Prep Swimming & Diving: Cards set to host 3A championships
The two day extravaganza that is the Section 3A swimming and diving meet starts Thursday afternoon at Willmar High School.
The Cardinal swimming and diving team will host some elite talent with Hutchinson and Delano, two of the best five teams in Minnesota, looking to make waves, said Willmar head coach Carl Shuldes.
"We have a really tough section," Shuldes said. "But that's a good thing. You don't want it to be a weak section. It forces us to have to be fast. If we're not, we'll get blown out of the water."
Though Hutchinson and Delano will light up the marquee between Thursday's preliminary races and Saturday's finals, Willmar has plenty of talent, too.
The diving trio of junior Erica Schramm, and seniors Olivia Welsh and Maddie Stoeberl lead the way as potential event winners. The Cardinals' 200-yard freestyle relay team also contends with the best.
With only the top four divers making it to state, one would think the odds of having all three make it to the state meet is slim. But Shuldes has plenty of confidence in his team.
"The divers have been rock stars all year," Shuldes said. "Erica is one of the favorites to win but you can't sleep on Olivia or Maddie. Maddie has been overshadowed all year long because the other two have been so good, but if Maddie is really on, she has a very good chance to make it."
The swimmers will have some stiff competition this year in their home pool. A number of the teams entering the meet have swimmers with qualifying time that would break pool records. But Shuldes says that doesn't intimidate his team.
"We just can't dwell on (how good they are)," Shuldes said. "That's an advantage of swimming: we have the watch. Even though we know going in we may not be a champion in any event, we still could make it by the qualifying time. More than what place we finish, we're looking at the time and trying to drop the time."
The Cardinals will also have the home pool advantage, something that Shuldes says hasn't always been an advantage in the past.
"In the past, it's felt a bit weird to host the meet and not get on the bus so I don't think it used to be an advantage," Shuldes said. "But this year, I think the girls feel a lot better about it. They get to sleep in their own beds and it doesn't break up their routine. They'll still get done with school and head to the pool like any other day. It's such an exciting day and the place will be packed to the gills. There's nothing quite like the silence before the race starts and the explosion as soon as they jump in the pool."