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Willmar starts quest for state medals today

Willmar swimmers headed for the state meet are, clockwise from lower left, Sarah Hund, Aleasha Blokzyl, Emily Zondervan, Liz Gorans and Alissa Tinklenberg. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Willmar senior divers Laura Polman, left, and Beth Pollock both qualified for the state swimming and diving meet that begins today at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- The Willmar swimming and diving team will attempt to improve on last year's 11th-place finish at the Class A state meet and perhaps even top an eighth-place in 2006.

The Cardinals are sending two divers, two relays and senior Sarah Hund and junior Alissa Tinklenberg in two individual events each.

Divers Beth Pollock and Laura Polman finished first and third, respectively, at the Section 3A meet on Saturday. Pollock also qualified for state two years ago.

Today's eight dives over two preliminary rounds will cut the field of 32 in half for the final three dives Saturday afternoon at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

The swimmers go off at noon Friday; all events will require four heats, except two of the relays.

Seeded at 1:41.41, Willmar has a chance to reach the finals in the 200 meter freestyle relay. Three of the four team members are back from last year's team that finished fourth and set a new school record of 1:40.28 in the preliminaries. Hund, Tinklenberg and sophomore Aleasha Blokzyl are joined by eighth-grader Liz Gorans.

The 400 freestyle relay team is seeded 13th and, has the same components as a year ago when it was eighth with Hund, Tinklenberg, Blokzyl and Emily Zondervan, a freshman.

Hund is swimming in her third state meet and second straight in four events. She took sixth in the 50 freestyle last year in 24.80, just after tying her career best of 24.71 in the preliminary. Her seed time this year is 25.08, 10th best. She also is in the 100 free where she was 17th a year ago.

Tinklenberg has swam in four events every year since seventh grade and earned 14 state medals. She has three third-place medals and was fourth last year in the 200 freestyle.

Willmar coach Carl Shuldes notes that Tinklenberg, who didn't taper for sections, has a history of dropping time at state.

She could fracture her own school marks of 1:56.79 in the 200 and 5:18.8 in the 500.

- Rand Middleton