Maple Grove Girls Swim & Dive Section Champs
- Name: Michelle Cortez
- School or league: Maple Grove Senior High School
- Team: Swim & Dive
- Award: Section 8AA Champions
The Maple Grove Girls Swim & Dive team won the Section 8AA Championship for the sixth consecutive year on Saturday, with sophomore Erin Buck and senior Lexi Tenenbaum setting records in the process.
Maple Grove took the top spot in the eight team region that stretches from the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis to Moorhead and Brainerd with a score of 381.5. St. Michael-Albertville and Elk River rounded out the top three, posting scores of 326 and 287, respectively.
“We had our best swims of the year for the section meet, as we planned,” said head coach Matt Schoen. “The three individual and one relay wins led the way to the championship,” which Maple Grove has claimed each year since 2007, he said.
The section championship meet is also used to determine who will participate in the State meet, held next weekend at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. The top eight swimmers in each event at Sections are given medals at an awards ceremony. The top two finishers advance to compete at State against the fastest swimmers across Minnesota.
Junior Molly Hebzynski shaved a full second off her 200 yard Freestyle from preliminaries the day before to finish third in a time of 1:58.83, while senior Brooke Soller finished eighth in a time of 2:02.10.
Sophomore Emily Sjolander took third place in the 200 yard Individual Medley with a time of 2:21.10, slashing nearly four seconds off her best time from earlier in the season. Senior captain Kelly Gu won her heat and ninth place overall with a time of 2:21.57, with senior captain Orly Tenenbaum and freshman Rosie Garvey taking 14th and 16th.
Junior Kristina Rudin tied for fourth place in the 50 yard Freestyle with a time of 25.07, with senior Kirsten Adank finishing 10th and junior Edyn Isaacs taking 16th.
Captain Lexi Tenenbaum topped her own performance to set a new record at the VandenBerg Middle School pool with a score of 485.35 in the 1 meter diving. She also broke the Section 8AA record of 461, which had stood since 2007. Junior Lauren Bjorn took 10th place, while seventh grader Hannah Kreye rounded out the top 16.
Maple Grove was trailing after the first five events, standing in fifth place overall. The team kicked into gear in the second half of the meet. Hebzynski, Adank and junior Vivian Nguyen finished third, fourth and fifth in the 100 yard Butterfly, with senior captain Emily Schwen taking 10th.
Erin Buck set new pool and Section 8AA records in the 100 yard Freestyle with a time of 52.53, breaking Maple Grove’s Tess Behrens pool record set in 2008 and the section record set by Maple Grove’s Melissa Nelson in 2007. Rudin took third place in the event with a time of 54.17, followed by senior Elizabeth Cortez in the 16th spot.
Brooke Soller electrified the crowd with her second place finish in a time of 5:18.41 in the 500 yard Freestyle, coming from behind to nearly take the top spot in the endurance race that run 20 lengths of the pool. Soller shaved time during each lap during the second half of the race and never swam slower than a 32.90, while her competitors fluctuated much more widely and fell off that pace several times. Eighth grader Anne Rouleau finished in fifth place, O.Tenenbaum in sixth and eighth grader Alyssa Haram in ninth.
Maple Grove finished fifth in the 200 yard Freestyle Relay in a time of 1:41.23. The team of Rudin, Adank, Soller and Hebzynski just missed the cut to make it to the State meet by 15 hundreds of a second. Buck won the 100 yard Backstroke in a time of 57.22, with Nguyen finishing eighth, Isaacs taking 12th and Garvey finishing 13th.
Sjolander took seventh place in the 100 yard Backstroke in a time 1:11.94, followed by Gu in ninth and Schwen in 13th.
Maple Grove won the final event of the night, the 400 yard Freestyle relay. The team of Soller, Hebzynski, Rouleau and Buck finished in 3:38.37.
The evening was bittersweet for the team’s 11 seniors, faced with the looming end to their high school swimming careers. The bonds built during hours in the pool and at dryland sessions, sleepovers and bonfires, potlucks and 6 a.m. breakfasts will last a lifetime, said captain Orly Tenenbaum.
“I am so proud of the girls who made it to State, including my sister Lexi, Brooke, Erin and our relay team,” said Tenenbaum, who has been on the team since 8th grade. “I am going to miss the team atmosphere. It’s going to be weird not seeing all of them every day. I wish the best of luck to the girls next year and I will miss them all.”