Kiander returns to state podium
Tomahawk senior Marlee Kiander faced a daunting task on Friday-cracking the podium in what turned out to be the most challenging event of the D2 WIAA State Swim Meet.
Not one, not two, but three swimmers broke the state record in the 100 breaststroke, Kiander’s best event and most likely shot at a medal as the returning fifth-place winner.
But Kiander dug deep into her reserves and swam a sixth-place 1:06.86, putting her atop the treasured dais.
“Swimming the most competitive event of the night, Marlee gave it her all to finish sixth behind a blistering win by Catholic Memorial’s Anna Meinholz, who set a new state record at 1:03.06,” THS coach Theresa L’Esperance said. “Actually, the first three swimmers all broke the state record. Of all the events to swim, the breaststroke was the only event to set a new state record, and Marlee just happened to be a part of a record setting three-year pattern for that event.”
Kiander has certainly entertained success this year in the event.
“Marlee only lost one time in the breast this year and that was to Division 1 Eau Claire Memorial swimmer, Leah Pronschinske, who will probably win the D1 event,” L’Esperance said, overestimating Pronschinske’s performance by one spot. “From a coaching perspective, we knew she would not be in the lead heading down the last 25, I should have prepared her for that scenario.
“It is so much easier to swim faster when one is in the lead versus trying to play catch up. All in all, Marlee got a medal swimming faster then she did last year and now she has two state medals, both in the breaststroke. I couldn’t be happier for her and our program.”
Kiander also qualified for the state meet in the 100 freestyle, and swam a solid 13th in :54.70.
“In the 100 Free, Marlee set a new personal in her first 50, going out in a 26.24 and then slightly missed a turn to finish 13th,” L’Esperance said. “It was our goal from the beginning of the year to get Marlee to state in two events, so she could get a feel of the water before swimming her main event, the breaststroke. She is still the only THS swimmer to swim a 54, and she did it twice this year!”
It’s a no-brainer that the team will feel the loss of Kiander next year.
“We will truly miss Marlee,” L’Esperance said. “What a great athlete, student and all around great kid. She went undefeated in dual meets for three years in the breast, was 3-time GNC champion and record holder in the breast and a 3-time sectional champion in the 100 free and 100 breast.
“She is the only THS swimmer to be a sectional champion in an individual event. She holds four school records and is the single greatest swimmer in school history. Her positive and motivating mental competitiveness in the pool will be missed.”
Three Hatchet relay teams have been sectional champions.