Girls swimming and diving: Ponies take charge in the SEC

Stillwater’s Tiffany Vang swims to a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly to help lead the Ponies to a Suburban East Conference girls’ swimming and diving victory over Mounds View on Thursday at Stillwater Junior High School. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

Stillwater’s Tiffany Vang swims to a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly to help lead the Ponies to a Suburban East Conference girls’ swimming and diving victory over Mounds View on Thursday at Stillwater Junior High School. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

Facing its stiffest test of the season in the Suburban East Conference, the Stillwater girls’ swimming and diving team took control early and never looked back while dominating Mounds View 96-82 in Thursday’s dual at Stillwater Junior High School.

The Ponies (6-0 SEC, 8-0), who finished first in all 11 swimming events — including all three relays — won the 200 medley relay and then finished 1-2-3 in the 200 freestyle to jump out to a 23-7 after just two events. After Sophia Bisch (2:10.45) and Abby Kunze (2:16.30) finished first and third in the 200 individual medley the Ponies opened up a 33-13 advantage.

Liz Click performs her final dive en route to a second-place finish in that event.

Liz Click performs her final dive en route to a second-place finish in that event.

“The medley relay was really close and then after that we just kind of took them out of the meet and it got lop-sided,” Ponies coach Brian Luke said. “In a meet where they were a slight underdog on paper and to fall behind that far that quickly, it became too big of a hill for them to climb. I thought our girls really stepped up. We haven’t really had a meet to compete at since the Maroon and Gold (Sept. 7) and we had Hastings right out of the box so we have not had a whole of competition and so I was glad to see the girls step up.”

The Ponies extended their dual meet winning streak to 109, including 92 in a row in the conference. Mounds View appeared to be the biggest challenger to end those runs this season.

“Once we got past the 200 free and 200 IM it was like trying to get out of the way of an avalanche for Mounds View, it kept going and going,” Luke said. “I didn’t know what to expect and the Stillwater girls really took Mounds View out of the meet early. The worst thing you can do is open the door and let them stay in it, but we really needed to take it out early and that’s what we did.”

Stillwater outscored the Mustangs by a combined 26-6 in the 200 and 500 freestyle races. Kyle Burgess and Mary Knaak finished first and second in each while Kate Gallagher grabbed that important third spot in the 200 and Sophie Barnes did the same in the 500 to complete a sweep of the top three spots.

“Burgess and Knaak are good for first and second about 95 percent of the time in almost any meet we go to and Gallagher really stepped up there,” Luke said. “Their first person was similar to Barnes, but we also got her into third there.”

Abby Kunze also earned high marks from the coach after winning the 100 backstroke (1:00.65) and leading off the medley relay with a fast split to go along with her third-place finish in the IM.

Freshman Ava Howard (25.26) and seventh-grader Asia Neuman (25.84) provided a boost in the 50 freestyle while Neuman also placed first in the 100 freestyle with a time of 55.53.

“Those are two junior high kids so that bodes well,” said Luke, especially when you consider the Ponies honored 17 athletes as part of Senior Night.

Kristin Erf won the 100 butterfly from one of the outside lanes, a move that Luke successfully pulled with some of his fastest swimmers in a few of the events on Thursday.

“I figured Erf could be out there and could put the other girls where the competition was (in the middle lanes),” Luke said. “(Erf and Burgess) didn’t really need to be in the thick of it.”

Bisch (1:08.13) and Erf (1:08.47) also finished first and second in the 100 breastroke to help the Ponies finish strong.

“We’re starting to come together and we found some third and fourth relays so that will look good for us in a few weeks (at True Team),” Luke said. “That was another thing we wanted to do last night is get four fast relays.”

n Also on Thursday, the Stillwater JV team recorded a 95-80 victory over the Mustangs.

 

Stillwater 96, Mounds View 82

200 medley relay — 1. Stillwater (Abby Kunze, Kristin Erf, Asia Neuman and Ava Howard) 1:52.00; 3. Stillwater (Alex Howard, Margaret Eisenbrandt, Tiffany Vang and Abby Doeksen) 1:58.92.

200 freestyle — 1. Kylie Burgess (St) 1:58.48; 2. Mary Knaak (St) 1:59.44; 3. Kate Gallagher (St) 2:00.33.

200 individual medley — 1. Sophia Bisch (St) 2:10.45; 3. Abby Kunze (St) 2:16.30; 5. Sophie Barnes (St) 2:19.93.

50 freestyle — 1. Ava Howard (St) 25.26; 2. Asia Neuman (St) 25.84; 5. Abby Doeksen (St) 27.00.

Diving — 1. Kylie Kuether (MV) 243.90; 2. Liz Click (St) 213.25; 4. Madeline Gilbert (St) 135.25; 6. Grace Donner (St) 123.15.

100 butterfly — 1. Kristin Erf (St) 59.,42; 2. Tiffany Vang (St) 1:02.69; 4. Alex Howard (St) 1:04.94.

100 freestyle — 1. Asia Neuman (St) 55.53; 3. Kate Gallagher (St) 56.34; 4. Abby Doeksen (St) 57.96.

500 freestyle — 1. Kylie Burgess (St) 5:14.74; 2. Mary Knaak (St) 5:22.44; 3. Sophie Barnes (St) 5:24.38.

200 freestyle relay — 1. Stillwater (Kristin Erf, Asia Neuman, Kylie Burgess and Sophia Bisch) 1:40.81; 3. Stillwater (Tiffany Vang, Lauren Quickel, Kate Gallagher and Mary Knaak) 1:45.21.

100 backstroke — 1. Abby Kunze (St) 1:00.65; 2. Ava Howard (St) 1:00.87; 4. Alex Howard (St) 1:04.69.

100 breastroke — 1. Sophia Bisch (St) 1:08.13; 2. Kristin Erf (St) 1:08.47; 4. Tiffany Vang (St) 1:12.72.

400 freestyle relay — 1. Stillwater (Ava Howard, Kylie Burgess, Mary Knaak and Sophia Bisch) 3:45.46; 2. Stillwater (Alex Howard, Abby Doeksen, Sophie Barnes and Kate Gallagher) 3:52.33.

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