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Park girls swimming & diving: Schank dives into state

Park junior Sarah Schank stands on the podium after winning 1-meter diving at the Section 3AA meet. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)1 / 4
Park junior Sarah Schank scored 377.1 points to win the Section 3AA diving competition and reach the state meet. Schank became the Wolfpack’s first diving section champion since 1986. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)2 / 4
Park seventh-grader Tiana Cachuela competes in the 100-yard butterfly Friday at the Section 3AA meet at Richfield Middle School. Cachuela took 11th overall. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)3 / 4
Park junior Maddy McNearney swims the first leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay in the Section 3AA meet. The Wolfpack finished eighth in the event. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)4 / 4

Park junior Sarah Schank stayed relaxed, focused on her dives and landed a spot at the state meet. 

Schank become the first diver from Park since 1986 to win a section championship at the Section 3AA meet. Schank finished with a score of 377.1 in 1-meter diving to secure the title and won by nearly 33 points.

Park diving coach Erin Miller said she believed Schank could win the section title at the start of the year.

“There’s always a little bit of surprise, but I thought this was a possibility if she kept doing what I knew she could do,” said Miller, who has coached at Park for the last six years. “It’s very exciting.”

Schank’s score at the section meet was a personal best.

She held the lead after the semifinals with a score of 263.20, nearly 14 points more than her nearest competitor, and kept it together in the finals for a spot at the state meet.

“At first it looked like she was kind of struggling, but as she got into the groove of things she looked good,” Park head coach Amanda Johnson said. “No matter what she did, she looked very, very good.”

Schank is the first Wolfpack diver to reach the state meet in three years.

“I was just trying to do my best and hoping not to fail my dives,” Schank said. “I was just happy. I definitely thought I had a chance to win it.”

Schank began diving for Park as a ninth grader, but didn’t dive for the Wolfpack last season. Miller said what makes Schank a good diver is her work ethic.

“She just has a really strong drive,” Miller said. “She’s very competitive and she wants to improve.”

Schank stayed with the same routine she has performed throughout the season and tried to stay relaxed. She’ll make her first trip to the state meet and is excited to see what it will be like.

“I’ve never been to state for diving,” Schank said. “I’m really excited to see what the atmosphere is going to be like.”

The state diving competition begins with the preliminary round on Monday, Nov. 18, at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The finals will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Johnson said Schank’s first-place finish came as a surprise for the team, along with senior Alex Minogue’s eighth-place finish. Minogue finished with 269.6 points.

“Our divers did an awesome job with the first place, which we weren’t expecting and then the eighth place, which we weren’t even expecting her to get that high of either,” Johnson said.

Miller said the focus of the whole season is on the section meet.

“I like to build them up and have them peak right now,” she said.

In the swim portion of the meet, after not advancing any swimmers to the finals last season, Park put two into the finals this year. Wolfpack junior Maddy McNearney made the B final in the 50-yard freestyle and seventh-grader Tiana Cachuela made the B final in the 100 butterfly.

Cachuela finished 11th overall in the butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 3.33 seconds — more than a second faster than her prelim time. McNearney placed 16th in the 50 free with a time of 27.22.

The Park relays turned in their best times of the season with each relay shaving several seconds off its prelim time.

The 200 medley relay team of junior Morgan Fox, freshman Julia Malecha, eighth-grader Julia Quinn and senior Sarah Forthun cut nearly four seconds off its prelim time to finish in 2:13.93 for eighth place.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Cachuela, McNearney, seniors Peyton Adams and Hannah Munson cut two seconds off its prelim time to finish in 1:49.3.

The Wolfpack 400 freestyle relay team dropped nearly nine seconds from its prelim time with a time of 4:02.51. McNearney, Adams, Munson and Cachuela had a prelim time of 4:11.48 and all swam near personal best times in the finals, Johnson said.

“You always get nervous at this final meet because sometimes they’ll either do well or they won’t do well,” Johnson said. “It was kind of nice to see they all kind of did well.”

-Nick Gerhardt