Fall preview: swimmingEvery August, Katie McAlpin gets excited about swimming. It’s a passion she has had since she swam in the school colors for Hastings High School, and it’s one that continues on as the team’s head coach.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Every August, Katie McAlpin gets excited about swimming. It’s a passion she has had since she swam in the school colors for Hastings High School, and it’s one that continues on as the team’s head coach.
This year, that excitement is well-founded.
“I get excited every year, but this year it’s even better,” she said. “We didn’t really lose a lot of swimmers from last year’s team. We lost only one state-meet swimmer. We picked up a few more girls – we’re up five kids, and that’s always good, too.”
Captains for the Raiders are Marissa Novak, Alyssa Spitzack and Melanie Waibel.
Novak has competed primarily on the junior varsity on the past. Her best events are the backstroke and the butterfly.
“We just put her wherever we need her,” McAlpin said. “She’s bubbly and spunky and fun. We love that. She got voted as a captain by her teammates because she’s a good peacemaker. She’s just happy and nice to everybody.”
Spitzack was a member of a state meet relay team last year, swimming the breaststroke leg of the medley relay. She swims primarily the breaststroke and the individual medley.
“She’s a hard worker,” McAlpin said. “She’s is well-liked throughout the whole team and was one of the captains who was texting me throughout the summer, looking to help out. She’s pretty good at finding things she can help with.”
Waibel is a sprint freestyler.
“She comes from a very hard-working family,” McAlpin said. “She’s really good at being involved and helping out with anything that is asked of her.”
State meet experience
Hastings has a number of returning state meet swimmers this year.
The 200 medley relay team placed fifth with a finals time of 1 minute, 51.04 seconds. Those four swimmers all return this year. The team was made up of Brina Kari, Spitzack, Leah Wallace and Kate Reilly.
Reilly qualified in the 50 freestyle, too, and ended up placing 12th with a time of 24.56.
Wallace swam in the 100 butterfly and took 10th in 58.80.
Kari took 13th in the 100 backstroke, finishing in 1:00.21.
The 400 freestyle relay team placed 12th, and just one member of that team graduated. Kari, Wallace and Reilly all return.
Hastings has a total of 22 girls out for the team this year, which is five more than last year.
In addition to Waibel, Spitzack and Novak, Hastings has three more seniors on the team.
They are Melanie Devine, Mariah Wallace and Liz Cole, who was injured last year.
Juniors are Reilly and Julia Donath.
Sophomores are Abbie Gjelhaug, Sydney Clark, Christina Gillard, Megan Jahnke, Addyson Moore and Valya Tipler.
Freshmen include Kari, Nikki Girgen, Sam Matsch, Morgan McCullough and Gretta Utecht.
Eighth-graders Breanna Kimmes and Allissa Smith are also out for the team.
McAlpin hopes to qualify three Hastings relay teams for the state meet.
“I definitely want to do that,” she said. “I think it’s doable.”
In addition, McAlpin wants to win every dual meet the team swims in. She understands that beating Stillwater will be unrealistic (they have more than 90 swimmers and Hastings has just 22), but she’d ultimately like to win every other meet.
She also wants to win the Buffalo Invitational again this year.
“We’ve been going back and forth with Buffalo,” she said. “We win the meet for a couple years, then they win it. We want to get the title back.”
Again this season, expect to see Stillwater among the conference’s top teams, and the state’s. Their numbers are just hard to beat, McAlpin said.
Hastings will be competing in a new section this year. The Raiders used to be in Section 3AA with schools like Cretin-Derham Hall, Woodbury and Park. This year Hastings will be in Section 1AA with the Rochester schools. It’s the same section the boys compete in.
“I’m excited,” McAlpin said. “The girls always swim great down in Rochester.”