Swimmers all set to jump in
by Tom Coombe
Once again, there’s a decidedly Ely feel to the Northeast Range/Ely girls swimming team.
While the team is based out of Babbitt, where the swimming pool is located as well as the home of the host school in the cooperative, the roster is dominated by Ely swimmers.
All but two of the 20 swimmers on the roster are from Ely, and the team enters the 2022 campaign looking to build off of the successes of 2021.
Despite bringing Ely and Northeast Range together, the program remains one of the smallest in Section 7A in terms of school enrollment and overall numbers.
Yet the Nighthawks return an all-section swimmer in Ely senior Lily Tedrick, who was on the cusp of a state berth a year ago.
Junior Morgan McClelland has also earned section recognition and the team returns, intact, a pair of relays that shattered records, earned high section finishes, or both during the previous season.
It makes for optimism as the new season begins with a dual meet Tuesday at International Falls.
But head coach Cheri DeBeltz, who has incorporated both team building activities and out of the water strength and stretching workouts into the Nighthawks’ routine, is taking things in stride.
“We just hope we have a successful season in the pool and out of the pool,” said DeBeltz. “We have some very talented swimmers and the girls are looking great in the water.”
Tedrick earned all-section acclaim a year ago while placing fourth in 7A in the 200 individual medley. She also set a new school record in the 100 butterfly (1:05.49) on the way to a medal-winning seventh-place showing in the section, and was part of two relays that set new NRE standards.
It was Tedrick who teamed with Kelly Thompson, McClelland and Anna Larson to take sixth in the 200 freestyle relay, with a time of 1:48.50. The same foursome also the record-setting combination in the 200 medley relay, which was seventh in 2:04.48.
DeBeltz shied away from committing that the returning swimmers would be back in the same events.
“Nothing’s guaranteed,” she said. “We will see where the season takes us. The (record-setting) relay was something we threw together at a Pumpkin Quad meet, at a fun meet to give the girls something to do. We won’t rule anything out. The girls come to us with ideas. We try to encourage communication and let them sort of steer the bus. If they’re getting burned out in an an event, we want them to be successful in another event.”
McClelland is the only other returning NRE swimmer to make the section finals as an individual last fall, qualifying in both the 200 and 500 yard freestyles.
The team is also hoping to get a boost from Cedar Ohlhauser, who is back after a one-year absence.
The Nighthawks were set to take part in relay races Thursday at Aurora as a warm-up to a long regular season.
“We’ve said all along we want to continue to grow and build as a team,” said DeBeltz, who is assisted by Sue Pasmick. “Not necessarily with numbers because we struggle anyway being a small school. But we want to grow as a team as a whole.”
The Nighthawks are on the road until a Sept. 15 home meet with Duluth Denfeld. It’s the first of five home events at the pool in Babbitt.