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SWIMMING: Bemidji seniors eager to compete at state meet

Bemidji High School assistant swim coach Kristen McRae, left, discusses Tuesday night’s practice as the team prepares to compete in the state swim meet on Thursday. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – When the Bemidji swimmers hit the starting block during Friday’s state meet preliminaries four seniors will be among the nine Lumberjacks who will represent their school and community.

Bemidji’s trip to the state Class A meet actually begins Thursday when diver Kylei Grosfield will step onto the board. The top 16 divers after the preliminary round will advance to Saturday’s championship and consolation heats, as will the top 16 swimmers and relay teams following Friday’s action.

The BHS senior contingent features a mixture of state meet rookies and wily veterans. Among the former is Katie Krause who will be making her first appearance at state as a member of the 200 free relay. Included in the latter category are Lexie Hendricks and Steph Frey who have multiple state trips on their high school athletic resumes.

“This is my first time at state and I’m excited. I’ll probably also be nervous but that will be a good thing,” Krause, who will swim the second leg of the 200 free relay team, said. “My job is to keep the pace and try to improve our position.”

Maris Jahner qualified for state as a freshman when she was a member of the 200 free relay team. This year she will end her career at state, swimming in the 200 free and 400 free relays.

“I’ve waited three years to get back to state,” Jahner, who swims the third leg in both relays, said. “My job as the third is to get the lead or extend our lead as far as possible so we can make it easier for the anchor.

“I think having to wait three years to go back to state makes this year more meaningful,” Jahner added. “Swimming at state again is a terrific way to end my high school career.”

Hendricks made her first state trip as a sophomore and for the second straight year will compete in the 200 free and 500 free.

A year ago she failed to make the top 16 in the 200 but placed 16th in the 500.

“My goal is to make the top eight in both events this year,” Hendricks said. “I think being at state before will help me because I won’t be so nervous. I know what to expect and that will allow me to be better prepared.

“It’s a weird feeling knowing that this is my last year,” the senior said. “The time has just flown by, especially this year. And I would like to end my career by improving on my section times.”

Frey will swim in the maximum four events at state. Individually she qualified in the 200 individual medley and 100 free and the state veteran will also swim the anchor in the medley relay and 400 free relay.

A year ago Frey placed third in the 200 IM and 100 free and she is hoping to improve upon those finishes.

“So far in my career I have some third-place medals and a seventh-place medal,” Frey said, “and I’d like to do better than a white medal this year.”

Based on the section times posted by the state entrants, Frey is seeded ninth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 100 free. As everyone discovered last year, however, seedings mean nothing.

“Last year I came into both of my individual races seeded 12th and I bumped up to third in both of them,” Frey said. “I wasn’t shaved or tapered for the section meet like many of the other girls who made state were so I know I can improve on those seeds. In swimming, if you have a lane it’s anybody’s game.”

Also representing the Lumberjacks in individual events at state will be Erin Arndt in the 200 free, Libby McRae in the 100 fly and Alyssa Wright in the 500 free.

In the 200 free relay Krause, Jahner and Frey will be joined by Morgan Williams. Danielle Hoven, Jahner, Arndt and Williams advanced to state in the 400 free relay while the medley relay quartet includes Arndt, Hoven, McRae and Frey.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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