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Young swimmers make strides in 7A

MEDAL WINNERS: Alyssa Ice, Emilia Swenson, Via Debeltz and Anna Larson. Photo by Caleb Larson.

by Tom Coombe

Northeast Range/Ely won’t send anyone to state and the Nighthawks trailed the larger schools in the standings at last week’s Section 7A high school girls swimming meet, but the event nonetheless capped off a solid season for a very young team.

Roughly 90 percent of the Nighthawks’ swims at sections resulted in either season or lifetime-best times, and there were four top-10 finishes at the 7A meet, which wrapped up Saturday at Hibbing.

NRE, which fielded perhaps the youngest team in the section, was 11th among 12 teams overall but head coach Cheri DeBeltz was happy with the results.

“That 90 percent success rate is great and shows how hard these girls worked, and how their hard work pays off,” said DeBeltz. “For many of them they’re just too young to get into that top-16 yet. It’s really exciting to see what some of these young gals are going to do in a few years, or even next year.”

Only a few of the Nighthawks advanced past the Nov. 9 preliminaries into Saturday’s final, where they had one top-eight finish.

That was by the 200 yard freestyle relay foursome of Anna Larson, Emilia Swenson, Via DeBeltz and Alyssa Ice. They took eighth in 1:54.72.

NRE’s 400 freestyle relay foursome of Anna Larson, Jorden Borchert, Tuuli Koivisto and DeBeltz won the consolation relay and settled for ninth overall with a time of 4:17.74.

A third Nighthawks relay  was the 200 medley relay of Swenson, Borchert, Sabrah Hart and Grace Flynn. They were 10th in 2:21.57.

“Even though they took 10th they all had lifetime bests and dropped four seconds and had some great swims,” said DeBeltz.

Individually, Larson made the finals and fared well in consolation heats.

The junior took 10th in the 100 butterfly (1:08.70) and was 11th in the 50 freestyle (27.26).

The only other NRE swimmer to make the finals as an individual was Via DeBeltz.

A sophomore, she finished 15th in the 200 freestyle in 2:19.

“On Saturday we were hanging tight to what we had,” said Cheri DeBeltz. “We had to keep them in the mindset that they belonged there. Some of those more experienced teams swim for Saturday and pursue Saturday and we just try to qualify for Saturday.”

Rock Ridge won the team title with 375 points while Mesabi East (335) took second and Grand Rapids (326.5) placed third.

NRE was 11th with 69, five points behind 10th-place Duluth Denfeld and well ahead of 12th-place Chisholm.

Saturday’s meet capped an impressive year that included some dual meet wins and plenty of progress.

“We will have an interesting couple of seasons coming up,” said Cheri DeBeltz. “It’s been exciting to see some of our girls step into new roles. They have been in the shadows behind some of the graduating seniors and it was great to seem them step into leadership roles in the pool and out of the pool.”

• NRE came home with a Gold Academic Award, which goes to teams with average cumulative grade-point averages of 3.75 or more.

The Nighthawks came in at 3.78.

“I’m very pleased with that award and it shows they are working in and out of the pool, which is a huge motto for us,”  said Cheri DeBeltz. “We want to instill in these girls that they are students first, athletes second and that they are good stewards in their community. That’s why we do some community service things and we want them to understand there’s more to life than being in the water.”

• Among the preliminary results for NRE were:

• 200 freestyle - 14. Via DeBeltz, 2:19.55; 27. Grace Flynn, 2:34.66; 28. Isla Carlson, 2:39.45; 29. Ivy Ohlhauser, 2:42.68;

• 200 individual medley - 26. Koivisto, 2:53.99; 33. Moon Vetos-Keen, 3:23.69;

• 50 freestyle - 24. Swenson, 29.06; 28. Brynn Larson, 30.79;

• 100 butterfly 9. Anna Larson, 1:06.39; 27. Hart, 1:25.14;

• 100 freestyle - 9. Alyssa Ice, 1:00.86; 27. Borchert, 1:07.89; 34. Ohlhauser, 1:11.17; 35. Brynn Larson, 1:11.8;

• 500 freestyle -20. Koivisto, 6:34.64; 28. Flynn, 6:59; 32. Carlson, 7:08.66;

• 200 freestyle relay - 8. Anna Larson, Via DeBeltz, Swenson, Ice, 1:54.13;

• 100 backstroke - 22. Swenson, 1:16.01; 31. Hart, 1:24.63; 32. Lindsay Israel, 1:25.02;

• 100 breaststroke - 25. Borchert, 1:26.92; 43. Bela Moskowitz, 1:51.78.

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