SWIMMING: Engelkes leads Stingrays at Midwest RegionalsMINNEAPOLIS — For some reason, Kari Engelkes could never cut her times at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
MINNEAPOLIS — For some reason, Kari Engelkes could never cut her times at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
That all changed on Saturday, when the senior saved her best for last.
Engelkes swam for two personal records and took home a pair of ribbons from the YMCA Midwest Regional swim meet, pacing the Worthington Stingrays with an eighth-place finish in the Girls 18 & Under 50-yard freestyle and a 12th-place performance in the 100 freestyle.
Nearly 1,200 of the top swimmers from 79 YMCA teams across Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois competed at the meet.
“I was psyching myself out years before, and finally this year I just kind of put that aside,” Engelkes said. “I think the big difference was that it was my senior year and I wanted to go out with a big improvement.”
That’s exactly what she did when she trimmed nearly one-and-a-half seconds off of her 200 freestyle for a 19th-place finish.
Engelkes was just getting started.
In the 50 freestyle she set another career mark at 26.32 seconds and claimed eighth place.
She rounded out the regionals and her Stingray career with the 12th-place finish in the 100 — a race she came into seeded 21st.
So much for those daunting U of M waters.
“She’s always had a problem swimming at that pool up at the University; it always seems she can never improve her times (there),” Damm said. “This was maybe the first time ever she has done that, so she was pretty happy to end her season that way.”
Engelkes wasn’t the only one swimming her last meet as a Stingray.
The same went for her teammate Dave Sorensen, who crossed 52nd in the Boys 18 & Under 50 freestyle and 69th in the 100 freestyle.
For the Boys 14U division, Tim Skog swam for 25th place in the 50 freestyle before knocking a seventh of a second off his 100 freestyle to finish 35th in 25.77.
At this point in the season, Damm said personal bests are hard to come by.
“It comes down to being a perfect race to better your times, all the time,” the coach said. “Everything’s got to click to get your best times.”
Oliver Wolyniec earned 35th place in the 50 breaststroke (Boys 12U). Wolyniec was the sole Stingray to swim in a non-freestyle race.
Sarah Janssen, fighting through a sore knee, took 106th in the Girls 14U 50 freestyle.
“I don’t know how much pain she had, but you could tell it bothered her,” Damm said. “She still put out a real good performance.”
Madison Neuberger, the Stingrays’ youngest competitor to qualify for the regional meet, finished her 50 freestyle in 31.86 seconds — which was good enough for 123rd place in the Girls 12U age group.
“They all worked hard this season, and it showed when it came to regions,” Engelkes said of her teammates.
Now that Engelkes is done, it will be up to those younger Stingrays to lead the team.
Does she have any advice for them?
“To have fun, and make sure to work hard,” she said. “That’s the whole point about being on swim team.”