Early disappointments motivate Guetter
Dana Guetter would qualify as a "Natural Born Athlete". Her parents, Ron and Mary, each were athletes in high school: Ron wrestled at Wabasso and Mary played basketball at Grey Eagle. They met at Willmar Community College in 1978, where both were...
Dana Guetter would qualify as a "Natural Born Athlete".
Her parents, Ron and Mary, each were athletes in high school: Ron wrestled at Wabasso and Mary played basketball at Grey Eagle. They met at Willmar Community College in 1978, where both were enrolled in the Chef's Training program. Mary played basketball for the Lady Warriors.
Amber, Dana's older sister, qualified for state in four swimming events her senior year. She was also a starting pitcher for the fast-pitch softball team.
Dana swims today in the preliminaries of the Class A meet at the University of Minnesota. She also plays basketball, though she will start three weeks late. In the spring, she's a top 400- and 800-meter runner for the track team.
She's swimming at her fifth state meet today and for the second year in a row in four events. Last year, she placed fourth in the 50-meter freestyle.
"That surprised me," she said Sunday before leaving for Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. "I was hoping for top 16. I never expected a medal."
She had reason not to expect big things in critical meets. Though she'd qualified for state on relays starting in eighth grade, Dana fell short of advancing in an individual event until her junior season.
"I always had a problem with nerves," she said. "I just swam tight."
While she had posted times that would make the state cut during the regular season, she was unable to repeat those times at the section meet - until last year.
"I just learned how to relax by taking deep breathes; reminding myself not to think too much," she explained.
Those early misses -- including .05 seconds short in the 100 freestyle in 10th grade -- fueled her resolve.
"It was very frustrating," she said. "I was determined to swim better my junior year."
Carl Shuldes, the girls and boys swimming and diving coach, sees something special in his senior captain.
"I've never coached an athlete like her," said Shuldes, also the boys coach "Her will to win is extraordinary. If you are going to beat her, you'd better be at your best."
Mary said her youngest daughter always had drive. Perhaps it was the bright medals she saw her older sister bring home each weekend from the Racing Stingrays' meet.
The first time in a race, she was the last girl out of the pool, recalled her mother. She was crying.
"I'll never win a medal," the tyke sobbed.
Dana was overwhelmed when she jumped into the varsity pool as a seventh grader. The other girls were so much bigger, though they warmly greeted her and classmate Anita Nelson.
Perhaps those early memories have made Dana especially sensitive to the youngsters joining the Cardinals each fall. Last year Dana, Nelson and Krista Koenen, now graduated, went out of their way to make seventh-grader Alissa Tinklenberg feel welcomed.
"We knew about her," said Dana. "We introduced ourselves that summer at Stingrays. She transitioned to varsity very well. Right away, she was just like the rest of us."
At the section meet, Tinklenberg pulled a reporter aside wishing to express her appreciation.
"The seniors have been just awesome," said the precocious eighth grader. "They are the nicest, most encouraging people you'll ever meet. They've been so much fun to be around.''
The section meet was the last meet for seniors Bria Aamot, Meghann Burton, Emily Fagerstrom and Tara Molacek.
Together Tinklenberg and Guetter have their name attached to seven of the 11 swim records on the board at the west end of the pool. Guetter set the 200 individual medley mark (2:20.41) in October; last year she posted a new standard in the 100 butterfly (1:01.16).
This year she's like to see the two relays each medal, meaning a top eight finish. She's seeded second in the 50 free (24.56) behind Megan Geyen of Watertown at 23.789. Dana's seeded fourth in the 100 free.
Tinklenberg will swim both the 200 and 500 free. Last year she dropped 4.27 seconds from her seed time to take a third-place medal in the 200 freestyle.
Aleasha Blokzyl, also an eighth grader, joins Guetter and Tinklenberg in the two relays. She is a transfer from New London-Spicer. Sarah Frank swims in the 200 free relay and Nelson the breaststroke leg of the 200 medley relay, her fourth state meet.