Published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm / Updated at 9:59 pm
Five swimmers land in all-time Top 10 in girls prelims

LINCOLN — After a regular season without a single all-time Top 10 performance, five swimmers in Friday’s prelims of the girls state high school swimming and diving championships penciled their names into the record book.

Note that those marks are penciled in, because there’s a good chance most or all of those swimmers will go faster in Saturday’s finals, which begin at 11 a.m. at the Devaney Center.

The fun on Friday started in the second individual event and didn’t end until three all-time marks were posted in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Of the first three Top 10 marks, two were turned in by freshmen.

Elizabeth Amato-Hanner of Omaha Westside debuted at No. 10 on the 200-yard individual medley chart with the fastest qualifying time of 2:07.33. Until Amato-Hanner displaced her, Mary Kate Luddy of Millard North was in 10th place with her 2:07.86 in heat two.

Luddy’s time was topped by both Amato-Hanner and Lauren Pavel of Omaha Skutt in the last heat. Pavel qualified second with a 2:07.65.

Lincoln Southwest freshman Alexa Goldenstein took seventh all-time in the 100 butterfly when she qualified with a 57.21.

Columbus/Columbus Scotus junior Laura Miksch then moved from a tie for ninth place to No. 8 in the 50 freestyle with her time of 23.79. Miksch was the only athlete to have two chart marks — she debuted at 10th on the 100 breaststroke chart with a time of 1:06.26.

When Miksch finished her 100 breaststroke race, she was eighth on the all-time list. Then in heat three, Pavel popped a 1:05.15 that put her seventh all-time.

Finally it was Sophia Nelson’s turn. The Southwest junior went 1:06.13 to edge Elkhorn/Elkhorn South’s Yuan Yuan Jiang, who finished in 1:06.28. That put Nelson in ninth ahead of Miksch, with Jiang just 0.02 from her own chart-busting time.

A bit of clarity also came in the chase for the team title. Millard West will have 19 swims and Omaha Marian 18 Saturday between the consolation and championship finals.

Longtime Omaha Westside coach Doug Krecklow, whose team won the 2012 girls team title, said those numbers are among the most important for determining success on Saturday.

“I think it’s pretty clear right now,” Krecklow said. “I always look at the number of swims teams have on the second day. Millard West has 19 and Marian has 18, then there are the rest of us that have between 10 and 13 swims.”

Millard West coach Tracy Stauffer said if the Wildcats perform as well Saturday as they did Friday, things will be looking good for winning their fifth team title in six years.

“We just have to come back and execute like we did today,” Stauffer said. “We just have to take care of our own business and see what happens.”

A number of Millard West swimmers did much better Friday than forecast based on seeds. A 25th-seeded swimmer finished 16th, while other girls jumped from the 20th seed to 10th place and the 14th seed to sixth place.

Moving into the top 16 means West will get points it wasn’t counting on; moving into the top eight means a chance to chase championship points.

“A lot of kids that weren’t seeded in the top 16 did exceptionally well,” Stauffer said. “In some cases it may only be one point, but it gets the team excited when they see that.”

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Contact the writer: Steve Beideck    |   402-618-4113    |  

Steve is a correspondent for The Omaha World-Herald and covers the Omaha Lancers and high school sports.

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