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Panthers finish second at Mid-State meet

Lauren Rossman clocked lifetime bests in the 50-yard freestyle (fourth in 27.93) and 100 freestyle (eighth in 1:02.77) and led off Park Rapids' runner-up 200 freestyle relay team at Friday's Mid-State Conference girls swimming meet. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)

Todd Fritze is hoping Friday night's runner-up finish at the Mid-State Conference meet at Detroit Lakes will serve as a confidence boost for the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving team.

The Panthers entered the conference meet shorthanded with Mandy Schirmers and Emily Creager out with the flu. Despite missing two of their top swimmers, the Panthers tallied 400 points to trail only Perham/New York Mills' 418 total in this four-team meet. Detroit Lakes finished third with 382 points.

Kyja Penning broke her own school record in the 100-yard butterfly with a runner-up time of 1:02.65. Penning set the school record last year with a 1:02.97.

That was one of the many highlights for the Panthers, who had four swimmers earn all-conference honors and eight swimmers and divers earn all-conference honorable mention honors. The winners in each event earned all-conference honors while the runner-up and third-place finishers received all-conference honorable mention honors.

"It was amazing how well we swam," said Fritze. "Hopefully this will give us confidence to be so close (to winning the title) without Mandy and Emily."

Katherine Erickson, Hannah Williams, Kyja Penning and Allycia Zinke clocked a season-best 2:00.37 to finish first in the 200 medley relay and earn all-conference honors.

Leah Meinert took third in the 200 freestyle with a season-best time of 2:14.73 while Alex Pederson (2:32.81) and Seri Erickson (2:37.39) added season-best times.

Zinke earned runner-up honors in the 200 individual medley with a lifetime best of 2:28.91 while Williams (fourth in 2:31.96) and Emily Eystad (3:02.98) also had lifetime bests.

Erickson finished third in the 50 freestyle in 27.65 and Lauren Rossman added a lifetime best of 27.93 for fourth place to lead the Panthers.

After placing second in diving with a season-best 322.00 points, Penning broke her school record in the 100 butterfly. Zinke followed with a lifetime best of 1:06.67 for third place in that event.

Rossman (1:02.77), Elizabeth Nichols (1:10.82) and Jessica Andersen (1:10.91) clocked lifetime bests in the 100 freestyle and Seri Erickson followed with a season-best 7:05.48 in the 500 freestyle.

Rossman, Melissa Haas, Williams and Meinert took second in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:51.45.

In the 100 backstroke, Katherine Erickson (second in 1:07.15) and Taylor Ondracek (third in 1:07.27) led the Panthers. Ellen Hoffman (1:15.06) and Pederson (1:15.44) followed with lifetime bests in that race.

Christina Mackley (1:25.85), Heather Kniss (1:27.10) and Jessie O'Hern (1:28.70) clocked lifetime bests in the 100 breaststroke before Katherine Erickson, Penning, Meinert and Zinke ended the meet with a runner-up 4:00.55 in the 400 freestyle relay.

"Perham and Detroit Lakes swam extremely well," said Fritze. "Our girls also swam well. They never gave up."

The Panthers will now prepare for the Section 8A meet, which will be held Nov. 13-14 in Warroad.