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Bemidji's Steph Frey caps her career with pair of runner-up finishes

Steph Frey swims the breast stroke leg of the 200 individual medley during Saturday’s state Class A championship race. Frey finished second in the race. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Bemidji coach Woody Leindecker was all smiles as he watched his swimmers perform during Saturday’s Class A state championship and consolation championship races. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS – In a perfect world Steph Frey would have found a way to overtake Ellen Bloom of Sartell in Saturday’s championship final of the 200 individual medley at the state Class A meet and do the same to Viren Solveig of Grand Rapids in the 100 free final.

Bloom proved too tough, however, and Viren was saved by the wall so Frey had to be satisfied with finishing second in both events at the state competition.

“Second isn’t ideal but I couldn’t have swam any faster than I did,” Frey said following Saturday’s meet. “I don’t have anything to be disappointed about. First place would have been nice but it is what it is.

“I was close to winning a championship and it was a fun day. And I’m happy with placing second.”

In Saturday’s championship 100 free Frey was swimming next to Viren Solveig of Grand Rapids. The two had locked horns numerous times during the past few seasons in a variety of events but Frey had never beaten Solveig in this race.

That trend continued Saturday as Solveig claimed the early lead and was barely able to maintain the cushion for four laps.

Solveig took the state title with a time of 51.32 while Frey finished in 51.81. That time bettered the school record that Frey had set on Friday night (52.32).

“Steph was closing on Solveig very fast at the end and I think if the race was one yard longer Steph would have caught her,” said BHS coach Woody Leindecker. “Steph was moving and Solveig was fading.”

Frey began Saturday’s action with a second-place finish in the 200 IM. Ellen Bloom of Sartell successfully defended her title with a time of 2:04.65. Frey finished second at 2:07.37.

“Bloom definitely brought her ‘A game’,” Leindecker said. “Steph was only 0.20 off her school-record time of Friday but even if she set another record she probably wouldn’t have caught Bloom.”

“Anyone who can go 2:04 in the IM is a very, very good swimmer,” Frey said. “I did what I could and I’m leaving the Cities feeling pretty good about myself.”

Hendricks wins consolation

Only two swimmers can say that they won their final 500 free race this season and Bemidji’s Lexie Hendricks is one of them.

Hendricks was content to keep the leaders within sight through the first half of Saturday’s state consolation championship heat but the Lumberjacks senior made her run in the final few laps and edged Madison Semler of Benilde-St. Margaret for the consolation title.

Her time of 5:17.88 bettered the school-record performance of 5:19.64 that Hendricks posted during Friday’s state preliminaries.

“It was an exciting race,” the senior said. “Early on I just wanted to stay with the pack because I usually finish well. My last 100 was really fast and I could tell that the other girls were getting tired.”

Leindecker said that Hendricks had a solid game plan and stuck to it.

“Lexie is a very patient swimmer,” the coach said. “Saturday she swam her own race. With 300 yards to go she made her move and with 75 yards left, when everybody else faded and fell off, Lexie took off and brought the race home.”

400 free relay is 10th

In Saturday’s final event Bemidji’s 400 free relay team of Danielle Hoven, Frey, Maris Jahner and Erin Arndt held its own in the consolation final, finishing second in the heat to Marshall and 10th overall with a time of 3:42.83.

During Friday’s preliminaries the foursome set a BHS record at 3:42.60.

“Everybody in the relay raced well and at the state meet on Saturday that’s all you want to do,” Leindecker said.

Hoven was the lead swimmer and the sophomore was among the leaders after her leg. Frey, who held the second spot in the relay, blew past the field and gave Jahner a one-length lead.

Jahner extended the advantage to 1.5 lengths but Marshall’s anchor, Kylie Vermeire, was able to make up the distance, barely touching out Arndt.

“It was another good race for us,” Leindecker said.

“Overall, Saturday went just like Friday’s preliminaries did for us. We had a great day and everybody swam very well.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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