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SWIMMING: Jacks ready to take on state’s best

Bemidji High School junior Abby Yartz swims the 200-yard individual medley in an Aug. 29 meet against Brainerd at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Bemidji High School girls swimming and diving team used all of its energy to win the Section 8A title on Saturday, but the six swimmers who advanced to the state meet are nonetheless ready to get back in the water to compete.

“We are hoping to, worst case scenario, hold our times or get faster,” BHS head coach Woody Leindecker said. “But like a lot of teams down here, we’re running on fumes because we went all-in to win that section. We didn’t leave anything left for this meet. But a lot of other teams are in the same boat as we are.”

An upset over Detroit Lakes for the section title was within the Jacks’ grasp with the last race remaining – the 400 freestyle relay. Needing second place to secure the win, the team of Paige Andersen, Claudia Vincent, Nicki Son and Abby Yartz made sure to avoid disqualification and cruised to a silver finish at 3:45.93.

“The reaction afterwards was disbelief, from how far back the team was going into that meet, looking at all the season results,” Leindecker said. “Detroit Lakes handled everybody pretty well (throughout the season), and we had to make up a ton of ground going into that meet. We got set up nice after prelims, and everybody on that roster – swimmers and divers – held their place and we were in position and they hung on.”

Six Bemidji swimmers – Yartz, Andersen, Vincent, Son, Laura Davis, and Miranda Port – will compete in six different events today.

Andersen will swim the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races. She’ll also join Yartz, Vincent and Port in the 200 freestyle relay and Yartz, Vincent and Son in the 400 freestyle relay.

Davis advanced to swim the 500 freestyle race, while Yartz is in the 200 freestyle.

Swimmers who finish in the top 16 in today’s preliminary races will advance to Saturday’s finals.

Yartz, Andersen and Vincent have competed in the state meet before, while Davis, Son and Port made the trip this season for the first time.

“We’ve been working on getting off the blocks faster in our starts, and we’re gonna push the envelope on the starts and go for it,” Leindecker said. “There’s nothing to lose tomorrow, so it’s not a bad spot to be in.”