Victories in four consecutive events midway through the meet helped carry the Stillwater girls’ swimming and diving team to a victory at Thursday’s season-opening Suburban East Conference Relays at Stillwater Junior High School.
The nine-time defending conference champion Ponies totaled 136 points to outdistance runner-up Woodbury (110) and third-place Mounds View (96) in the 10-team field. East Ridge (82) and Hastings (72) followed in fourth and fifth place.
Stillwater placed third in the 400 medley relay and second in the 200 freestyle relay to start the meet, but took control with first-place finishes in each of the next four races, including the 400 individual medley relay, 200 butterfly relay, 800 freestyle relay and the 200 backstroke relay.
“The first couple of relays we got third and second and I know to win that meet you have to win some races, so we had to get on the stick,” Ponies coach Brian Luke said. “They started winning and that stretched it out and those other teams were kind of moving around so we opened up a lead. By the time we got down to the end it was too much for anyone to overcome.”
Kylie Burgess, Sophie Barnes, Abby Kunze and Sophia Bisch turned in a time of 4:16.52 to win the 400 individual medley relay while Mary Knaak, Sammi Potts, Lauren Quickel and Bisch posted a winning time of 1:53.28 in the 200 butterfly relay.
“I figured the IM and fly we should do OK,” Luke said. “WE kind of loaded those up a little bit.”
Knaak, Hannah Sneden, Claire Rutscher and Burgess prevailed in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 8:11.13 and the Ponies also claimed the 200 backstroke relay with Rutscher, Barnes, Kunze and Burgess posting a winning time of 1:54.43.
“For the first meet, you see some things,” Luke said. “The other teams would have three and then maybe a weaker leg. We tended to have a stronger four the other teams.”
And while the Ponies have dominated this conference over the past decade, the others have certainly not thrown in the towel. Hastings placed fifth in this event, but should be one of the stronger dual meet teams in the conference Luke knows Woodbury, East Ridge and Mounds View will be strong again based on Thursday’s showing.
“It’s getting deeper,” the coach said. “East Ridge is much improved, Woodbury is better and Hastings in a dual meet should be vying for the championship. Mounds View is much improved also. It should be a pretty good conference this year, I think.”
1. Stillwater 136; 2. Woodbury 110; 3. Mounds View 96; 4. East Ridge 82; 5. Hastings 72; 6. Roseville 46; 7. White Bear Lake 44; 8. Forest Lake 32; 9. Cretin-Derham Hall 30; 10. Park 6.
400 medley relay — 1. Woodbury, 4:12.26; 3. Stillwater (Abby Kunze, Tiffany Vang, Lauren Quickel and Kate Gallagher) 4:20.55; 14. Stillwater B (Katelyn Weisbrod, Megan Weaver, Greta Peterson and Gabby Murer) 4:50.74.
200 freestyle relay — 1. East Ridge, 1:44.03; 2. Stillwater (Miranda Meier, Sammi Potts, Hannah Sneden and Sophia Bisch) 1:45.22; 14. Stillwater B (Haley Carlson, Lila Yokanovich, Ally Parent and Elliana Sherman) 2:24.32.
400 individual medley relay — 1. Stillwater (Kylie Burgess, Sophie Barnes, Abby Kunze and Sophia Bisch) 4:16.52; 8. Stillwater B (Anne Campbell, Alex Howard, Courtney Cullen and Paige Aschenbrener) 4:57.28.
Diving — 1. Woodbury, 177.30; 3. Stillwater (NA) 142.00; 8. Stillwater B (NA) 86.50.
200 butterfly relay — 1. Stillwater (Mary Knaak, Sammi Potts, Lauren Quickel and Sophia Bisch) 1:53.28; 10. Stillwater B (Ellen Kneeskern, Hannah Keller, Anna Kobilka and CArley Christian) 2:12.66.
800 freestyle relay — 1. Stillwater (Mary Knaak, Hannah Sneden, Claire Rutscher and Kylie Burgess) 8:11.13; 6. Stillwater B (Robyn Doughty, Abby Doeksen, Claire Haws and Molly Mapstone) 9:11.16.
200 backstroke relay — 1. Stillwater (Claire Rutscher, Sophie Barnes, Abby Kunze and Kylie Burgess) 1:54.43; 9. Stillwater B (Ava Howard, Maddy Verette, Marietta Johns and Jenna Jezorski) 2:19.96.
200 breastroke relay — 1. Woodbury, 2:13.02; 2. Stillwater (Tiffany Vang, Kate Gallagher, Sophie Barnes and Megan Weaver) 2:19.47; 12. Stillwater B (Morgan McBride, Katie Clark, Olivia Novotny and Emily Tibbets) 2:36.93.
400 freestyle relay — 1. Woodbury, 3:46.02; 3. Stillwater (Sammi Potts, Mary Knaak, Kate Gallagher and Claire Rutscher) 3:47.14; 14. Stillwater B (Abby Peterson, Lauren Elowson, Jane Delahunt and Mackenzie Fenner) 4:27.40.