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Penning places in 100 butterfly, diving at Class A swimming meet

Kyja Penning received her wish by placing in two events in her third and final appearance at the state Class A girls swimming and diving meet.

The Park Rapids senior qualified for state in three events: diving, the 100-yard butterfly and as a member of the 200 medley relay team.

Penning's goal was to compete in the finals in all three events. However, Penning settled for qualifying for Saturday's finals at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in diving and the 100 butterfly.

Penning finished 13th in diving with 310.40 points for 4 points and finished 15th in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.08 for 2 points as Park Rapids tied for 40th place in the team standings with 6 points.

Unfortunately, the Panthers didn't advance to the finals in their other two events as the 200 medley relay team of Katherine Erickson, Mandy Schirmers, Penning and Emily Creager tied for 19th in 1:56.01 and Erickson placed 21st in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:04.81.

"Everyone swam pretty well," said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. "It was a very fast meet. Any time you go to state and maintain your time, you have a shot. It was a good experience for them."

During Thursday's preliminary round of diving, Penning was in 10th place out of 32 divers with 149.50 points after five dives. The top 20 divers advanced to the semifinal round.

After the next three dives, Penning was in 14th place 227.55 points. The top 16 divers advanced to Saturday's finals. Penning entered the state meet tied for the No. 20 seed out of 32 state qualifiers.

On Friday, the 200 medley relay team just missed being among the top 16 teams qualifying for the finals. Erickson led off the backstroke with a time of 30.25, Schirmers went 33.26 in the breaststroke, Penning had a 26.76 split in the butterfly and Creager clocked a 25.74 in the freestyle for a 1:56.01. Breck had the top preliminary time of 1:49.26 while Blake claimed the final spot in the finals with a 1:55.79.

Park Rapids qualified for state with a runner-up 1:55.90 at the Section 8A meet. The Panthers entered the state meet seeded No. 21 out of 28 teams. Hutchinson ended up winning the state title in 1:48.25.

In the 100 butterfly, Penning earned a spot in the consolation finals by placing 12th in 1:01.20, which broke her school record of 1:01.94. Penning earned a trip to state by placing third at the section meet with a qualifying time of 1:02.03. Detroit Lakes' Melissa Paakh had the best preliminary time of 56.47. Penning was seeded No. 21 out of 24 state qualifiers.

Park Rapids capped off Friday's preliminaries with Erickson placing 21st in the 100 backstroke in 1:04.81. Breck's Taylor Foster had the fastest preliminary time of 58.10 while Mankato West's Mariah Chesley was the final qualifier for the consolation finals with a 1:04.06. Monticello's Caley Oquist won the state title by setting a state record with a 56.62.

Erickson, who was seeded 18th out of 26 qualifiers, advanced to state as the section champion with a time of 1:03.65.

Penning capped off her high school swimming career with two solid performances during Saturday's finals.

In diving, Penning tallied 82.85 points on her final three dives to finish with 310.40 points for 13th place. Sauk Rapids' Chole Timm won the state title with 408.30 points.

In her previous two state diving appearances, Penning finished 16th with 242.30 points as a sophomore and finished eighth with 289.75 points for 11 points last season.

Penning concluded her season by placing 15th in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.08. Hutchinson's Audrey Kumm took first in 55.81 while Paakh was second in 56.51.