The Crimson girls won their first state meet without placing first in any event. Their strategy to just put up points paid off.
Maple Grove swimmers, fans and coach Matt Schoen cheered Saturday while watching the end of the 400-yard freestyle relay, which gave the Crimson the state team title at the Minnesota State girls' swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Maple Grove took a simple approach. Put points on the scoreboard. Don't worry about taking first.
The Crimson worked the plan to perfection, winning their first girls' state swimming championship Saturday at the Class 2A meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. They accumulated 211 points without winning an event.
"We knew it was going to be a close meet," Maple Grove sophomore Tess Behrens said. "There wasn't going to be a 100-point difference between first and second like the last couple of years."
Burnsville was the runner-up with 178 points. Cretin-Derham Hall finished third with 176.5 points despite having only four swimmers.
"We had a lot of people coming back from last year, and had almost every event covered," Behrens said. She took second in the 100 backstroke and was on the Crimson runner-up teams in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay events. "It helps that we're a close family. We feed off each other," she said.
Cretin-Derham Hall junior Lauren Weis has received plenty of advice from her two older brothers throughout the years. Adam and Zach are members of the Gophers men's swimming team.
"They have had a big influence on me," Weis said. "They give me tips. I had a tendency to die at the end of my races, and they told me to keep my legs moving."
She listened to the advice. Weis was a double winner, taking first place in the 200 and 500 freestyle, establishing a state meet record time of 4:52.85 in the latter. She broke both state marks (1:49.20 in the 200 and 4:53.67 in the 500) during the preliminaries Friday.
"This has really been amazing," Weis said. She was also a member of the Raiders' 400 freestyle relay championship team and runner-up 200 freestyle relay squad.
A look at the future was on display on the top step of the awards podium. All 10 individual events were won by underclassmen.
Eden Prairie eighth-grader Rachel Bootsma was the youngest of the champions. She won the 100 backstroke with a personal-best time of 55.94.
"I've trained really hard, and was expecting my best time," Bootsma said. Only one other swimmer (Kerry Kraemer of Burnsville) in state history has won an event (100 breaststroke) five consecutive years.
On the possibilities of being a five-time champion: "It probably will be one of my goals," Bootsma said.
Hastings junior Katie Scarsella looked up at the scoreboard after finishing the 100 freestyle. The No. 1 followed her time of 51.75, bringing an immediate smile to her face.
She looked higher on the scoreboard and saw another No. 1 after the time in lane 3. That belonged to Cretin-Derham Hall freshman Kiera Janzen. Her smile quickly changed to a look of concern.
"I was scared at first," Scarsella said. "I was wondering if I did something wrong and got DQ'd."
Her emotional roller coaster came to an end as she exited the pool, learning the two had tied for first place.
"You don't see that every day," Scarsella said.