By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
A year ago, the Mankato West girls swim team went to state and delivered one of its top finishes ever by placing eighth in Class A. This year, the Scarlets expect to do even better.
West has qualified for state in 10 events this year — two more than 2011. More importantly, the Scarlets are seeded higher in just about all of them which means the potential for scoring more points is excellent.
“I think we can do better,” senior Nicole Lohman said. “Our times are better and we’re in more events. I could see us in the top five for sure.”
West head coach Dave Burgess agrees: ‘If everything breaks right for us we could really do well. I think anywhere from third to sixth is very realistic.”
Lohman is the main reason West feels a sense of urgency. The senior is a key member of two relay teams and, with her leaving after this season, the Scarlets feels now is the time.
“We kind of feel like we have to get it done this year,” West sophomore Chantal Nack said. “Rachel Thate will be back next year and she’s pretty good but this is our last chance with Nicole on those relays.”
The Scarlets are seeded first in four events and second in two others. Burgess said it’s not out of the question that West could return to Mankato with six gold medals.
“It could happen,” he said. “A lot of things can go wrong at a state meet but things can go right, too. If we reach the times we think we’re capable of it’s a real possibility.”
Junior Danielle Nack is involved in all four No. 1 seeds going in. The swimmer, who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials during the offseason, has the top time going in in both the 50-yard freestyle (23.56) and the 100-butterfly (54.75).
Nack is also part of two top-seeded relays. She, sister Chantal, Lohman and sophomore Madison Bacon have a seed time of 1:38.60 in the 200-free relay and a seed time of 3:34.96 in the 400-free relay.
Chantal Nack emerged from her sister’s shadow this year and has become a force in her own right. She is seeded second in the 200-freestyle (1:54.65) and second in the 500-freestyle (5:13.95).
“I think before this season I was always kind of Danielle’s little sister,” the sophomore Chantal said. “This year I haven’t heard that very much. I think people realize now that we’re both pretty good.”
West’s other individual qualifiers to state are Bacon in the 100-backstroke (59.39) and 200-individual medley, as well as Lohman in the 50-free and 100-free.
The only other area qualifier is St. Peter junior Casey Rezmerski. She will compete in the 50-freestyle with a seed time of 25:04.
The Class A state meet began with diving preliminaries on Thursday and continues with swimming prelims at noon today. The championship round starts at noon Saturday. All events are taking place at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.