It will be a small group of swimmers representing Marshall High School at the state girls' swimming and diving meet, but an experienced group as well.
Each of the four Tigers who will be competing across six events at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis qualified for 2011's state meet. A year ago, Marshall sent an similarly small group, but achieved excellent results, placing sixth overall as a team.
Perhaps a reason for the exceeding of expectations by a smaller team is the increased attention each individual gets from coaches in practice before the big meet.
Photo by Travis Andries
The swimmers who will be representing Marshall High School this weekend at the Class A state swimming and diving meet are, from left: Laura Mitlyng, McKenzie Vermeire, Kylie Vermeire, Abby Surprenant, Cassaundra Krogen and Ashley Dunn.
"I think the smaller the group, the more focus can be put on each individual swimmer," Marshall head coach Nicole Peterson said. "The bigger the group, usually it's a little bit more exciting to have more people there cheering you on and things like that, too, but I'm very pleased with the performance we had at sections and the group of girls we are able to take with us to state this year."
Jumping in the pool for Marshall as preliminaries begin on Friday will be seniors McKenzie Vermeire and Abby Surprenant, as well as sophomores Kylie Vermeire and Ashley Dunn.
Both of the Vermeires will be swimming in the same four events for which they qualified in 2011. The elder Vermeire has individual swims in the 200-yard individual medley, where she finished fifth a year ago, and the 100-yard backstroke. Kylie Vermeire will be on her own for the 200- and 500-yard freestyle swims, before joining her sister, Dunn and Surprenant for the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
"I think we've all kind of concentrated on the specific events that we are going to be swimming, even though we have swam different events during the season," McKenzie Vermeire said. "I know I'm ready to go in and give it my all."
Her sister is also ready for her busy day.
"I think that the events that you swim at sections and state are kind of your better events or your favorite events, so in that way I think you're kind of prepared because it's what you usually like swimming the most," Kylie Vermeire said.
Surprenant, who qualified last year for the 100-yard backstroke but missed out on the finals, is the only Tiger not swimming in an individual race on Friday. She is, however, on both relay teams, replacing Marcela Sanchez-Aizcorbe, who was a multiple medalist for Marshall a season ago.
The Tigers took fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 2011, and the event will be the final swim of the day. Regardless of the busy day or the last-chance qualifying effort by the girls in the 200 relay at sections, Peterson is convinced that the team is ready for the weekend.
"I think the group of four girls that we have, for the 200 free and 400 free, it's just a really solid group of kids," Peterson said. "They really proved that they could make the cut. They hadn't qualified up to the section meet on Saturday, but not only did they qualify, but they were almost two full seconds under the cut. I think we just have a very determined group of girls that want to do well at the state meet in their relays."
Dunn, who was part of both relays at the 2011 meet, will be making her first individual appearance at state, as she will also be competing in the 100-yard backstroke. Although she has some experience at the premiere meet of the season, she is understandably anxious for her first solo race.
"I know we'll make it for sure to Saturday in the relays, and Kylie and Kenzie will make it in their individual events," Dunn said. "But I'm kind of excited to swim on Friday and see if I can make it because it's my first time swimming an individual event at state."
Dunn's expectations are shared by her coach, despite the team qualifying about two seconds slower on average than they swam in the finals a year ago.
"I think it's a little bit hit and miss, but I think we definitely have some room to improve in quite a few of the events," Peterson said. "I guess going into the state meet, we're looking to drop some of those times. Every single event definitely has the potential to make it into Saturday and that's what I guess our goal would be going into Friday."