Swimming: Elks thump Armstrong in NWSC 3rd-place duel; sectionals next

Elk senior Tia Volkers smiled and caught her breath after winning a close 500 freestyle race in her final home meet. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

The Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman swimmers capped the regular season on a high note Tuesday evening, beating Robbinsdale Armstrong 103-77 in the NWSC third-place game.

Third place was OK with, but didn’t thrill, the two team leaders.

“We would have liked to get second, and gone up against Maple Grove again,” said Courtney Grunewald, co-captain with fellow junior Allison Schwab.

Marin Hayes stroked her way to third place in the 500 freestyle. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The Elks lost to Centennial (for the first time) early this season and thus did not win their division. Centennial earned the right to meet the perennial champion Maple Grove in the title meet while the Elks hosted the other division’s runner-up, Armstrong.

The Elks finished dual meets 6-3 overall, 6-1 in conference.

There’s been some bright spots for the Elks, now heading into a two-week preparation for sectionals.

“We have a lot more girls this year,” said  Schwab. “We even had to hand out parkas, because we didn’t have enough warmups for everyone … We’ve got way more kids from Rogers this year then we’ve ever had.”

Grunewald and Schwab have qualified for state in both individual events and relays the last two years, and beyond them, much depends on a large junior high group.

“The younger girls are really improving their times,” said Grunewald, who won medley and backstroke against Armstrong plus two relays. “We are very happy with them.”

“We try to help them as much as we can,” said Schwab, who won breaststroke and two relays.

Jessica Young, freshman from Rogers, beamed after her 400 freestyle quartet won their event. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Looking ahead to sectionals Nov. 11-12 at St. Cloud Tech, Grunewald said the medley relay is an event where they have high hopes, along with their own individual events. She was sixth at state in backstroke last year.

Schwab is just starting to go full blast, coming off a shoulder injury.

“I just kicked all summer,” she said, “because of my shoulder. It’s loose, and it would pop out.”

Among the junior-high performers is freshman Jessica Young, the best of the Rogers swimmers on the team. She won the butterfly and led of the winning 400 freestyle relay against Armstrong.

“We’ve got 11 kids from Rogers this year,” she said proudly. “That’s the biggest team Rogers has had.”

The big Rogers group competes in a different true-team section and different MSHSL section than the Elk River and Zimmerman group. Rogers goes to 5A and the Elks to 8AA.

Split up, they are not a contender for team honors. The Elks placed fifth and the Royals sixth in their true-teams last weekend. But they’ll be shooting for individual state berths.

“The 200 is my best shot,” said Young. “”I’m only a second away (from qualifying by standard).”

Young said the three schools mesh together “like a big family.”

What she likes most about swimming, she adds, is that family feeling.

Elk freshman Shannon Schlee churned to third place in the breaststroke. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“And I like pushing myself,” she said. “And I love being in the water.”

Most  exciting race was the 500, where Elk senior Tia Volkers overtook  Amstrong’s Rachel Roddy to win by 2.25 seconds. Armstrong winners were Courtney Evensen in the 200 free, Brooke Evensen in the 50 free, and Ellie Sjordahl in diving.


ERZ 103, Armstrong 77

200 medley relay – (1) Jessica Young, Allison Schwab, Courtney Grunewald, Taylor Odegard, 1:56.41 (2) Armstrong 1:59.51

200 freestyle – (1) Courtney Evensen, Arm, 1:58.75 (2) Emma Ruehle, Arm, 2:00.02 (3) Young 2:03.68

200 individual medley – (1) Grunewald 2:15.21 (2) Brooke Evensen, Arm, 2:18.50 (3) Tia Volkers, ERZ, 2:29.33

50 freestyle –  (1) B. Evensen 24.97 (2) Schwab 25.49 (3) Evensen 26.44

Diving – (1) Ellie Sjordahl, Arm, 193.95 (2) Alyssa Wright, Arm, 159.35 (3) Anna Huss, ERZ, 153.40

100 butterfly – (1) Young 1:07.26 (2) Allison Berger, Arm, 1:09.18 (3) Kayla Kranitz, ERZ, 1:13.31

100 freestyle – (1) Ruehl 56.08 (2) Alaina Sylvester, ERZ, 59.89 (3) Joleen Baker, ERZ, 1:00.08

500 freestyle – (1) Volkers 5:46.95 (2) Rachel Roddy, Arm, 5:48.70 (3) Marin Hayes, ERZ, 5:55.68

200 freestyle relay – (1) Elks: Odegard, Baker, Allison Sterneman, McKenna Holien, 1:48.00 (2) Armstrong 1:49.14

100 backstroke – (1) Grunewald 1:03.96 (2) Odegard 1:08.92 (3) Emma Johnson, ERZ, 1:09.01

100 breaststroke – (1) Schwab 1:11.36 (2) Brittany DeValk, ERZ, 1:17.99 (3) Shannon Schlee, ERZ, 1:22.38

400 freestyle relay – (1) Young, Baker, Schwab, Grunewald, 3:50.37 (2) Elks: Sterneman, Sylvester, Samantha Hendricks, Volkers, 4:05.28