The Lakeland girls’ swim team participates in the Great Northern Conference meet tonight at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Aquatics Center.
There’s plenty to swim for tonight at conference. Lakeland enters the night in a three-way tie for second in the standings with Ladysmith and Medford, four points behind conference-leading Rhinelander.
“(We’re) excited because there’s a couple of girls that won’t be going onto sectionals so this is their big season end meet,” coach Chris Garcia said. “Everyone’s excited to see time drops, close races and some good competition.
“Going in a three-way tie for second so we’ll be watching the Ladysmith and Medford swimmers a little more closely. Rhinelander will be top, they should walk away with it, we’re just hoping for some really good times.”
For Lakeland, their strengths lie in a number of swimmers.
“I would like to see if not lifetime bests, some season best times,” Garcia said.
Rylee Ahlborn has swam well in multiple events. She’s swam the third fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle with a swim of 56.71.
Ahlborn also has the third fastest time in the 200-yard IM, swimming a time of 2:25.72.
Another Lakeland swimmer to keep an eye on is Mariah Angove. She swam a time of 1:14.62 in the 100-yard breaststroke, fourth best in conference.
Angove also has the fifth best time in the 100-yard backstroke, swimming a time of 1:06.39.
“Individually, definitely some swimmers that will finish in the top three and (I hope) we can get some in the top six too that would be great,” Garcia said.
Naomi Hamerla has one of the top times in the 100-yard butterfly so far this year. Her time of 1:05.12 ranks sixth in conference.
Freshman Brie Wescott figures to make a difference in her GNC meet debut. She swam a time of 1:06.73 in the 100-yard backstroke, good for seventh in conference.
Not only do the Thunderbirds have top times as individuals, but they also have top times in the relays. The Thunderbirds have the second fastest time in the 200-yard medley relay, swimming a time of 1:59.14.
They also have the second fastest time in the 200-yard freestyle relay, swimming a time of 1:44.78 so far this year.
And in the 400-yard freestyle relay, they have swam a time of 3:59.93. Rhinelander leads the way with the best times in all three relays thus far.
“I’m hoping for some good finishes by our 200, 400 free relays,” Garcia said.
Other top swimmers for the Thunderbirds include Amanda Kosmen, Lacrosse Margitan, Nina Starynski Morgan Nowak, Megan Ross, Carly Main, Cameryn Teichmiller, Hanna Wegner-Clements and Alysse Teichmiller. They will factor into both individual events and relays.
At last year’s conference meet, the Thunderbirds finished third with a score of 227 points, even though they were 3-4 and fifth in conference heading into the meet.
“Most of these swimmers have come up from club so they’re used to a conference meet,” Garcia said. “I don’t think I have anyone that isn’t used to a big conference meet. I think we’ll be prepared.”
The biggest competition to the Thunderbirds will come from the teams of Rhinelander, Medford and Ladysmith Co-op.
For the Hodags it all starts with Malia Francis. She has the top time in the 200-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly, 500-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke.
Other Hodag swimmers to look out are Makenna Winnicki, Noelle St. Pierre and Lisa Kennedy.
Medford is led by Erin Bergman and Morgan Ball. Bergman has the fourth fastest time in the 100-yard backstroke, swimming a time of 1:03.94. Ball has the fifth fastest times in the 100-yard butterfly, swimming a time of 1:04.51.
Ladysmith Co-op is led by Brooke Lechleitner. She swam a 25.83 in the 50-yard freestyle, a top three time and has the fifth fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle, swimming a time of 57.67.
“I have no idea where they’re going to put those girls,” Garcia said. “So our strategy is to put our swimmers in the best events.”
The hard work is put in. Now, it is time for Lakeland to swim their fastest and rely on their training they’ve done all season.
“Really just going to have smart races and really clean starts and turns on the sprints,” Garcia said. “But for the [other events] they’re just own to have to swim really smart which means good pace, knowing where your strengths are.”
The GNC meet is tonight at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Aquatics Center, set for a 5 p.m. start.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]