WARROAD – During Friday’s Section 8A swimming preliminaries Bemidji’s Kayla Hewitt tied with Crookston’s Kate MacGregor for the eighth and final spot in Saturday’s championship heat.
By rule, the two had a swim-off to decide who would make the finals and who would be dumped into the consolation bracket.
“It was exciting,” said BHS coach Woody Leindecker. “The spotlight was on this race and everybody was cheering.”
After Hewitt defeated MacGregor in the one-on-one battle she was swamped by her teammates who appreciated the extra effort.
“It was a great performance for Kayla and the momentum she gained for us in that race carried into Saturday’s finals,” Leindecker said.
The Lumberjacks didn’t waste that momentum. In the first race of Saturday’s finals Erin Arndt, Danielle Hoven, Libby McRae and Steph Frey won the 200 medley relay by two seconds to qualify for the state meet. And the Lumberjacks never looked back.
Bemidji successfully defended its Section 8A swimming and diving crown, scoring 502.5 points and easily outdistancing its nearest rival, Park Rapids, which tallied 434.5.
In addition to the section crown the Jacks advanced all three relays to the state meet plus eight individuals.
The top two individuals in each race, the top two relay teams and the top four divers all punched their tickets to next week’s state meet at the University of Minnesota pool.
“On Saturday we hit the water with our guns blazing,” Leindecker said. “We wore our fast suits, we had the right body language and we took care of business.”
Bemidji’s individual state qualifiers include Lexie Hendricks in the 200 free and 500 free, Frey in the 200 individual medley and 100 free, Arndt in the 200 IM, Kylei Grosfield in diving, McRae in the 100 fly and Alyssa Wright in the 500 free.
Saturday’s state-bound 200 free relay unit included Morgan Williams, Katie Krause, Maris Jahner and Frey while the 400 free relay team consisted of Hoven, Jahner, Arndt and Williams.
“One of our main missions was to qualify all of the relays for state and we accomplished that mission,” Lendecker said.
“It was a great day.”