Swimmers maintain unbeaten pace
The odds were stacked against the International Falls Broncos Tuesday afternoon.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.The Broncos never had a chance.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.The Wolves maintained their perfect (4-0) mark in dual meets and had a string of dominant performances.Seniors Angie Mackie, Marlayna Whiting and Ali Schulze all won two individual events apiece.“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.”Mackie had a hand in four Ely first-place efforts while Schulze and Whiting were triple-winners.Ely’s Candice Smrekar added a victory in diving, racking up 187 points to lead the field.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.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.“Marlayna has come back and has just been outstanding,” said Nancy Smrekar. “My seniors are all very strong. Everybody has improved their times.”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.Mackie sprinted to victory in the 60 freestyle (33.72) and was first in the 100 freestyle (1:00.78) as well.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.She also cruised to a win in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.77).Ely also had points in the following events:• 160 medley relay - 3. Beth Wilmunen, Maren Gotchnik, Guck, Amber Adams, 1:42.82;• 200 freestyle - 2. Laura Schulze, 2:25.90;• 160 individual medley - 2. Guck, 2:05.07;• 60 freestyle - 3. Furnstahl, 34.89;• Diving - 3. Kelly Bruels, 132.8;• 100 butterfly - 2. Chaudoin, 1:12.65;• 500 freestyle - 2. Laura Schulze, 6:41.53;• 160 freestyle relay - 2. Wilmunen, Audrey Kothe, Whiting, Adams, 1:29.24; 3. Nicole Charles, Emily Weisinger, Katie Berg, Michelle Houle, 1:37.67;• 100 backstroke - 2. Wilmunen, 1:17.49;• 100 breaststroke - 3. Gotchnik, 1:22.84;• 400 freestyle relay - 3. Houle, Kothe, Charles, Berg, 4:46.32.Wolves seventh at HibbingIn a matchup with mostly large-school competition, Ely had a respectable seventh (out of 11) place performance at the Sept. 25 Hibbing Invitational.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).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.“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.”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).“Ali had a standout meet,” said Nancy Smrekar.Mackie added a pair of ninth-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyles.Bruels was 10th in diving and Guck placed 14th in the 100 butterfly.Ely’s 400 freestyle relay combination of Furnstahl, Chaudoin, Guck and Mackie was fifth.The 200 medley relay foursome of Mackie, Schulze, Chaudoin and Furnstahl wound up seventh.