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Gators open season in Willmar

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The Minnewaska-Morris Gators had three first-place champions Saturday afternoon at the Willmar Invitational. A quarter of the events belonged to the Gators.

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Bridget Opdahl repeated as a double winner from 2010 in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Opdahl swam a 25.38 in the 50 and a 57.40 in the 100 free. She fought off tough competition from Steph Frey of Bemidji in the 50 by .22 tenths of a second and .30 tenths of a second from Tiana Molitor of Sauk Centre in the 100 free.

The junior said she looks forward to this meet more than any other in the regular season.

"It's just a lot of fun," she said. "I swam all summer with the Alexandria club and reached the Central Zone in Indiana."

Paige Entzi won the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:05.55 and beat out Miranda Kuchta of Willmar by 1.5 seconds.

"Being champions in these events and invitational is no easy task. The girls put the time and hard work in the off season this past summer to come into the season in shape, and they polished their strokes, turns and starts," said head coach Linda Hoffmann. "Swimming indoors during the balmy summer takes a lot of mental toughness."

Melrose won the Willmar Invitational on Saturday with a commanding 703 points to 451 for runner-up Bemidji. Willmar took fifth and the Minnewaska/Morris Gators were sixth.

Julieanne Helander placed sixth in the diving competition with a score of 129.40. Her highest score dives were the inward pike and the inward one somersault dives in which she scored 5s and 6s.

The coaches were really impressed with the young Gator swimmers who swam in the Invite for the first time. Eighth graders participating were Mason Schlief in the breaststroke and free, Karissa LaMont in the breaststroke and free, Meghan Thoen in the free and backstroke, Miranda Cerney in freestyle, Jena DeRung in freestyle, Emily Edmunds in free and backstroke, and seventh-grader Agnes Dieter in freestyle events. They showed poise at the meet, and it is something they can build on for the future.

"The ninth- through 11th-grade swimmers of Paige Hawkins,  Ari Maras, Darrian DuVall, Amanda Thompson, Kendra LaSota,  Colleen Rutledge, Julie Helander, Ashley Homme and Ashlee Boysen did a nice job in relays and swam solid in their events," Hoffmann said.

The 200 medley relay team of Entzi, Opdahl, Alexis Banister, and Bridgitte Weaver finished sixth. The 200 free relay team of Mckayla Smith, Julie Helander, Kendra LaSota, and Weaver placed 10th. The 400 free relay of Entzi, Helander, Banister, and Opdahl placed fifth.

"Overall, it was a great first meet after only 10 practices, and I'm looking forward to swimming against Montevideo and our home meet against Litchfield on the first day of school," Hoffmann added.

Team scores

(1) Melrose 703; (2) Bemidji 451; (3) St. Cloud Tech 396; (4) Sauk Centre 307; (5) Willmar 281; (6) Minnewaska/Morris 177

Individual results

200 MEDLEY RELAY - (1) Bemidji 1:58.87; ... (6) Minnewaska/Morris 2:07.87

200 FREESTYLE - (1) Samantha Rasmussen, Melrose, 2:04.93; ... (16) McKayla Smith, MM, 2:26.66

200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY - (1) Sydney Rasmussen, Melrose, 2:26.04; ... (4) Paige Entzi, MM, 2:32.45

50 FREESTYLE - (1) Bridget Opdahl, MM, 25.38

DIVING - (1) Morgan Kingston, Melrose, 176.10; ... (6) Julie Helander, MM, 129.60

100 BUTTERFLY - (1) Gabi Sawyer, Melrose, 1:04.65; ... (13) Alexis Banister, MM, 1:19.71; (15) Colleen Rutlege, MM, 1:29.58

100 FREESTYLE - (1) Opdahl, MM, 57.40

500 FREESTYLE - (1) Samantha Rasmussen, Melrsoe, 5:42.83; ... (16) Smith, MM, 6:54.13

200 FREESTYLE RELAY - (1) St. Cloud Tech 1:46.37; ... (10) Minnewaska/Morris 2:00.63

100 BACKSTROKE - (1) Entzi, MM, 1:05.55; ...

100 BREASTSTROKE - (1) Steph Frey, Bemidji, 1:09.86; ... (13) Mason Schlief, MM, 1:27.14; (14) Amanda Thompson, MM, 1:28.77

400 FREESTYLE RELAY - (1) Melrose 3:58.05; ... (5) Minnewaska/Morris 4:12.86

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