From: Head Choach Chris Mayer


It was a bittersweet end to an amazing season for the Winhawk Ladies swim and dive team at last Friday’s section finals in Rochester, Minn. Our girls were on a rollercoaster; there were some incredible high moments with some of the fastest times in school history, but unfortunately most of the girls were wishing that their season and races ended differently. As a team, we finished fifth of 10 teams, scoring 234 points. The totals are as follows: Mankato West 402, St Peter 334, New Prague 291, Red Wing 270, Mankato East 232, Austin 157, Tri-City United 84, Faribault 71, and Albert Lea 51. We returned athletes in all events except the 50 free and had quite a few in the consolation and final heats.

The rollercoaster started in the medley relay. Our girls knew they had a good shot of making the state cut, and they went for it. All four girls, Anna MacLennan, Emily Robison, Abby Williams, and Ava Pike, had their best individual splits of the race, and they made the state cut, taking second in the event with their 1:42.64 minute finish. Unfortunately, there was a little movement getting into place prior to the start of the race, and our relay was disqualified. They went from the apex of the rollercoaster to the very bottom in a split second. This is the hardest part of being a coach: Encouraging your athletes to pick their chin up and look forward to their other races after a mistake that crushed their dreams and season goals. Not an easy task for the most seasoned or best coaches out there, but we grieved together and encouraged their spirits to move forward with the remainder of the meet.

The mood brightened in the consolation heat of the 200 freestyle as Maddie Modjeski raced with the fastest in the heat and dropped two more seconds to finish in 11th place, improving to a 2:07.67 minutes. That time is just outside of the top 20 all-time. Anna Mac and Ava P. swam great races in the final heat, but we could tell their thoughts dwelled on the medley relay. Anna was just off her best from Wednesday as she finished fourth in 2:03.97. Ava went after the race a little faster in the first half but added just a little time in the back half, finishing in seventh with her 2:07.91. Anna’s 2:03.33 will remain as the 10th best time in Winhawk history while Ava’s 2:05.27 will take 19th.

Grace Nelson had the best 200 individual medley swim of her career, dropping two seconds to almost win the consolation heat, finishing in 2:24.93, missing ninth by .04. Grace’s time is now the 16th best all-time. Emily Robison swam a good race and held her seed time and placing, finishing at 2:33.07 which was good for 16th. Abby was seeded fourth after prelims Wednesday and improved from that time, finishing third with her 2:20.42. That time is now the ninth fastest time in school history.

Ayanna King was our highest scoring diver as she finished ninth overall with her 282.80 points. It was a great season for all of our divers under new diving coach Isaiah Warning.

We had an excellent showing in the 100 butterfly as Abby dropped time and finished in seventh place with her 1:04.83. Harper Wolner dropped almost a full second to finish in fourth place with her 1:03.37. Harper’s time is now the eighth fastest time in history, and Abby’s is the 14th.

Ava Pike raced hard again, dropping time in the 100 freestyle to finish in eighth place with her 56.43. That time is the 14th fastest time in school history.

The is always fun to watch because it’s a test of endurance and of how much each person can hold on. Anna McCormick swam in the consolation heat and was out fast, improving in her placing, taking 15th overall with her 6:04.42. Grace Nelson saved a little bit of energy for the 400 freestyle relay and swam a controlled 5:49.82, taking eighth place, and Maddie held her time but improved in placing, taking fourth overall with her 5:40.35. Grace’s prelim time of 5:42.41 will be the 15th fastest time in school history and Maddie’s 5:40.33 will be the 13th.

The 200 freestyle relay was another great race where we had a shot of making the state cut time, but with emotions a little low and momentum not on their side, our girls were a little off. All four again swam their best 50 freestyles of their careers, but it wasn’t enough as they missed the state cut by 0.3 seconds. Three tenths of a second in a minute and forty two second race … another tough break for the girls, but they gave it their best and I can’t fault them for that. They took third overall with their 1:41.91, a time that is ninth in school history. Also, Anna Mac’s leadoff of 26.06 is the 17th fastest 50 free in school history.

Harper and Anna Mac battled it out again in the 100 backstroke, as Harper finished third with her 1:02.11 and Anna fourth with her 1:02.23 — another incredible race for both of these ladies. Those times are the third and fourth fastest times in school history. In order to make the state cut of 1:00.54, one of the girls would have had to set the school record that stands at 1:00.58. That’s how fast the cut times are to make it to state.

Emily Robison had our last individual race of the day as she improved in time and place in the 100 breaststroke, taking third with her 1:11.92, which moves her up to sixth all time in school history.

The last race, the 400 freestyle relay, saw our girls improve in time and placing as we took sixth with our 3:55.75, the team of Grace, Ava Koopman, Maddie, and Harper. All four ladies had great races, and that time will sit at 21st all time.

It was a bittersweet end to a career for our senior section girls: Anna Mac, Anna Mc, and Emily. They finish as some of the best in school history, but there will always be that longing of “what if.” There are no words a coach can say that can alter that feeling other than to keep striving for higher and better than what you just accomplished. They have become wonderful leaders on this team, and we are hopeful that they decide to swim in college as they would be welcomed contributions to any team.

We officially ended the season on Tuesday with a team banquet and recognition of this amazing season. We won six out of 10 dual meets, swam incredibly fast times, had improvement percentages that we have never seen before (a few improving 20 percent in some races!) and we continue to turn out great leaders, great teammates, and wonderful women. I may be disappointed in how the season ended, but I always remind myself that it’s not about the placing, the records, or the accolades; it’s about how we teach these girls to respect and better themselves, each other, and to be optimistic and make great changes in the world and future in front of them.