For the first time in a long time, Monticello headed to True Team Sections with just a little bit of doubt.
For the eighth straight time, there proved to be no need for it.
The Magic scored 867 points at the section meet where depth and consistency count just as much as top-end talent, to outscore Big Lake by nearly 80 points.
Monticello has now won their True Team section every year since competition begin in 2005, but they had reason to be concerned this year would be a challenge.
The Magic had their confidence shaken a bit by two conference losses this season, just the second and third losses the seniors have experienced in their swimming careers, and they were coming off a close dual win against section opponent Big Lake.
“We were concerned,” said Coach Kristin Otterson. “[The girls] didn’t expect it. A lot of them were wondering if they had a chance.”
With the nerves and pressure of the big meet, the first race was certain to set the tone.
That tone couldn’t have been much more positive for the Magic.
Anna Jensen, Paige Anderson, Amber Eckstein and Anna Jones led the Magic out with a three-and-a-half second win in the 200-yard medley relay. Not too far behind them was Monticello’s second relay team of Rylee Yakymi, Katie Parr, Courtney Skarie, and Steph Van Beek finishing in third place overall.
Otterson said that first relay calmed a lot of nerves and showed the Magic that again they should be too much for their opponents to overcome.
From there, Monticello was in control throughout the meet. While times weren’t exactly where Otterson wants them to be, they were certainly good enough to pick up some high finishes.
In the third event, Eckstein picked up the Magic’s second win, finishing the 200-yard IM in 2:20.84. Behind her was eighth-grader Emma Farnsworth who turned in a season best time of 2:26.76 to earn a second-place finish.
“Emma had a really good day,” said Otterson. “She felt really good this weekend, which was nice to hear.”
Much of the team was fighting through fatigue as the Magic train right through True Team. But many other fought through successfully.
In the 50-yard free, Jones and Kylie Gaeth finished third and fourth. In diving, Breazy Ciatti earned 338.40 points and a third place finish, while freshman Taylor Boraas was just fifteen points and one spot behind her.
In the 100-yard fly, the Magic extended their dominance. Anderson, Farnsworth and Parr went 1-2-3. In the 100 free Gaeth (second) and Jones (fourth) both turned in solid performances. Captain Anna Macki and Samantha Murray led the way in the 500 free, finishing fifth and sixth.
In the final two individual events, the 100 back and 100 breast, Monticello went 1-2. Jensen and Maree Smith led the way in the backstroke while Eckstein and Skarie earned top honors in the breaststroke. And in the final two relays, Monticello overwhelmed their opponents, going 1-2 in the 200-yard free and second, third and fifth in the 400-yard free.
“We were happy to see the point spread,” said Otterson. “We have more depth right now than other teams.”
That depth will be put to a test Saturday when the Magic head to the U of M for the True Team State meet (1 p.m.), but Otterson says they’ll keep expectations realistic. First, they’ll aim for good swims and lowered times. Secondly, they’ll make sure to enjoy their time at this one-of-a-kind meet.
“It’s a long meet, but every girl wants to go,” said Otterson. “They want to be part of that atmosphere.”
For the eighth straight year, they’ll get to.