MANKATO — Last year, the Mankato West girls swim team capped the best season in school history with a fourth-place finish at the Class A state meet. Today, when the 2013 state meet begins in Minneapolis, the Scarlets are hoping to do even better.
“It will be difficult to do what we did (in 2012),” West head coach Dave Burgess admitted. “We had some very good swims at state last year.
“But there’s no reason we can’t do at least as well or better. The goal from Day 1 this year has been a Top 3 finish.”
The coach’s optimism is based mostly on the fact that the nucleus of last year’s state tournament team has returned in tact. The Nack sisters — senior Danielle and junior Chantal — along with junior Maddie Bacon are not only back but are swimming well.
Bacon will compete in two individual events, the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-individual medley as well as on two relay teams. The junior failed to crack the Top 8 in either of her two individual state events last season but plans to change that this week.
“I’m seeded fifth in the back (59.90) and sixth in the IM (2:12.84),” Bacon said. “If I can get in the Top 8 in both of those that will be more team points than we had last year.”
Danielle Nack is already the most celebrated swimmer to come out of Mankato. She holds the state’s all-time best time in the 100-butterfly (52.41) and has Class A’s fastest time in the 50-freestyle (22.82). She is the two-time defending state champion in both events.
One thing in her favor this time around is a little less pressure. She signed a national letter of intent last week to attend and swim for the University of Minnesota next year.
“Having that decision behind me frees me up a little bit,” she said. “I can just go out and swim my best and not have to worry about how it might affect me later on.”
Chantal Nack is the defending state champion in the 200-freestyle (1:51.64) and the defending state runner-up in the 500-free (5:02.31). She has qualified for state again in both events as well as with two relay teams.
“Even though I won the 500 last year I think my best chance at state is in the 200,” Chantal said. “I only have to cut a couple of seconds off my seed time to get back to where I was last year in the 200.”
Both Nacks are aware that the state meet will be the last time they swim together in high school but they’re trying not to dwell on it.
“I’ve made a point to put it in the back of my mind because it’s too sad to think about,” Danielle said. “We’ve been swimming together a long time.”
West has a chance to do well in both of it’s relays. The two Nacks, Bacon and ninth-grader Rachel Phinney are only a second behind of where the 200-free relay team was last year when it finished second in the state (1:37.48). With Danielle and Chantal both fully tapered, they should be able to make up that time and more.
In the 400-free relay, which West won last year in 3:32.63, the foursome of the Nacks, Bacon and sophomore Rachel Thate are seeded second. The quartet is about two seconds off Visitation’s top seed time of 3:32.97.
Thate has also qualified as an individual in the 200-freestyle (2:00.16 seed time) and freshman Anna Egli will compete in the 100-fly (1:01.59 seed time). It will be the first appearance at state for both swimmers as well as for Phinney.
St. Peter Saints
Head coach Mary Lager’s crop of qualifiers will be led by senior Casey Rezmerski. Rezmerski finished third in the Section 1A meet in the 50 with a time of 24:08 and third in the 100-freestyle in 53.88.
Rezmerski will also anchor two relay teams that have qualified. She will join Abby Mattson, Alyssa Lokensgard and Martha Stelter in the 200-medley relay (1:54.26 seed time) and then combine with Lokensgard, Stelter and Megan Stenzel in the 200-free relay (1:41.10).
If you go .... What: Class A state swim meet. When: Nov. 19-20 Where: University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Time: From noon-4 p.m. each day. Tickets: $8 per session for adults and students.