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Something to smile about

Members of the 200 medley relay team from Hastings receive their medals during a ceremony Saturday night at the University of Minnesota. Pictured from left to right are Leah Wallace, Brina Kari, Kate Reilly and Alyssa Spitzack.1 / 4
Hastings swimmer Brina Kari gives coaches the thumbs-up.2 / 4
Kate Reilly takes a breath while swimming the freestyle during the state meet finals on Saturday. She qualified for the state meet in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.3 / 4
Leah Wallace swims the butterfly during the state meet finals on Saturday night.4 / 4

For those who follow high school swimming closely, there are relatively few surprises each season. It seems like certain teams are always good. The results for most meets are rather predictable, given the times that each team turns in.

Spreadsheets are everywhere with everyone's best times.

So, to hear a coach be amazed at a result is rare, to say the least.

That's exactly how Hastings coach Katie McAlpin feels this week, though, following the swim turned in by her 200 medley relay team.

Had you told her in August that a Hastings team would place that high at the state meet, she would not have believed you. It's not that she didn't believe in her athletes. Rather, she was studying times and the Raiders just didn't have the times necessary to place that high.

"I never thought we'd place that high," she said. "I didn't see it coming."

But a lot changed between August and last week's state meet, which was held at the University of Minnesota.

"They just all worked a lot harder this year," McAlpin said. "They stepped up as a team. That's about all I can say about it."

The medley relay team of eighth-grader Brina Kari, junior Alyssa Spitzack, junior Leah Wallace and sophomore Kate Reilly will all be back for more next year, too, and they hope to trim some time off their finish to set a new school record. This year's team qualified for the state finals with a time of 1 minute 50.65 seconds. In the finals they had a time of 1:51.04.

The medley relay wasn't the only team from Hastings to fare well. The 400 freestyle relay team advanced to finals and placed 12th. They had a time in prelims of 3:36.91 and a time in finals of 3:37.91.

The team was made up of Kari, Cassie Kimmes, Wallace and Reilly.


Kate Reilly placed 12th in the 50 freestyle.

The sophomore had a time in the prelims of 24.50 and a time in the finals of 24.56.

"She had a really good section meet, and in my coaching experience, we don't often have a good section meet and a good state meet," McAlpin said. "She had both. Kate gets excited out there, and when she gets excited, she can go fast no matter what."

Reilly placed 20th in the 100 freestyle, too. She had a time of 54.11.

"Twentieth in the state for a sophomore isn't bad," McAlpin said.

In the 200 freestyle, HHS senior Cassie Kimmes swam to an 18th-place finish with a time of 1:56.41. She went into the meet seeded 25th and moved up seven spots.

Kimmes qualified for finals in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:06.34 and ended up placing 12th with a time of 5:07.75 in finals.

"Cassie was very, very impressive at the state meet," McAlpin said. "Her swims. Her attitude. Everything about Cassie at the state meet was very impressive.

"She was very happy with her swims. The 500 was her last individual swim as a high schooler. She wanted to go out there and swim it and have fun doing it. She went out and did. She came back with a smile on her face and she was very happy with how she did. She wanted to stay under a 5:08 and she did."

In the 100 butterfly, Leah Wallace placed 10th. She had a prelims time of 59.35 and then cut time in finals, finishing in 58.80.

"That is her best time," McAlpin said. "She just has a tendency to make butterfly look easy, and she did at state."

Kari, the eighth-grader, placed 13th in the 100 backstroke. She swam a 1:01.00 in prelims and a 1:00.21 in finals.

"More than anything, this meet was a learning experience for her," McAlpin said. "She learned she can swim with the big dogs."

The trip home

While the state meet might have gone exceptionally well for the Raiders, the trip home on Saturday night was anything but.

The team stopped in St. Paul for dinner, where they were delayed. Eventually, at about 11 p.m., the team left downtown St. Paul in a bus for Hastings. Incredibly icy roads slowed the trip down, to say the least. The team didn't arrive back in Hastings until 5 a.m.

"It was a state meet we will never forget," McAlpin said. "There were lots of interesting stories along the way. As a team, it was good for us to spend all that time together. I was very proud of the girls for how well they did, being stuck on the bus for that long. They're good kids. I wouldn't want to be stuck with any other bunch."