WILLMAR — If nothing else, the Willmar girls swimming and diving team has been resilient.

First, there was a main valve break at the Willmar High School pool shortly before the first practice of the season.

“The pool drained unintentionally and I guess I don’t know how or why it happened,” said Cardinals head coach Carl Shuldes. “All of a sudden there was no water in the pool. Some things had to be repaired and replaced. It took two weeks for that to happen.”

That brought the swim and dive team across town to the middle school pool. It was tighter quarters, but Willmar made it work.

“The girls handled that well,” Shuldes said. “We have a really nice facility and we’re spoiled with eight lanes and a separate diving pool. The girls handled the much smaller middle school pool fine. The girls had fun with it.”

Willmar's Grace Vierhuf swims the butterfly portion of the 200-yard medley relay in Thursday's Central Lakes Conference meet against St. Cloud Tech at Willmar High School. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Willmar's Grace Vierhuf swims the butterfly portion of the 200-yard medley relay in Thursday's Central Lakes Conference meet against St. Cloud Tech at Willmar High School. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

So all things considered, when the Cardinals finally got a home meet Thursday against St. Cloud Tech, a faulty starting system wasn’t something they were ill-equipped to handle. Instead, the official used a portable speaker to bring swimmers to their blocks while a whistle replaced the high-pitched beep.

Working through the makeshift start, Tech came away a 101-85 victor.

“It was a mixed bag, to be honest,” Shuldes said. “We had some good things happen. … The problem was we were too inconsistent. That’s part of the learning curve.”

Kiana Gallinger had a pair of tight victories in the 200- (2 minutes, 6.51 seconds) and 500-yard freestyles (5:51.36).

“She was behind for most of (the 200) and came back in the last 25 yards. That was a real gutty race for her,” Shuldes said. “The 500 free was almost a carbon copy. The Tech girl was in front of her most of the time and she was able to spring in front of her at the end.”

Willmar gets back in the pool Tuesday at Brainerd.

Willmar's Ava Brogren pulls ahead of a St. Cloud Tech swimmer during the breaststroke portion of the 200-yard individual medley in Thursday's Central Lakes Conference meet at Willmar High School. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Willmar's Ava Brogren pulls ahead of a St. Cloud Tech swimmer during the breaststroke portion of the 200-yard individual medley in Thursday's Central Lakes Conference meet at Willmar High School. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune



St. Cloud Tech 101, Willmar 85

200 MEDLEY RELAY – (1) St. Cloud Tech 2:01.80 (2) Willmar (Natalie Arends, Ava Brogren, Grace Vierhuf, Edyn Saulsbury) 2:06.32
200 FREESTYLE – (1) Kiana Gallinger, W 2:06.51 (3) Shelby Reed, W 2:18.12 (4) Cate Brogren, W 2:19.84
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – (1) A Brogren, W 2:28.58 (5) Aubrey Schueler, W 2:45.03
50 FREESTYLE – (1) Haley Condon, STC 25.96 (2) Saulsbury, W 26.86 (3) Avery Welsh, W 27.09 (4) Allie Evink, W 27.49
DIVING – (1) Mardi Marek, STC 171.60 (3) Emily Hunt, W 159.10 (4) Sophie Smith, W 157.00
100 BUTTERFLY – (1) Kierstyn Nelson, STC 1:05.22 (3) Schueler, W 1:15.09 (5) Vierhuf, W 1:15.59
100 FREESTYLE – (1) Sydney Gustin, STC 58.38 (2) Welsh, W 59.34 (3) Saulsbury, W 59.65 (4) Evink 1:00.60
500 FREESTYLE – (1) Gallinger, W 5:51.36 (3) Cate Brogren, W 6:06.41 (4) Shelby Reed, W 6:27.87
200 FREESTYLE RELAY – (1) St. Cloud Tech 1:49.47 (2) Willmar (Saulsbury, Welsh, Ana Hernandez, Evink) 1:49.85
100 BACKSTROKE – (1) Condon, STC 1:02.92 (3) Arends 1:12.58 (4) Sofia Lynum, W 1:16.27 (5) Vierhuf, W 1:17.70
100 BREASTSTROKE – (1) A Brogren, W 1:15.30 (5) Adia Laidlaw, W 1:24.25

400 FREESTYLE RELAY – (1) St. Cloud Tech 4:01.33 (2) Willmar (Welsh, Evink, Gallinger, A Brogren) 4:04.58