Diving in to a new season

Swimmers host International Falls in return to competition

by Tom Coombe
Cheers may have been muffled by masks and parents could only watch via live webstreaming, but high school sports returned to Babbitt on Tuesday in the form of the first girls swimming meet of the season.
Visiting International Falls dominated much of the fall opener, winning all but two events en route to a 60-34 victory over Northeast Range/Ely.
But the result may have taken a backseat yesterday to the circumstances, as the meet marked a formal return to high school competition in the area, after a nearly six-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus wiped out the spring seasons while two fall sports - football and volleyball - are on hold until the spring.
Swimming is one of a handful of activities allowed by the Minnesota State High School League and NRE, under first-year head coach Cheri DeBeltz, has been practicing since mid-August.
The preparation paid off with some solid showings against the deeper Broncos, including two first-place finishes.
Morgan McClelland swam to victory in the 200 yards freestyle, crossing the finish line in 2:25.03 and beating her next-closest foe by a whopping 11 seconds.
It was a more narrow win for Lily Tedrick in the 200 individual medley. She won in 2:43.94, just more than a second in front of runner-up Gracie Bowles of International Falls.
NRE also recorded a slew of second-place finishes, with McClelland the runner-up in the 500 freestyle (6:57.25) and Tedrick second in the 100 butterfly (1:14.97).
The Nighthawks’ Kelly Thompson (30.44) took second in the 50 freestyle, while Anna Larson (1:10.07) was second in the 100 freestyle.
Esther Anderson (1:20.31) was the runner-up in the 100 backstroke and within a second of winner Elizabeth Jantzen of International Falls.
In relay action, McClelland teamed with Aili Bee, Cedar Ohlhauser and Thompson to take second in the 200 freestyle (2:02.16), while Tedrick, Thompson, Anderson and McClelland were second in the 400 freestyle relay.
Individual third-place finishes from NRE went to McKenna Coughlin (50 freestyle), Maggie Dammann (100 butterfly) and Bee (100 breaststroke).
The junior varsity meet went to NRE by a 54-25 score, with Sabrah Hart (50 butterfly), Emma Fedders (100 freestyle), Alice Wolter (300 freestyle) and Evie Cavalier (100 breaststroke) pulling out individual wins.
Wolter, Via DeBeltz, Hart and Tuuli Koivisto teamed to win the 200 medley relay
NRE won they 200 freestyle relay in the JV event, with Coughlin, Grace Sundell, DeBeltz and Hart making up the winning team.
It was Coughlin, Lauren Olson, Grace Sundell and Ava Sundell on a winning 400 freestyle relay quartet.