Monticello followed up a strong preliminary showing at the state meet with a solid final day, tallying two All-State performances on their way to a 16th place team finish.
“I was very happy,” said Head Coach Kristin Zalec. “The girls really just went out and did a great job.”
They were led by the trio of Amber Eckstein, Taylor Boraas and Kylie Gaeth.
Eckstein, the dynamic sophomore, earned All-State honors in two events. She finished seventh in the 200-yard individual medley, with a time of 2:13.06.
In the 100-yard breaststroke, her best swim, she set a new personal best time (1:04.00) – lowering the school record in the process – at prelims, and stayed under 1:05 in the finals on her way to a third place finish.
“Amber had the best meet of her life at sections, then she did it again at state,” said Zalec. “I knew she’d drop more time, but I didn’t know she’d get to [1:04.00].”
In diving, Boraas used a fantastic day one to vault herself to All-State honors.
After a nearly flawless preliminary round, Boraas hung on in day two for a seventh place finish, scoring a total of 299.55 points.
“Her first day diving, her very first year at state, to have that much composure was amazing,” said Zalec.” She hit her first seven dives perfectly. That’s impressive. I’ve never seen that from a diver.”
And the third leading contributor for the Magic was senior Kylie Gaeth.
Besides contributing heavily to two relay teams, Gaeth turned in the performance of her life in the 100 fly on the way to an 11th place finish.
After moving to the fly less than two months ago, the senior has been inching closer and closer to getting under a minute.
During the preliminary round at state, she did it in style.
Gaeth swam a 58.85, breaking not only a minute, but also the Monticello varsity record, previously held by standout Amanda Paulson.
“I had started swimming when [Paulson] was a senior. So I looked up to her for the leadership and how to swim and just trying to be like her because she made so much of herself,” said Gaeth. “So being up there with her feels really good.”
Gaeth came back on Wednesday with another good swim in finals, touching the wall in a time of 59.16 for a tenth place finish.
“What did it for Kylie was her work in the offseason and her hard work in the weight room,” said Zalec. “The fact that she could drop another two seconds after sections was due to her muscle tone.”
Also performing at her best at the state meet was Courtney Skarie.
The sophomore turned in a personal best time of 1:08.25 in the 100-yard breaststroke, earning a 12th place finish to back up Eckstein’s third place finish in the event.
The Magic relay teams were one spot where Monticello hoped to perform a little better.
Both teams managed to advance to the second day, but only one team was able to climb in the standings.
The opening 200 medley relay team, made up of Maree Smith, Eckstein, Dina Kramer and Gaeth finished with a time of 1:54.51 for a 16th place finish.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team moved up two spots from their preliminary round for a 14th place finish.
Gaeth, Alyssa Eckstein, Smith and Amber Eckstein swam to a time of 3:45.23 in the finals.
Besides being a great chance for swimmers to make a name for themselves and earn awards, Zalec also views the state meet as a springboard for her younger swimmers and as the final opportunity for seniors to not only make memories but to make impressions on their younger teammates.
Both seniors, Smith and Gaeth, did just that, according to Zalec.
“Maree had a chance at the meet to really show the younger swimmers what class is all about,” she said. “She didn’t make it to the second day, but she kept her head up. She showed the girls how important it is to recover and swim for the relays too.”
“Kylie showed you can be strong enough and you can show up and drop time. They saw them both set examples. It was a good final lesson for them to teach.”
Monticello finished the meet with 60 points. Visitation was crowned Class A State Champions, as they racked up 300 points during the three-day meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com