East West G Swim 2

Mankato West’s Olivia Leonard will be swimming in four events at the Class A meet, which begins Thursday at the University of Minnesota.

Olivia Koeneman was swimming the distance freestyle events early in the season, and coach Dave Burgess said they weren’t seeing the improvement.

So, they made a change.

“We thought, let’s get her in the shorter races, and she responded really well,” Burgess said. “At the sections, she dropped quite a bit of time. She had a great section meet.”

Koeneman is one of five Scarlets competing in this week’s Class A meet at the University of Minnesota, joining teammates Olivia Leonard, Catherine Bittner, Ella Lee and Lucy Vogt.

Last year, Leonard received all-state honors in the 200-yard individual medley, placing fifth. If the seeds hold, maybe she can add another all-state finish as part of the 200 medley relay, which is seeded second.

“I think the girls have realized that they have a good chance at state and are really excited,” Burgess said. “It’s going to be interesting.”

Leonard was the section champion in the 200-yard individual medley and runner-up in the 100 backstroke. She is seeded fourth in the IM and 13th in the 100 backstroke.

The Scarlets will have two relays competing at the state meet: the 200 medley team of Leonard, Bittner, Lee and Vogt and the 400 freestyle team of Vogt, Koeneman, Lee and Leonard.

Leonard, Bittner and Lee were on the 200 medley team that finished ninth at last season’s state meet and is seeded second this time. The 400 freestyle is seeded sixth.

Koeneman is seeded fifth in the 50 freestyle, one spot ahead of Vogt, who is also seeded 13th in the 100 freestyle. Lee is seeded eighth in the 100 butterfly.

“You never know when teams taper, whether they need to be fast at the section meet just to get to state or if they taper for the state meet,” Burgess said.

Mankato East/Loyola’s Avery Schuh will compete in the 50 freestyle, having advanced by beating the state qualifying standard at the section meet. She is seeded 13th for the state meet.

St. Peter’s Hannah Denzer, who was named the Section 1A swimmer of the year, set meet records in the 200 freestyle (1:52.08) and 500 freestyle (5:06.56). She is seeded first in the 200 freestyle and second in the 500 freestyle.

TCU’s Ella Schmiesing will compete in the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle, where she is seeded fourth and ninth, respectively.

The state meet begins with preliminaries on Thursday, and finals will be held Friday.

Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.

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