By Coach Chris Mayer

 

The Winhawk ladies’ swim and dive team had a great state meet earlier this month. Our five state qualifiers, Ava Pike, Harper Wolner, Maddie Modjeski, Makayla Finnegan, and Abby Williams, were joined by four alternates, Ava Koopman, Erica Beckman, Kenley Jacobs, and Piper Jones. All nine had a memorable meet and enjoyed preparing for the next few years of potential state berths. As a team, we placed 37th of 44 scoring teams, a great accomplishment for our young team!

For all but Ava Pike, this was the first time at the state meet for the girls. The emotions at state are beyond anything athletes are used to. There’s always a desire to race hard and perform well, but accompanying those desires are fears and nerves that they are not always ready for. You can train hard in the pool and prepare them to race fast, but preparing an athlete for 1,000 people in the stands and pressure to perform is something that you can’t always teach. Hopefully, after this weekend, the girls have a better idea of what takes place at state as they will hopefully be there again next year!

Before the meet, we encouraged them to enjoy time with their teammates, cheer loudly, and regardless of how they performed, know that the city of Winona, both Cotter and Winona Senior High schools, and the coaching staff were incredibly proud of all of them for reaching heights that we had not achieved in 10 years!

In the medley relay, Harper, Abby, Makayla, and Ava knew it was going to take some very fast swimming to make it the finals. The four gave an incredible effort and added just a bit of time. Unfortunately, they finished in 17th place with their 1:53.44, just missing the 16th-place cutoff to swim in finals. Sixteenth place was .24 seconds ahead of us — so close, but I hope this spurs a desire for the girls to come back and achieve it next year!

In the 200 individual medley, Abby added just a bit of time in prelims and finished in 15th place with her 2:16.27. Abby had a strong race in finals as well and finished in 16th place overall with her 2:17.68. Great swims for one of only seven ninth graders who made the entire state meet!

Ava Pike added a bit of time in the 50 freestyle and finished in 26th place with her 26.27. Not quite what Ava wanted, but again, nerves were a bit hard to overcome.

Up next was Harper’s 100 backstroke. Similar to our medley relay, Harper added just a bit of time and missed out on finals as she earned 19th place (1:02.61).

Abby was back in action in the prelims of the 100 breaststroke where she earned 10th (1:08.32) and another swim in the finals! Abby added just a bit of time in finals and finished in 1:09.06, taking 11th overall as one of three ninth graders to make the 100 breaststroke cut!

Finally, in the 400 freestyle relay, Ava, Maddie, Harper, and Abby went out and gave their best but fell just a bit short again (22nd, 3:51.98). I know the girls were disappointed in their effort, but I was proud of all of them, as they gave their best, and that is all I could ask for! I reminded a few of what it took to even make it to the state meet – early mornings, tough afternoons, and all of them fighting through illness (a few battled COVID during the season). To be at the state meet was an accomplishment, and sending two relays and five individuals was nothing short of incredible! I could not have been happier with their performances and efforts!

This was such a great season for our Winhawk girls’ swim and dive and team. We finished with a positive dual meet record, we had great performances at True Team, Big 9, and one of the highest finishes in years at sections. The trip to state with these girls was the cherry on top. I hope the girls are inspired to reach even greater heights next year. I’m already looking forward to it!