WILLMAR — Competing in the 100-yard breaststroke during the section prelims Thursday, Willmar sophomore Ava Brogren posted a time that would’ve been good enough to qualifying on time.

Of course, in order to secure a spot at the state meet, she had to repeat that performance two days later. Swimming in front of her home crowd Saturday, Brogren not only bettered her time, but ended that event standing at the top of the podium.

With a time of 1 minute, 8.71 seconds, the sophomore captured first place in the 100 breaststroke during the Section 3A Championships from Willmar High School.

“It feels great,” Brogren said. “It's just been my goal the whole season and it feels so great to finally accomplish it and have such amazing teammates that are there to support me and be there for me the whole season.”

Entering the finals as the second seed, Brogren’s time on Saturday was just one-hundredth of a second faster than her mark from the prelims. However, her performance was a more than a second quicker than Orono freshman Addie Thalhuber, who was the runner-up.

Fundamentally, the Cardinals sophomore noted that her turns and pulling out, as opposed to pulling up, were the keys in her victory. Additionally, Brogren was motivated to do well given how close she was to the top of the leaderboard.

“For this swim, I was going in (seeded) second. I’m very competitive and I really wanted to win it,” Brogren said. “I knew that I had to swim fast. I just had my mind on that and wanted to have fun with the race, go out there and do my best.”

Willmar sophomore Ava Brogren stands at the top of the podium after winning the 100-yard breaststroke at the Section 3A Championships Saturday from Willmar High School. 

Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune
Willmar sophomore Ava Brogren stands at the top of the podium after winning the 100-yard breaststroke at the Section 3A Championships Saturday from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune

Receiving a spirited hugs and congratulations, Brogren made her way to the top of the podium. There, she would receive her section championship medal from Willmar head coach Carl Shuldes.

“It was so much fun to look over and see my teammates cheering and know that my coach finally got to hand out the medals,” Brogren said of her view from the podium.

Elsewhere, Brogren finished eighth in the 200 individual medley and the 200- and 400 freestyle relays to seventh and sixth place finishes respectively, as the Cardinals finished eighth overall with a team score of 110 points.

With a time of 5:31.74, Willmar junior Kiana Gallinger claimed seventh in the 500 freestyle to go with her 14th-place finish in the 200 freestyle. Freshman Sophie Smith was the team’s top representative in the 1-meter dive, taking 10th after putting up a score of 293.8.

Willmar freshman Sophie Smith competes in the 1-meter dive during Saturday's Section 3A Championships from Willmar High School. 

Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune
Willmar freshman Sophie Smith competes in the 1-meter dive during Saturday's Section 3A Championships from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune

Montevideo/Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley and Litchfield were right behind the Cardinals in the team standings. The Thunder Hawks produced 99 points, 38 ahead of the Dragons.

Junior Cortney Pauling was the co-op’s best performer, taking fifth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle. Meanwhile, Litchfield sophomore Margaret Boerema was eighth in the 100 breaststroke. Fellow sophomore Emma Brown was also eight in the 1-meter dive.

Winning six of the 12 events, Hutchinson claimed their 13th consecutive section title, piling up 448 points. With wins in three events, Delano earned second with 355 points.

Section 3A championship

TEAM SCORES – (1) Hutchinson 448 (2) Delano 355 (3) Mound Westonka Holy Family 323 (4) Orono 279 (5) Waconia 229 (6) Marshall 146 (7) Dassel-Cokato 121 (8) Willmar 110 (9) Montevideo/Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley (10) Litchfield 61 (11) Watertown-Mayer 28
200 MEDLEY RELAY – (1) Hutchinson (Lexi Kucera, Madilyn Gehrke, Hailey Farrell, Ainslea Jensen), 1:48.78 (7) Montevideo/Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley (Lana Rongstad, Zola Olson, Ashton Pauling, Cortney Pauling) 1:58.66 (8) Litchfield (Nora Lagergren, Margaret Boerema, Jocelyn Larson, Ellie Brown), 1:59.84
200 FREESTYLE – (1) Kylie Strobl, D, 1:56.00 (10) Greta Rongstad, M/DB/LQPV, 2:02.68 (14) Kiana Gallinger, W, 2:04.33
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – (1) Hailey Farrell, H, 2:09.50 (8) Ava Brogren, W, 2:16.77
50 FREESTYLE – (1) Grace Hanson, H, 23.51 (6) C. Pauling, M/DB/LQPV, 25.16 (15) Avery Welsh, W, 26.44
DIVING – (1) MaKena Rasmussen, O, 414.15 (8) Emma Brown, L, 298.45 (10) Sophie Smith, W, 293.80 (14) Cecilia Toenjes, L, 247.80 (15) Kylie Portiin, W, 246.75
100 BUTTERFLY – (1) Kern, D, 56.60
100 FREESTYLE – (1) Hanson, H, 51.83 (5) C. Pauling, M/DB/LQPV, 55.33 (15) Avery Welsh, W, 57.53
500 FREESTYLE – (1) Zella Lucas, MWHF, 5:04.18 (7) Gallinger, W, 5:31.74 (16) G. Rongstad, M/DB/LQPV 5:44.85
200 FREESTYLE RELAY – (1) Hutchinson (Hanson, Mikayla Witte, Jensen, Kucera), 1:37.01 (7) Willmar (Welsh, Allie Evink, Edyn Saulsbury, Brogren) 1:42.36 (8) Montevideo/Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley (L. Rongstad, Amery Arends, G. Rongstad, C. Pauling) 1:47.78 (10) Litchfield (Larson, Boerema, Holly Lagergren, Brown) 1:47.24
100 BACKSTROKE – (1) Kern, D, 56.83 (16) Natalie Arends, W, 1:08.34
100 BREASTSTROKE – (1) Brogren, W, 1:08.71 (2) Addie Thalhuber, O, 1:09.75 (8) Boerema, L, 1:12.11

400 FREESTYLE RELAY – (1) Hutchinson (Hanson, Madison Witte, Mi. Witte, Farrell), 3:33.16 (6) Willmar (Welsh, Gallinger, Saulsbury, Brogren) 3:46.63 (9) Montevideo/Dawson Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley (Taylor Viessman, Kelsey McGrath, Tatum Christenson, Ashton Pauling), 4:05.70