The Minnewaska-Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta girls' swim and dive team opened the season Saturday, Aug. 25 at the seven-team Willmar Invitational.
"The young Gators finished seventh out of seven teams, but had some outstanding swims for the team," said coach Linda Hoffmann. "We realized this year will be a rebuilding year. I thought the swimmers did an outstanding job.
"We had some swims that girls had beat their personal best time from last year in the first meet, after only nine days of practice," explained Hoffmann. "Morris eighth grader Agnes Dieter in the 100 backstroke, Amanda Thompson in the 100 fly, and Arianna Maras in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.
"Also, after a four-year layoff from swimming, Morris senior Kendra Harpstead got back in and swam very well."
Senior Bridget Opdahl captured two first places edging out Melrose senior Amanda Warzecha by .5 tenths of a second with a time of 25.29. She also edged Warzecha and Tiana Molitor of Sauk Centre in the 100 free by .9 tenths of a second with a time of 55.78. This is Opdahl's third time being a 50 free champ at the Willmar Invite and a two-time champ in the 100 free.
Other notables from the invite was senior Julie Helander capturing a ninth-place finish in diving and the 400 free relay team of Halleigh Thompson, Bridgitte Weaver, Colleen Rutledge, and Opdahl placing eighth.
Other section qualifiers besides Opdahl was Weaver in the 200 and 100 free.
The Melrose Dutchmen swim and dive team won all three relays plus a pair of individual firsts to capture the team trophy.
Bemidji was in second place, 109 points back, and the host Cardinals were third.
For the first time, the meet allowed unlimited entries leading to 11 heats and 86 swimmers in the 50 free alone.
Team scores - (1) Melrose 570; (2) Bemidji 461; (3) Willmar 412; (4) St. Cloud Tech 353; (5) Sauk Centre 286; (6) Montevideo 133; (7) Minnewaska/Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 109
Individual results - (1st place ... local top 12, diving top 15)
200 MEDLEY RELAY - (1) Melrose 1:58.28
200 FREESTYLE - (1) Tiana Molitor, SC, 2:07.31.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY - (1) Erin Arndt, Bem, 2:27.42
50 FREESTYLE - (1) Bridget Opdahl, MM, 25.29
DIVING - (1) Kylie Grosfield, Bem, 197.0 .... (9) Julie Helander, MM, 138.85
100 BUTTERFLY - (1) Steph Frey, Bem, 1:00.83
100 FREESTYLE - (1) B. Opdahl. MM, 55.78 (4) K. Holwerda, Wil, 59.36 (6) Marin Fischer, Wil, 1:01.44
500 FREESTYLE - (1) Rachael Kulzer, Mel, 5:47.78
200 FREESTYLE RELAY - (1) Melrose 1:48.57 .... (7) Minnewaska/Morris: Helander, Bridgitte Weaver, Halleigh Thompson, Bridget Opdahl 1:55.39
100 BACKSTROKE - (1) Gabie Sawyer, Mel, 1:06.48
100 BREASTSTROKE - (1) Steph Freyl, Bem, 1:11.87
400 FREESTYLE RELAY - (1) Melrose 3:54.10 .... (8) Minnewaska/Morris: Weaver, Helander, Colleen Rutledge, B. Opdahl; 4:25.31