Kiander heading back to state

The Hatchet swim team put it all on the line when they swam in Saturday’s WIAA Stevens Point Sectional, hitting top times in numerous events.

But the highlight has to be Marlee Kiander’s 100 breaststroke race that earned her a return trip to state.

Kiander swam third in the event and only the winner is an automatic qualifier, but her time of 1:09.28 ranks seventh overall, easily giving her a provisional entry.

“I have never witnessed in my 13 years coaching here at Tomahawk or of my years in Minnesota, a swimmer leave the pool so angry or motivated to continue her race,” THS coach Theresa L’Esperance said. “After finishing a personal record and runner-up swim in the 100 Freestyle-second all time in Hatchet history-Marlee swam a personal best in her anchor leg of the 200 free relay. All looked good for a fast time and placement in the 100 Breaststroke. Swimming against two seniors, both whom she beat last year, Marlee seemed a little tense and nervous At this stage of the game, a swimmer has to believe whole-heartedly of their ability and strengths, any tiny doubt will add split seconds to a swim and that is exactly what happened. Marlee was completely aware of her mistake, and that was her doubt. She is already preparing herself for next week’s race and will have no doubts about what her race will be like. From a coaching perspective, I have never coached an athlete with her motivational and personal sense of her ability and competitiveness.”

Kiander also ranked 2nd in the 100 free in :56:18, but her 19th-best time just missed the top-16 cut-off.

As a team, Tomahawk finished 11th with 77 points, but lit it up personally.

“We had by far the best taper in the pool!” L’Esperance said. “Swimming the best on the day were Sami Kleich and Amanda Koshak, both swam personal records in every event they swam! Megan White (3/4), Hannah Schmit (3/4), and Kelsy Maki (2/3) only missed one event each in setting personal records.

“The sweetest race of the day was the 100 butterfly in which both White and Kleich were competing. At the wall, White was stunned to see her 1:11.40 time and Kleich was whooping it up in her lane with a 1:13.86 time! These girls had swam 1:15 and 1:16 respectively the previous week and actually Kleich two weeks before had set a personal record with a 1:19! Just a few years ago, Kleich’s time would have been worthly of a podium finish.”

White ranked 15th and Kleich was 21st.

The 200 medley team of Kelsey Maki, Kiander, White and Hannah Schmit ranked 10th in 2:06.48). The THS girls collected 11th’s with the 200 free team (White, Schmit, Koshak, Kiander, 1:52.17) and the 400 free (White, Schmit, Kleich, Koshak, 4:13.02). Maki swam 14th in the 100 back in 1:13.41 and Koshak scored 16th in the 500 free in 6:19.76.

“I underestimated this team,” L’Esperance said. “Coaches in the pool on Saturday probably did not feel threatened by our times, but what they fail to realize is what these girls accomplished over the whole season. This team has improved more than any other team in the conference as well as the sectional, and it was evident in their performances on Saturday. The coaching staff was awed by all the performances by the girls.”

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