Swimmers maintain unbeaten pace

by Tom Coombe

The odds were stacked against the International Falls Broncos Tuesday afternoon.<BR><BR>Not only did they face an Ely high school girls swimming and diving team that was undefeated in dual meets, but their foes were celebrating Fall Homecoming with a festive atmosphere at the Ely pool, including a hallway performance by the high school pep band.<BR><BR>The Broncos never had a chance.<BR><BR>Backed by an enthusiastic home crowd, Ely won seven of the first eight events and finished with nine firsts overall in a 61-41 decision over International Falls.<BR><BR>The Wolves maintained their perfect (4-0) mark in dual meets and had a string of dominant performances.<BR><BR>Seniors Angie Mackie, Marlayna Whiting and Ali Schulze all won two individual events apiece.<BR><BR>“We’re 4-0 and we’re moving,” said Ely Head Coach Nancy Smrekar. “We are just swimming very well right now. We’ve got depth and we’re proud of it. It was a fun meet. The band was there and everything went great.”<BR><BR>Mackie had a hand in four Ely first-place efforts while Schulze and Whiting were triple-winners.<BR><BR>Ely’s Candice Smrekar added a victory in diving, racking up 187 points to lead the field.<BR><BR>Mackie, Schulze, Kelly Chaudoin and Meghan Furnstahl - all seniors - got the meet off to a solid start for the Wolves and they edged out a Broncos foursome to take the 160 medley relay in 1:36.54.<BR><BR>Whiting followed with the first of her two individual wins. She took the 200 freestyle in 2:19.98 and later added a first in the 500 freestyle (6:32.25). After missing part of the early season, Whiting has jumped right into the action and piled up points for the Wolves.<BR><BR>“Marlayna has come back and has just been outstanding,” said Nancy Smrekar. “My seniors are all very strong. Everybody has improved their times.”<BR><BR>Mackie continues to shave seconds off her performance. She broke a minute in the 100 freestyle during one leg of the 400 freestyle relay squad, as she joined Furnstahl, Betsy Guck and Chaudoin on the Wolves’ first-place unit.<BR><BR>Mackie sprinted to victory in the 60 freestyle (33.72) and was first in the 100 freestyle (1:00.78) as well.<BR><BR>Schulze continued her stellar campaign by winning the 160 individual medley (1:57.18) in a laugher, outpacing the rest of the field by eight seconds or more.<BR><BR>She also cruised to a win in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.77).<BR><BR>Ely also had points in the following events:<BR><BR>• 160 medley relay - 3. Beth Wilmunen, Maren Gotchnik, Guck, Amber Adams, 1:42.82;<BR><BR>• 200 freestyle - 2. Laura Schulze, 2:25.90;<BR><BR>• 160 individual medley - 2. Guck, 2:05.07;<BR><BR>• 60 freestyle - 3. Furnstahl, 34.89;<BR><BR>• Diving - 3. Kelly Bruels, 132.8;<BR><BR>• 100 butterfly - 2. Chaudoin, 1:12.65;<BR><BR>• 500 freestyle - 2. Laura Schulze, 6:41.53;<BR><BR>• 160 freestyle relay - 2. Wilmunen, Audrey Kothe, Whiting, Adams, 1:29.24; 3. Nicole Charles, Emily Weisinger, Katie Berg, Michelle Houle, 1:37.67;<BR><BR>• 100 backstroke - 2. Wilmunen, 1:17.49;<BR><BR>• 100 breaststroke - 3. Gotchnik, 1:22.84;<BR><BR>• 400 freestyle relay - 3. Houle, Kothe, Charles, Berg, 4:46.32.<BR><BR>Wolves seventh at Hibbing<BR><BR>In a matchup with mostly large-school competition, Ely had a respectable seventh (out of 11) place performance at the Sept. 25 Hibbing Invitational.<BR><BR>Candice Smrekar had the Wolves’ best overall performance, taking second in diving. She had 316 points and was second only to Mesabi East’s Maggie Rosier (348).<BR><BR>Smrekar was behind Eveleth-Gilbert’s Stacey Peterson at a meet just two days before, but she bounced back to top Peterson and the rest of the field.<BR><BR>“She was a little down after Eveleth,” said Nancy Smrekar. “But she came back and strutted her stuff on the board. She knew what she had to do.”<BR><BR>Ali Schulze also put together a big day, bringing home two top-five finishes. She was third in the 100 breaststroke (1:16.85), and led all Class A swimmers. Earlier in the meet, she took fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:32.55).<BR><BR>“Ali had a standout meet,” said Nancy Smrekar.<BR><BR>Mackie added a pair of ninth-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyles.<BR><BR>Bruels was 10th in diving and Guck placed 14th in the 100 butterfly.<BR><BR>Ely’s 400 freestyle relay combination of Furnstahl, Chaudoin, Guck and Mackie was fifth.<BR><BR>The 200 medley relay foursome of Mackie, Schulze, Chaudoin and Furnstahl wound up seventh.<BR><BR>