Seniors to lead Stingrays at state meetWORTHINGTON — As the end of the season approaches for the Worthington Stingrays, top girl and boy swimmers Kari Engelkes and Dave Sorensen finally have someone to compete against besides each other.
WORTHINGTON — As the end of the season approaches for the Worthington Stingrays, top girl and boy swimmers Kari Engelkes and Dave Sorensen finally have someone to compete against besides each other.
The high-school seniors won just about every race in which they swam during the regular season.
Practice usually provides more heated competition (albeit friendly), because neither one likes to lose to the other.
“That’s the best thing about beating her, because she always gets mad,” Sorensen said, grinning, before adding: “But she can beat me. … She’s beaten me before.”
On Sunday, it’s time to see if all that practice has paid off.
Engelkes, Sorensen and 23 other Stingrays qualified for Sunday’s YMCA state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis.
Head coach Donna Damm said it’s the largest proportion of her team she has ever taken to the Twin Cities.
“I can’t remember a year when I’ve taken this many kids, percentage-wise,” she said.
Worthington’s swim program is gaining popularity, thanks in large part to the brand new swimming pool at the recently-constructed YMCA.
The number of swimmers has swelled, especially in the younger ranks — more than 40 Stingrays participated in meets this season.
“This year, compared to last year, there’s a lot more kids — littler kids,” Sorensen said. “The new facility, that’s probably the biggest reason.”
The team even hosted three meets; something unheard of in years past, because of the lack of space in the old YMCA pool.
“It makes a difference how big the pool is,” Sorensen said. “The waves come off the wall when you hit your strokes, so the bigger it is, most of the time the faster it is in the middle.”
Not that Sorensen needed any help posting fast times.
He claimed a couple of first-place finishes at the sectional meet, in both the 50-yard freestyle (25.06 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (1:15.09). He also took second in the 100 freestyle (58.40).
For Engelkes, the size of the pool doesn’t make much difference — water is water.
She said better competition is what brings her times down, and she’s expecting plenty of it at state.
“At regular meets, there’s not a whole lot of older girls there, so there’s not much competition,” she said. “When you get to the state meet, it’s higher ranks, and it’s tougher.”
The only races Engelkes lost this season were at the sectional meet, where she placed second in three freestyle races (50, 100 and 200-yards).
She’s used to the state competition, after qualifying for the state meet practically every year she’s been a Stingray.
Not bad, considering she’s been swimming since preschool.
Looking back, what will she remember most about being a Stingray?
“It’s gone by really fast, there’s been a lot of good memories over the years,” she paused for a second, before she came up with an answer:
“I’ll probably miss bugging Donna and David during practice the most.”