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Hovelsrud places 14th at state swim meet

Park Rapids' Maija Hovelsrud placed 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:09.31 during Friday's finals of the state Class A girls swimming meet. Joe Brown / Forum News Service

Maija Hovelsrud fulfilled her mission by qualifying for the consolation finals and placing 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke at the state Class A girls swimming meet.

The Park Rapids junior advanced to the consolation finals by placing 13th during Thursday's preliminaries at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center with a personal-best time of 1:09.05.

During Friday's finals, Hovelsrud clocked a 1:09.31 to finish in 14th place to score 3 points.

Hovelsrud entered the Section 8A meet with a season-best 1:14.95 as the No. 3 seed before dropping to a 1:10.71 during preliminaries to finish second and down to a 1:10.49 in the finals to stay in second place and qualify for state. Hovelsrud entered the state meet as the No. 24 seed out of 26 qualifiers.

Hovelsrud was in a heat with only two other swimmers during Thursday's state preliminaries. CEC's Rachel Gorski was second in that heat in 1:10.79 while International Falls' Emily Saari was third in 1:12.94. Hovelsrud had splits of 31.99 and 37.06 to clock her personal-best time.

After winning her heat in her state debut, Hovelsrud had to watch 23 other swimmers in three other heats to see if she would advance.

"Maija had already dropped four seconds (at sections), but I thought she could get a little faster. I didn't expect her to drop another second-and-a-half," said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. "I told her going in to use being in the first heat to your advantage and get out in front. When she went 1:09.05, I knew she had a chance. She looked really good for her first state meet. She swam a great race."

Hovelsrud was able to move ahead of 11 swimmers to advance to the consolation finals. Among those swimmers was Thief River Falls' Marley Nelson, who won the Section 8A title in 1:09.51. Nelson failed to qualify for the state finals after placing 21st during Thursday's preliminaries with a 1:10.19.

Northfield's Sophia Nevin had the fastest preliminary time of 1:03.58 while Hutchinson's Mackenna Stuber claimed the final spot in the finals with an eighth-place time of 1:07.54. The swimmers who finished ninth through 16th advanced to the consolation finals.

Hovelsrud also swam well in the finals with splits of 32.69 and 36.62 to finish in 14th place. Nevin claimed the state title in 1:03.67.

Her preliminary time of 1:09.05 moves Hovelsrud into the No. 4 spot in school history behind Beth Morris (1:06.76), Kayla Andersen (1:07.35) and Mandy Schirmers (1:08.10).

"We were hoping Maija would maintain or go a little faster in the finals," said Fritze. "We wanted her to try and stay with the pack. She had a slower first 50 than she had on Thursday, but she had a good back 50 and went faster on the back 50 than she did on Thursday. She stepped up and had a great state meet."

100 breaststroke: 1, Sophia Nevin, Northfield, 1:03.67. 2, Bre Bresnahan, Faribault, 1:05.60. 3, Alyssa Eckstein, Monticello, 1:05.61. 4, Hannah Hintermeist, Richfield, 1:05.87. 5, Hattie Kugler, St. Louis Park, 1:06.97. 6, Amelia Berg, Hill-Murray, 1:07.05. 7, Caroline Gardner, Orono, 1:07.14. 8, Mackenna Stuber, Hutchinson, 1:09.01. 9, Stella Urness, Breck, 1:07.61. 10, Jess Milstroh, Foley, 1:07.92. 11, Isabelle Schneider, Rocori, 1:08.62. 12, Emily Taylor, Albert Lea, 1:09.04. 13, Hannah Eklund, Alexandria, 1:09.20. 14, Maija Hovelsrud, Park Rapids, 1:09.31. 15, Ella Benoit, Sauk Rapids, 1:09.60. 16, Jordyn Wentzel, Delano, 1:09.71.