Hastings Girls finish second at the Section 3AA swim meet

Multiple athletes headed to state swim meet

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 11/17/23

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, November 8-10, the Raiders Girls Swim and Dive team travelled to Two Rivers for the Section 3AA meet where they placed second to Rosemount. Many individuals and relays …

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Hastings Girls finish second at the Section 3AA swim meet

Multiple athletes headed to state swim meet


Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, November 8-10, the Raiders Girls Swim and Dive team travelled to Two Rivers for the Section 3AA meet where they placed second to Rosemount. Many individuals and relays performed exceptionally well at the meet that determines who goes to state and who goes home.

The format of the meet is, Wednesday is a preliminary round and the longest day with every team in the section having swimmers in the running. The top 16 individuals and the top eight relays move on to the finals on Friday. Since there are only eight teams in Section 3AA, all relays move on to the finals. In the finals round, the top two finishers of each race move on to the state meet. Swimmers and relays can also beat a set time to qualify for state. That means a minimum of two qualify from the section and a maximum of eight can qualify if the remaining six racers also beat the set time for their event.

Diving is on Thursday because it is also a longer evening, typically running for around three hours. For this year, 26 divers from eight teams participated. Diving is completed in one evening. The first cut is after everyone has performed five dives where the field is cut to 20 divers. Everyone then performs three more before the final cut to the top 16. The top four divers qualify for state.

Section 3AA changed a little this year for the girl’s swim and dive team, and this is a great thing. The girls no longer need to travel to Mankato or to the tuna can of a pool in Apple Valley. Now they get to travel to one of the newest aquatic centers in the metro, the beautiful District 197 Aquatic Center on the grounds of Two Rivers High School in Mendota Heights. This facility has ample parking, a plethora of seating and numerous other amenities for fans to enjoy the section meet. The participants have access to large locker rooms and the pool deck has plenty of space to move around on. This is the kind of pool Hastings should aspire to have.

To start things off, the first event is the 200-Medley Relay. The Raiders team of Lauren Jenkins, Kira Aarness, Josey Larson and Ashtyn Stewart took first place with a time of 1:51.89 to earn a trip to the state meet.

In the third event, the 200-Individual Medley, Kira Aarness placed second by .25 of a second punching her ticket to state and setting up a fun rematch with Rosemount’s Olivia Dolan. Jenkins placed seventh.

The 50-freestyle is looking to be dominated by Apple Valley for the next two years. This year, sophomore Greta Marcott blew away the competition with a 23.80 second time which was 1.18 seconds faster than Hastings’s freshman Lila Salzman who placed third. Unfortunately, Salzman missed the time cut by half of a second. Emma Dehmlow placed ninth with a time of 25.89.

Diving is the fifth event of the meet. Hastings has consistently had a very good diving program and this year is no exception. Freshman Mari Hall placed 24th overall which means she did not have the same number of dives to score as the top 16 did. Hall was followed by Greta Larson tied for ninth place with a score of 287.15. Ashtyn Stewart took eighth place with a score of 313.20 and freshman Chloe Aarness claimed the Section 3AA diving title with a score of 375.95 edging out Two Rivers senior Grace Marek who had 370.90.

In the sixth event, the 100-Butterfly, Hastings had three of the top five finishers. Freshmen Sofia Kovalenko finished second with a time of 1:00.27, earning a trip to state. Josey Larson finished third with a time of 1:01.18 and Izzy Green placed fifth with a time of 1:02.62.

The seventh event was the 100-Freestyle, again, Marcott from Apple Valley took the top spot with a time of 51.77. Kira Aarness placed fourth with a time of 54.36 and Salzman placed sixth with a time of 55.36.

The 500-freestyle is the eighth event of the evening and Izzy Green was the only Raider in the event. The top spot went to Elyse Jahn of Two Rivers with a time of 5:10.56. Green finished 14th with a time of 5:41.08.

The second relay of the night, the 200-freestyle relay was event nine. The Hastings team Dehmlow, Jenkins, Kovalenko and Salzman finished second to qualify for state with a time of 1:42.13.

The tenth event was the 100-backstroke which featured four Hastings swimmers of the top eight. Josey Larson finished eighth with 1:05.18. Dehmlow finished seventh with 1:03.67, Jenkins fifth with 1:02.67 and Stewart finished third with 59.50. just 1.62 seconds out of second and missing the time cut by .61 seconds.

For the eleventh event, the 100-breaststroke, Hastings had one in the top eight, Clara Birken. She finished eighth with a time of 1:13.44.

The final event, the 400-freestyle relay is always the most exciting event of the night, and this section race did not disappoint. A quick check of the decibel meter with the crowd and the teams going crazy put the sound at 120db (That is the same as a jet taking off). The District 197 Aquatic Center was electric because the race was amazing.

The Raiders team of Sophia Kovalenko, Ashtyn Stewart, Lila Salzman and Kira Aarness were ready to go. Kovalenko put the Raiders in the in second behind Eastview (No split times due to technical difficulties)  with a 55.59 for the first leg of the race. Eagan (55.77) and Rosemount (55.90) were right on the heels of the Raiders.

The second leg from Ashtyn Stewart was even faster at 55.36, but Eastview held on to the lead by just .80 of a second. Despite an amazing third leg of the race by Salzman (54.88), Hastings was in fourth entering the final leg of the race.

Kira Aarness was brilliant in the final leg. Everyone in the building was going nuts. The girls in the pool were putting on an amazing show and it was going to come down to the final 25 yards to determine the section champ. Eastview was posed to take home the gold at the start of the final leg. By the time the team anchors hit the 50 yard mark, Hastings was in fourth but closing the gap.

The final 50 yards had to be a blur for Aarness because she turned on the afterburners and started to move up. By the final turn the top four were neck and neck. The water was turning so violently that you could hardly see the swimmers, it was just splashes of water as they all pushed for the win. The Raiders coaching staff could not contain themselves, screaming, jumping, waving Aarness on.

The final four all finished within 1.39 seconds of each other. With the performance that all four had, they all should have been going to the state meet, unfortunately, the qualifying time was 3:39.93 and the only team to beat that was the first-place team. It truly was an amazing race to watch and just trying to put the excitement into words is giving goosebumps.

Eagan had a strong start but ended up in fifth place overall with 3:51.66. Two Rivers caught up quick and overtook Eagan for fourth with a 3:40.80. Rosemount finished third with a time of 3:40.27. That leaves the top two spots for Eastview and Hastings. With the top four teams knotted up so close into the final turn, did Hastings pull off the ultimate come from behind win?

They did! Hastings earned the win with a time of 3:39.41, just .79 ahead of Eastview with their 3:40.20 giving Hastings the Section 3AA 400-yard freestyle title.

Overall, Rosemount won the Section 3AA meet with a score of 446. Hastings was the Section 3AA runner-up with a score of 367. Eastview placed third with 355 and Two Rivers fourth with 301.

The entire section meet was exciting to watch, the fans had a great time and Hastings is sending eight athletes to the state meet. Kira Aarness and Sophia Kovalenko in three events, Lila Salzman, Ashtyn Stewart and Lauren Jenkins in two events and Emma Dehmlow, Josey Larson and Chloe Aarness in one event.

The state meet takes place on the University of Minnesota campus at the Jean K Freeman Aquatic Center on November 16-18. The state meet follows a little different schedule than sections. Preliminary diving on Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m., Swimming preliminary on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and then Swimming and Diving finals on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.