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Girls swimming & diving: Panthers cap off successful season at state meet

Lizzie Seifert and the 200-yard freestyle relay team dropped time at the Class A meet.

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Lizzie Seifert finished 23rd in the 500-yard freestyle and swam on the 200-yard freestyle relay team that placed 18th during the preliminaries of the state Class A meet on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

All five members of the Park Rapids girls swimming team knew it would be tough to advance to the second day of the state Class A meet.

Instead, juniors Massie Lee and Emma Vrieze, sophomores Maya Deshayes and Lizzie Seifert, and freshman Addison Lauwagie were focused on improving their times from the Section 8A meet.

Even though the Panthers were only able to drop time in two of their seven events, just competing against the state’s best at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota capped off another successful season.

Vrieze entered her second state meet seeded No. 19 out of 19 qualifiers in the 200-yard freestyle with a runner-up time of 2:05.39 at the section meet and No. 20 out of 21 qualifiers in the 100 freestyle after taking first at the section meet in 56.43. Blake’s Carly Bixby had the fastest seed time in both events with a 1:52.00 in the 200 freestyle and a 51.24 in the 100 freestyle.

Lauwagie entered her first state meet seeded No. 21 out of 21 qualifiers in the 50 freestyle after claiming runner-up honors at the section meet in 25.66 and was the No 17 seed out of 18 qualifiers in the 100 backstroke after winning the section title in 1:04.20. Foley’s Bryn Greenwaldt had the fastest seed time in the 50 freestyle at 51.24 while Delano’s Emma Kern entered as the No. 1 seed in the 100 backstroke in 54.74.

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Seifert qualified for her first state meet with a runner-up 5:46.57 in the 500 freestyle to become the No. 25 seed out of 25 qualifiers. Ella Passe of Visitation had the fastest seed time of 5:02.85.

Lauwagie, Lee (who was competing in her first state meet), Seifert and Vrieze entered as the No. 20 seed out of 21 qualifiers in the 200 freestyle relay after winning the section title in 1:43.72. Hutchinson had the best time with a 1:38.43.

Vrieze, Seifert, Deshayes (who was also making her state debut) and Lauwagie were the No. 20 seed out of 21 qualifiers by winning the section title in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:49.44. Hutchinson entered as the top seed in 3:32.76.

Those five swimmers were close to dropping time in all seven events during the state preliminaries on Friday, Nov. 19.

Vrieze finished 19th in the 200 freestyle in 2:05.93 as Bixby led the field in 1:51.93. Faith Hamm of Detroit Lakes claimed the final spot in the finals by finishing 16th in 2:01.76. Bixby would follow by clocking a 1:50.42 in the finals to capture the state title.

In the 50 freestyle, Lauwagie clocked a 25.72 to finish 20th while Hutchinson’s Grace Hanson led the field in 22.82. Kierstyn Nelson of St. Cloud Tech finished 16th in 25.11 to earn the final spot in the finals. Hanson would win the state title in 22.57 to break the Class A record.

Hanson would also clock the fastest time in the prelims of the 100 freestyle with a 50.32 as Vrieze finished 20th in 56.69. Grand Rapids’ Hanna Rauzi claimed the final spot in the finals with a 54.89. Hanson would break the Class A record with a 49.56 in the finals to claim the state title.

Seifert dropped her time to a 5:43.40 to finish 23rd in the 500 freestyle as Passe led the way with a 5:05.72. Hannah Denzer of St. Peter finished 16th in 5:24.78 as the final qualifier. Passe would win the state title in 4:59.37.

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Park Rapids moved up to 18th place in the 200 freestyle relay with a 1:43.22 as Lauwagie opened with a split of 25.95, Lee followed in 26.43, Seifert had a 25.62 and Vrieze anchored in 25.22. Delano took first in 1:36.79 while Wacona claimed the final spot in the finals with a 1:42.55. Delano clocked a 1:35.01 in the finals to lead the field.

Lauwagie just missed advancing in the 100 backstroke by finishing 17th in 1:05.39. Kern broke the state record in 53.40 while Albany’s Katie Spanier clocked a 1:03.67 to finish 16th and advance. Kern would win the state title in 53.77.

The Panthers were disqualified in the 400 freestyle relay as Hutchinson followed a 3:33.17 during prelims with a 3:30.74 in the final to win the state title.

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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