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PREP SWIMMING: Knights, Roughriders qualify 5 swimmers for 200-, 500-meter freestyle finals

Distance events have been the strong suit for Grand Forks swimmers this year. So it's no surprise that Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River proved to be the teams to beat in the North Dakota girls state meet preliminaries Friday in Grand...

Distance events have been the strong suit for Grand Forks swimmers this year.

So it's no surprise that Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River proved to be the teams to beat in the North Dakota girls state meet preliminaries Friday in Grand Forks.

The Knights and Roughriders combined to qualify five swimmers for both the 200- and 500-meter freestyle finals, which will be held this afternoon. Central senior Ali Church won both preliminary races and Grand Forks swimmers hold the top four seeds in the 500 freestyle.

Since 2003, a Grand Forks swimmer has been crowned champion in each event every year but one. Minot's Dagny Knutson, who has since won a gold medal in the world championships, won both events in 2008.

Church, the two-time reigning champion in the 500 freestyle, nearly broke the five-minute mark, posting a time of 5:00.83. Classmate Rachel Svendson claimed the second seed, while Red River senior Addy DiChristina finished third and Central sophomore Katie Svendson finished fourth. Eighth-grader Gretchen Schreiner also qualified for the consolation heat. Ronnie Folkedahl finished 18th and will be one of the alternates.

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Grand Forks had similar success in the 200 freestyle, with Church taking the top seed and DiChristina, both Svendsons and Roughrider junior Breanna Schmidt qualifying for the finals. Church also is the reigning champion in the 200 freestyle event.

"Our team was at 100 percent today for setting season-best times," Grand Forks coach Bryan Walls said. "It has been a good meet for us so far."

Nicole Brelie will also compete in two individual finals. The sophomore Knight placed fourth in the 200 individual medley and 10th in the 100 breaststroke.

"Nicole really stepped up for us today," Walls said. "She moved up quite a bit to help our team get more points."

Grand Forks' lone diver, Madison Remer, will advance to the diving semifinals. Remer scored 159.50 points to take 11th in the one-meter springboard.

Minot senior Courtney Funk set herself up to defend her titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. Funk won both events and set a new state record in the 50 freestyle at 23.37 seconds.

"This has been, hands down, one of the fastest state meets I have ever seen," Walls said. "Someone who would have gotten the fourth seed two years ago would be 10th seed this year. It is really good for our sport."

Competition resumes today at the Hyslop Sports Center at 10:30 a.m. with the diving semifinals. The swimming and diving finals begin at 1:30 p.m.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
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