Magic take two losses, but aim for big win

Amber Eckstein performs the fly during the 200 Individual Medley Tuesday night. Eckstein would go on to win the race. (Photos by Clay Sawatzke)

Amber Eckstein performs the fly during the 200 Individual Medley Tuesday night. Eckstein would go on to win the race. (Photos by Clay Sawatzke)

The past week wasn’t an easy one for the Magic swimming and diving team.
They competed against two of the toughest teams on their dual schedule, falling last Thursday to powerhouse St. Michael-Albertville, before falling to Sartell-St. Stephen Tuesday night at home.
But Monticello hopes to learn lessons from the past week, as it heads into the biggest regular season meet of the season, a showdown tonight with section rival Big Lake.
The Magic found quite a few things to take away from last Thursday’s meet against the Knights, which Monticello lost 97-84 after STMA swam the last couple races as exhibitions.
“We did swim pretty well against STMA,” said Coach Kristin Zalec. “It’s a conference meet, so they do get a little more hyped for that.”
The Magic started the meet with a strong performance from their 200 medley relay team, which earned a second place finish.
Maree Smith, Amber Eckstein, Dina Kramer and Kylie Gaeth combined to finish in a time of 1:56.69, less than two seconds behind STMA’s top team.
In the first four events, the Magic’s only other second place finish came from Alyssa Eckstein who finished second in the 200-meter free.
Diving, the fifth event, was one of the biggest bright spots for the Magic.

Taylor Boraas takes a practice dive at Monticello’s meet Tuesday night. Boraas has been diving extremely well for the Magic, as the sophomore has gone over 200 points in each of the last two meets.

Taylor Boraas takes a practice dive at Monticello’s meet Tuesday night. Boraas has been diving extremely well for the Magic, as the sophomore has gone over 200 points in each of the last two meets.

Taylor Boraas, a sophomore, continued her steady improvement, topping 200 points Thursday night for the first time in her career. Her total of 201 was good for first place at the meet.  Boraas continued to improve even throughout the week, tallying 219 points at Tuesday night’s home meet.
“She has upped her degree of difficulty,” said Zalec. “And she’s hitting all of her dives pretty perfectly.”
Boraas winning, along with Maggie Oliverius finishing third, helped Monticello outscore STMA 10-6 in diving.
Back in the pool, Monticello was able to pick up three more individual victories before the Knights started swimming exhibition races. Kylie Gaeth turned in a first place finish in the 100 free, finishing in a time of 57.69. Alyssa Eckstein won the 500 free, swimming a 5:51.36, 15 seconds better than anyone else in the pool. And Maree Smith won the 100-meter back with a time of 1:04.86.
Amber Eckstein also turned in a couple of quality individual performances.
“She’s right where we want her to be,” said Zalec.
And the Magic 400 free relay team finished the meet with a swim in under four minutes.
“Really a good swim,” said Zalec.
The two losses this week drop the Magic to 3-4 in duals, but the one tonight against Big Lake is the most important one yet. The Magic and the Hornets have been the top two teams in the section the past couple years, and after Big Lake beat Monticello at a relay meet earlier this year, Zalec says the Magic need to use tonight to re-establish themselves as the favorites.
“Extremely important,” said Zalec. “We’ve never lost to Big Lake. Now that they’ve beat us once this year, it makes it even more important that we show Big Lake they can’t just expect to win at sections.”
The meet tonight is in Big Lake and it is scheduled to begin at 6.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at clay.sawatzke@ecm-inc.com

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