” Kaiser said of the relay mishap. “At this kind of meet, swimming is very mental . . . You have to look past it and work towards your goals in other races.”
“This meet is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” Tormanen said. “The girls were in great enough shape to get (to state) they swam the times to put them in a position to make it to the state tournament, and for Kate, it turned out.”
Freshman Victoria Tormanen also had a great showing. It was just her third trip to the section meet, and her first in a championship heat and she took home a sixth-place medal in the 100 breastsroke and was less than second from the state cut time.
For some, like Mary Ylitalo, however, it didn’t turn out.
Assistant coach Nate Young told me he felt Ylitalo had a strong chance of making the state cut in the 100-yard breaststroke, even stronger than Kaiser had in the individual medley.
But, when it came time for the championship heat, Ylitalo’s time of 1:13.35 was far short of the cut and what she was capable of.
It may have been that she was just to anxious. She had a long wait before her event, which is the second to last one, and during that time her anxiety was visible.
I constantly saw her up on her feet on the deck, bouncing around and staying excited. Young reminded her to sit down and stay rested at one point.
“I think there was some residual nervous energy from the prelims (relay disqualification),” Tormanen said. “She swam outstanding . . . But it looked like her legs went out from under her (near the end) . . . It was a disappointment for her.”
Whatever happened it, you can’t take away from the excellent effort she and other DC swimmers put in.
When I was interviewing Kaiser, it was right before the 100 breastroke, so she was eager to back to the pool and cheer on her teammates, Ylitalo and Tormanen.
But before she did, she told me that she would like to have someone else at state with her to enjoy the experience with.
Although there were a few disappointments, I know Kaiser will enjoy her trip to state, and I know I’ll enjoy covering it. I have never been to the state swimming meet either.
“This is going to be something nobody can ever take away from her,” Tormanen said. “She worked hard, she earned it, and in week she gets to go down and swim in the big pool.”
I think the Chargers should be proud of what they accomplished, despite a few set backs, and hopefully they can use those tough breaks as fuel to drive their desire for next season.
Section 3A notes
• The Hutchinson team won the Section 3A tournament team score with 427.5 points. Dassel-Cokato was 12th with 77 points.
• A total of 41 individual state qualifications and 12 relay team state qualifications are coming out of the Section 3A tournament.
• A total of 10 individuals qualified for the state tournament out of the 200-yard individual medley, including Kate Kaiser.