PREVIEW: Spartan swim team is one happy familySuperior opens season with win over Rice Lake
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The swimming sisterhood is back at Superior High School.
That means another year of pre-meet spaghetti feeds, “Spartan Fast Water” and team bonding.
“A lot of people think swimming is an individual sport, just because a lot of the races are by yourself, but in reality it’s a team sport,” said senior captain Kelsey Hansen. “We’re always cheering each other on, we’re in relays together and we all want to see each other do well.”
The Spartan girls swimming and diving team translated its team chemistry into a second consecutive Lake Superior Conference title last year. This year they come prepared to do the same, armed with a slew of team traditions.
So for Thursday’s home meet, the SHS natatorium was decorated with glittery, inspirational posters, and the girls had loaded up on carbs at a team dinner the night before.
“We think the carbs help us perform, but in reality it’s just a chance to hang out with each other,” Hansen said.
For away meets, the Spartans carry a jug with them containing water from their home pool. The jug, a relic from the 1970s, is labeled “Spartan Fast Water,” and the Superior girls pour a little of the water into each of their lanes before a meet. Hansen said it makes them feel like, no matter how far they travel, every meet is still a home meet.
“It’s been going on for a very long time, and we’re going to continue it as long as Spartan swimming is around,” Hansen said.
This year’s Spartan swim team is filled with raw talent — from returning swimmers like Hansen to the eight freshmen joining the team — but head coach George Lehman said overall depth has decreased for Superior.
Many of last year’s seniors could be counted on to pick up points with third- or fourth- place finishes at every meet, Lehman said. Those points were crucial for team victories.
“Most of the girls we lost from last year were solid, solid relay swimmers and solid depth swimmers,” Lehman said.
Superior also lost a big slice of its diving talent with the graduation of two LSC All-Conference divers — Kayla Bedard and Taylor Christner.
Key athletes back for Superior are seniors Hansen, Kacie Heinen and Brianna Jensen; juniors Victoria Johnson and Grace Elonen; and sophomore Nicole Hansen. Both Hansen sisters and Johnson earned LSC All-Conference recognition last year in individual events, while Elonen teamed with Kelsey Hansen and Johnson to earn All-Conference nods in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
In all, the Spartans have 14 girls returning from last year’s team. Twelve girls are new to the team this year, including eight freshmen.
“We have a lot of new, fresh swimmers who, when they develop their skills, will become a lot stronger and a lot faster through the years,” said Heinen, Superior’s other senior captain.
Kaitlin Heinen, Kacie’s freshman sister, is among those expected to make a splash for the Spartans.
“It’s exciting because she’s such a strong swimmer and such a hard worker,” Kacie Heinen said. “I’m just really excited that I get a chance to swim with her.”
Other freshmen joining the team who have some experience swimming at the YMCA level are Kjersten Lisak and Kaitlin Sanders. Lisak should help the team right away in distance events, and Sanders has good experience in the breaststroke.
Lehman said Superior will be strong in the freestyle relays and most of the shorter freestyle events this season, and moderately strong in the medley relays.
“We’ll have some holes that we’re trying to fill, so it will depend where we put people,” Lehman said. “It’s like whack-a-mole; if I put people here we’ll have holes someplace else.”
Within the conference, Lehman expects the LSC title to come down to a scramble between Proctor and Superior. The combined Denfeld-Central team has some strong swimmers, but Lehman thinks Proctor will provide the biggest challenge.
“We’re excited but also nervous just because we have so many new swimmers that haven’t really swam before,” Kacie Heinen said. “It’s good to have the motivation of the posters and of teammates supporting each other.”
“We’re always there for each other,” Hansen added. “It’s just nice knowing that I have 25 other sisters to go to.”
Many of the top times in SHS girls swimming and diving have stood since the 1990s. The last time a Superior girl broke an all-time record was 2003, when Ilee Smith moved to the top of the list in the 100 butterfly.
“Hopefully some of those records will be broken,” Kelsey Hansen said. “It’s been a long time, so that’s one of my goals this year and definitely one of the team goals.”
Johnson is the latest swimmer to challenge for a record, breaking into the top three in the 100 backstroke last year.
Hansen will likely move up the list in the 100 and 200 freestyle, Lehman said, and she has the potential to set a new all-time mark. The girls 200 and 400 freestyle relays teams also hope to update records in those events.
2011 Spartan girls swim and dive team
Seniors: Kaitlyn Corbett, Kelsey Hansen, Stephanie Hansen, Kacie Heinen, Brianna Jensen, Kaitlyn Mergen.
Juniors: Musea Broberg, Maria Drolson, Grace Elonen, Victoria Johnson, Alyssa Mentzel, Hannah Nelson, Madelyn Swanson
Sophomores: Paige Barnard, Nicole Dzikonski, Karrigan Grimstad, Nicole Hansen, Ashley Kittleson,
Freshmen: Britta Bergstrom, Savannah Berthiaume, Gabrielle Gidley, Kaitlin Heinen, Kjersten Lisak, Kaitlin Sanders, Ali Scott, Julie Snyder.
Superior 91, Rice Lake 79
(First place and Superior results)
200 medley relay — 1. Superior A (Victoria Johnson, Nicole Hansen, Kaitlin Heinen, Kelsey Hansen), 2:03.75; 3. Superior B (Kacie Heinen, Kaitlin Sanders, Grace Elonen, Stephanie Hansen), 2:13.48; 6. Superior C (Nicole Dzikonski, Ashley Kittleson, Brianna Jensen, Karrigan Grimstad), 2:46.81.
200 freestyle — 1. Allison Gargulak, Rice Lake, 2:11.95; 2. K. Hansen, SHS, 2:15.66; 3. Kjersten Lisak, SHS, 2:26.53; 4. Sanders, SHS, 2:28.50; 9. Britta Bergstrom, SHS, 3:19.14; 10. Paige Barnard, SHS, 3:26.83.
200 medley — 1. Kaitlin Heinen, SHS, 2:28.69; 5. N. Hansen, SHS, 2:53.66.
50 freestyle — 1. Johnson, SHS, 27.63; 2. Elonen, SHS, 27.84; 4. S. Hansen, SHS, 31.53; 8. Maria Drolson, SHS, 34.78; 10. Jensen, SHS, 35.38; 11. Hannah Nelson, SHS, 35.78; 12. Kaitlyn Corbett, SHS, 36.23; 14. Dzikonski, SHS, 37.21; 15. Ali Scott, SHS, 37.40; 16. Musea Broberg, SHS, 37.43; 17. Julie Snyder, SHS, 37.83; 19. Alyssa Mentzel, SHS, 47.70.
1-meter diving — 1. K. Grimstad, SHS, 141.15; 2. Kaitlyn Mergen, SHS, 52.85; 3. Gabby Gidley, SHS, 19.55.
100 butterfly — 1. Kaitlin Heinen, SHS, 1:05.63 (6th on all-time SHS list; 2. Elonen, SHS, 1:15.17; 6. Nelson, SHS, 1:45.56.
100 freestyle — 1. K Hansen, SHS, 59.77; 3. Kacie Heinen, SHS, 1:05.56; 6. S Hansen, SHS, 1:12.89; 9. Drolson, SHS, 1:19.68; 12. Savannah Berthiaume, SHS, 1:26.80; 13. Barnard, SHS, 1:30.95.
500 freestyle — 1. A. Gargulak, Rice Lake, 5:55.81; 2. Lisak, SHS, 6:47.23; 5. Jensen, SHS, 8:42.57.
200 freestyle — 1. Rice Lake A (Katie Gargulak, Bryn Rademaker, Shanyn Ambrozaitis, A. Gargulak), 1:57.08; 2. Superior A (Grimstad, N. Hansen, Kittleson, Lisak), 2:06.67; 5. Superior B (Bergstrom, Barnard, Corbett, Nelson), 2:33.46; 6. Superior C (Broberg, Mentzel, Scott, Snyder), 2:45.43.
100 backstroke — 1. Johnson, SHS, 108.19; 4. Kacie Heinen, SHS, 1:15.20; 6. Dzikonski, SHS, 1:34.60.
100 breaststroke — 1. Jennifer Terrell, Rice Lake, 1:16.67; 2. Sanders, SHS, 1:17.73; 3. N. Hansen, SHS, 1:19.86; 6. Kittleson, SHS, 1:43.17.
400 freestyle relay — 1. Superior A (Kaitlin Heinen, Johnson, Elonen, K. Hansen), 4:01.39; 3. Superior B (S. Hansen, Jensen, Lisak, Kacie Heinen), 4:47.09; 6. Superior C (Nelson, Drolson, Grimstad, Dzikonski), 5:38.49; 8. Superior D (Broberg, Berthiaume, Bergstrom, Corbett), 5:50.83; 9. Superior E (Barnard, Scott, Snyder, Mentzel), 7:02.27.