Despite missing three varsity swimmers due to illness or injury, the Gators defeated Montevideo 98-84 Oct. 14 to close out the 2008 regular swimming and diving season with a victory. It was the first time in 16 years that the girls in either Minnewaska or Morris recorded a team win.
"This was a total team victory," said coach Linda Hoffmann. "The girls knew going into this meet that we had to work for every place we got and they did. It was Pack the Pool night at Monte for their seniors so I knew we had to be ready."
The 200 medley relay scored a second and a fourth place finish. Relay members were Paige Entzi, Brittany Opdahl, Bridget Opdahl, and Tiana Barsness and the fourth-place team was Emily Larson, Caitlyn Parsons, Augusta Finzel, and Alexis Banister.
In the 200 freestyle, the Gators surprised the fans and the Thunder Hawks by capturing first, second, and third place. Kelsey Greenwaldt, Natalie Johnston and Dani Boutain, who qualified for sections in this event, were the top three finishers respectively.
The momentum continued into the 200 individual medley, led by Paige Entzi with a first-place finish, and Alexis Banister with a third.
"One of the most exciting races was the 50 Free," said Hoffmann. "All six swimmers can swim in between 27 and 28 seconds.
"I knew it could go either way in the point total. It was a thrilling race."
The Gators were led by eighth grader Bridget Opdahl who took first place with a 27.15, followed by Laura Moe with a fourth place finish and Tiana Barsness in fifth.
In the diving competition, the Gators outscored the Thunder Hawks 13-2 led by Caroline Fritz, Jesika Tabor and Alex Kopel.
In JV diving, Julie Helander placed first with a score of 99 points, her first time doing six dives.
"She did an outstanding job for her first six-dive list," said Hoffmann.
After diving the Gators led 48-26.
In the 100 butterfly, Brittany Opdahl dropped .5 seconds, while Alexis Banister took fifth and Hannah Berg placed sixth.
The 100 freestyle was another exciting race that could have gone either way. Entzi took second with a new improved time of 1:00.61, while Laura Moe placed third and Tiana Barsness took sixth.
In the 500 freestyle, Natalie Johnston posted a new improved time of 6:20.93 for first place, Dani Boutain took second with a time of 6:27.87, and Cindy Dahlseng took sixth, dropping four seconds.
"This was a fun race," said Hoffmann. "I was proud of Dahlseng who has been battling shoulder problems and continued to drop time."
In the 200 freestyle relay, the Gators swam a personal best of a 1:51.03. The relay consisted of Entzi, Moe, Bridget Opdahl and Brittany Opdahl. Fourth place went to the other Gator relay with a 2:01.80 finish.
In the 100 backstroke, Greenwaldt dropped her personal best time to a 1:14.28 and finished second followed by Emma Roberts in fifth and Larson in sixth.
In the 100 breast stroke, the sister duo of Brittany and Bridget Opdahl finished second and third, followed by Cassie Sandberg in sixth place.
"Cassie has had some muscle spasms and she went out there for the team," said Hoffmann. "My hat's off to her for courageous effort."
The match ended with another Gator first in the 400 freestyle relay. Johnston, Barsness, Moe and Greenwaldt finished with a 4:12.25.
"Johnston swam an awesome split with a 1:03," said Hoffmann.
The other two relays placed fourth and fifth with personal relay best times.
Alexis Banister with a 1:09.72, 7th grader Augusta Finzel 1:10.72, Hannah Berg with a 1:11.71
The junior varsity also had a great last meet.
"Freshman Chelsea Fangmeier continued her improvement efforts," said Hoffmann. "She dropped two seconds in the 100 free and did an outstanding job on the relays. It will be fun to watch her next year, with one year under her belt, she has great potential.
"Brenna Monroe did well in her last meet in the 100 IM and the 100 breaststroke, placing fourth in both events."
Kendra Harpstead and Hannah Sayles were out with injuries.
On Thursday, Oct. 9, the Gators swam at Albany, achieving several good finishes but falling to the host team 64-44.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Barsness, Greenwaldt, Moe, and Entzi took first place with a time of 4:10.26.
Entzi had a successful night. She placed first in the 100 backstroke as well, with a time of 1:08.79.
Entzi also dropped time in the 200 individual medley to 2:37.45. She placed third in that event.
Entzi was part of the 200 medley relay team that placed second in 2:09.31. Her teammates in that race were Moe, Brittany Opdahl, and Bridget Opdahl.
Bridget Opdahl also placed second in the 50 freestyle with a 27.32 and in the 100 breast stroke with a 1:21.20.
Moe placed second in the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:01.90.
The Opdahls, Greenwaldt, and Barsness placed second in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:55.18.
Fritz placed first in the diving competition with a score of 145, followed closely by her teammate Tabor in second with a 123.