One great endingThe Wolfpack girls swimming and diving team beat Suburban East Conference foe Roseville on Tuesday at Cottage Grove Junior High 94-92 as the meet came down to the last event — the 400 free relay.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
It seemed like the Park girls swimming and diving team wanted make its last meet of the season its most exciting.
The Wolfpack beat Suburban East Conference foe Roseville on Tuesday at Cottage Grove Junior High 94-92 as the meet came down to the last event — the 400 free relay.
Up 88-84 into the final race, Park took second and third place to hold off the Raiders for the team’s second win of the season.
“That was what the girls were looking for,” Park head coach Amanda Burks said. “For the seniors, it was their last home meet ever. For some it was their last home meet before they leave for the new school (East Ridge High School). The girls wanted to win the last meet as a team and they achieved that.”
In the 400 free relay, Park’s No. 1 team of Meredith Ubel, Gabby Niewind, Alyssa Kong and Casey Wilson was edged out by Roseville’s Myranda Prentiss, Maddie Gray, Sam Nelson and Treasa Ring by less than two seconds to earn second place. Park’s Stacy Strickland, Nicole Nelson, Brooke Hendrickson and Rachel Treadway finished third in the event, less than four seconds ahead of Roseville’s fourth-place team.
The win gave Roseville eight points, but Park earned six points with the two top-three finishes to secure the win.
Burks said she was confident in the girls heading into the final event.
“Last year and earlier this year we have had meets that have come down to the last relay,” she said. “The girls know when they need to step it up and get things done and that’s what they did.”
In addition to the 400 free relay, Park’s success in the 500 freestyle was crucial to the Wolfpack’s win.
Park’s Ubel and Niewind finished first and second, respectively, in the event to turn a four-point lead into an eight-point lead with four events remaining.
“That was crucial to the meet,” Burks said. “We knew going into the 500 that Meredith Ubel could win, what we needed was Gabby Niewind to step up and beat someone from Roseville. She beat them both.”
Niewind swam to a personal-best time of 5:58.44 in the race, while Ubel swam to a 5:48.64 time.
In all, Park earned seven first-place finishes, six second-place finishes and six thirds in the win.
Other first place finishes in the meet belonged to the 200 medley relay team of Emily Oswald, Ubel, Land and Hendrickson; Kong in 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke; Land in the diving competition and the 100 breast stroke and Treadway in the 200 individual medley.
Park now must wait until Nov. 12 to swim again, when the team competes in the Section 3AA meet. The section prelims will be the 12th and the finals will be on Nov. 14. Both will be held at Richfield Middle School.
“Now we have to focus on those little things that will help during sections,” Burks said. “Focus is the key for them. The more they focus the better they will be.
“The team is on taper right now. We are doing fast swims with more time in between. This will make them go faster. Eventually they will cut back on yardage.”
At the section meet, fellow conference competitors Cretin-Derham Hall and Woodbury will be the favorites, while Park would be a long-shot to win it all.
However, anything is possible.
“My hope is to get the majority of the girls back to finals,” Burks said. “I am also hoping that we will get someone into the state meet.”