November 22, 2022 at 4:20 p.m.
Melrose swimmers medal in every event
The Minnesota State High School League Class A Girls Swimming and Diving State Tournament at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis was one for the Melrose Area Lady Dutchmen record book.
“We finished eighth as a team. That’s the highest finish ever,” said Nathan Meyer, head coach. “We medaled in every event we were in.”
Melrose scored 86 points. Team champion Visitation scored 397 to lead the 43 teams in the standings. If a school had only one competitor at the meet, it was considered to have a team in the meet. Any finish in the top 16 earned points for a team.
The Lady Dutchmen knew it was in for a good meet in preliminaries Nov. 17. The 200 medley relay of Makayla Zirbes, Hallie Drossel, Paige Gruber and Kaydence Bertram took to the water and finished with the state’s best. The team was the third seed after the preliminaries.
“They finished at 1:49.39, that’s a school record,” Meyer said.
The quartet was not the same one which had won the event at the Section 6A Girls Swim and Dive Meet a week earlier. Zirbes joined the squad, swimming the backstroke leg.
“Makayla did a great job,” Meyer said. “Swimming in that, she gave us a good leadoff leg.”
Drossel, Bertram and Gruber followed and kept up with strong swims. When the final times showed, Melrose was .19 out of second place and .72 out of first place.
The Lady Dutchmen saw every one of its state entries qualify for the Nov. 18 championship heat. The 200 freestyle relay grouping of Brooke Ruoff, Drossel, Bertram and Gruber finished at 1 minute, 39.80 seconds, tying for the fourth seed. Drossel qualified in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke championships.
In the championships, the Lady Dutchmen were involved in close races. The 200 medley relay finished at 1:50.06, taking fourth in the state, .58 of a second out of third place.
“They had a heck of a swim,” Meyer said. “It was impressive how the medley relay did.”
The 200 freestyle relay team finished at 1:40.88, taking eighth place in another tight race, .78 of a second from taking fifth place. The eighth-place finish qualified them for a state medal. Some wondered if Meyer might have moved Drossel off that relay, as the 100 breaststroke, where she was the defending state champion, was soon after the relay.
“She is big part of the relay getting into the top eight,” Meyer said. “It doesn’t give you much time to get ready, but we needed her in that relay and she did a great job.”
Drossel, who had finished fifth in the 200 individual medley, won the state title in the 100 breaststroke championship. Those finishes were part of day in which every Melrose swimmer earned a state medal. This is the second time the Lady Dutchmen have done that. In 2004, a relay, diver and swimmer all medaled.
“They all got medals, but we didn’t medal in every event,” Meyer said.
The Lady Dutchmen produced one other major achievement, as Drossel achieved a mark that might be tied but not surpassed.
“Hallie earned four state medals,” Meyer said. “We’ve never had a swimmer win four medals in one state meet before.”