Fourteen swimmers from Virginia, Eveleth-Gilbert and Mesabi East will be headed to Minneapolis this week to put their talents up against the best in the state.

The girls have been cutting time in the Section 7A prelims and finals and are hoping to do the same starting Thursday at the State Swimming and Diving Meet on the University of Minnesota campus.

“I think it’s in there,’’ Eveleth-Gilbert head coach Perry Brown said of his girls’ ability to cut time.

His state qualifiers — Elli Jankila, Mollie Albrecht, Amara Carey and Carly George — are complete believers in their coach’s philosophy, except for the recent cake social sending them off to state.

The swim team girls diligently watch what they eat as part of their training and were a bit surprised when Brown said they could have a piece of cake (or even two) at the social.

“They thought I was losing it’’ until he told them they couldn’t eat it until after the state meet. “Then they knew I hadn’t lost it,’’ he joked.

The Virginia and Mesabi East swimmers have been equally diligent in their training leading up to state.

The Blue Devils will be sending junior diver Helen Phenning (third at sections) and junior Lauryn Devich in the 100 breaststroke (second at sections).

Mesabi East, meanwhile, had 8 state qualifiers: Senior Grace Brunfelt in the 200 freestyle (2nd at sections) and the 500 freestyle (third at sections); junior Kailey Fossell in diving (Section 7A champion); Sophomore Emma Williams in the 100 backstroke (Section 7A champion); sophomore Siiri Hakala in the 100 backstroke (second at sections); the second place 200 medley relay of Williams, sophomore Kylie Meyer, junior Lydia Skelton and senior Hannah Nygaard; and the second place 400 freestyle relay of Skelton, Nygaard, junior Adrianna Lehmkuhl and Brunfelt.


Blue Devils head coach Dan Boelk said Phenning (first time qualifying for state) and Devich (returning to state) had slightly different reactions to their performances at sections last week.

“Helen was very happy with her performance, and Lauryn swam a little slower than planned at section finals after a slight mishap before the meet started,’’ Boelk said. “But she will be fully tapered and ready for state prelims this Friday, and I believe she will be healed up and ready to swim her race down there.’’

Both were thrilled to qualify for state, however.

“Yes, they were happy to make it out of sections to state. I think just getting out of our section and making it to state is a huge accomplishment because there was a lot of good swimming and diving at sections this year,’’ he added.

“Beings Lauryn has been to the state meet in the past and making consolation finals last year, her goal has been to move up spots and hopefully she will hit the championship heat at finals this year,’’ Boelk said.


Golden Bears head coach Perry Brown said Jankila “had a very good time’’ in the 50 freestyle, which put her into the state meet. While the top two spots in each swimming event qualify automatically, Jankila reached by tying the state qualifying mark of 24.81. “Anywhere in the 24 second area is pretty amazing,’’ he added.

With Jankila’s focus before and throughout the event, Brown is “expecting here to go a little faster when she gets down there’’ to Minneapolis.

Albrecht also took third in the 100 freestyle by beating the state qualifying time. Brown said he has been working with her on negative splitting the 100. He said she is almost faster in the second 50 yards than in the first 50. He has backed off a bit on that, though, with all of the success she has had.

Mesabi East

The Mesabi East 200 medley relay grabbed second place at sections, which Isaacson said they “happy with.’’

The 400 freestyle relay team touched out Hibbing for second place and is now seeded in the top 16, as is Brunfelt in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle and Williams and Hakala in the 100 backstroke.

Overall, the Giants swimmers all hope they can swim a little faster, which will help establish that they can do that at the state level, he said.


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