Fallon Ryan and Beth Etterman are indications that the Brainerd Warriors swimming and diving team has a bright future.
Ryan, only a freshman, has qualified for this week’s Class 2A state meet in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles. Etterman, just a sophomore, will compete in diving.
“We’re losing five seniors who placed at the section meet, that’s a lot of points we will have to make up,” Warriors head coach Dan Anderson said, “but definitely, we have some very strong young swimmers and divers.”
Ryan is seeded 23rd in the 200 and 18th in the 50. Divers are not seeded at state.
At the Section 8-2A meet, Ryan was runner-up in both of her events. She churned out a school-record time of 1:59.22 in the 200 free and broke her school record with a 5:19.50 clocking in the 500 free.
Anderson said five girls were contending for the 200 title and Ryan was the top qualifier in prelims. Katie Schmitz of St. Michael-Albertville won at 1:58.53.
“Fallon was the fastest qualifier but we knew she had to swim faster,” Anderson said. “We told her to keep an eye on the St. Michael-Albertville girls in the outside lanes, and the girls on either side of her in the middle of the pool.
“Basically, it was kind of a 4-person race for probably the first 100 yards. The third 50, Fallon and a Maple Grove girl pulled ahead of one girl. (Schmitz) was way out there and ahead of both, so it was a battle for second. It was dead-even after the final turn, their flips were identical. Fallon beat her by 3/100ths of a second. You couldn’t tell with the naked eye who won.
“Fallon is so tough. She seldom gets beat at the end of a race.”
In the 500, Eryn Pettyes of Maple Grove won at 5:18.52.
“It was more of the same, only the torture lasted longer,” Anderson said. “It was up and down the pool and four girls were dead-even. Actually, the fourth one dropped off, (Pettyes) put on a little run and got a body length on Fallon and (Schmitz). They kept going up and down the pool. You couldn’t tell as they sprinted to the finish but Fallon touched her out by a 10th of a second.
“It was typical Fallon fashion. She had the fastest last split of anyone in the race. That’s kind of what she does. She has the ability to kick it down.”
Etterman will be the fourth diver competing in Thursday night’s prelims, which will feature 32 divers.
She follows her sisters, Tiffany and Katy, one of whom qualified for the last three state meets. Diving coach Mary Streiff believes Beth has an opportunity to place in the top eight.
“She’s been at the University of Minnesota, she’s been to diving camps, she’s watched Tiffany and Katy, now it’s her shot,” Streiff said. “It was cool to watch Tiffany and Katy in the stands at the section, watching Beth.
“Beth had a big smile on her face when she knew she had made it to state. Her question (Tuesday) was, ‘Do you think I have a shot at the podium (top eight)?’ That’s what she’s eyeing, which is fabulous.
“For Beth, it’s not good enough to just be there. She wants to be standing on the podium. Her goal is a lofty goal but as a sophomore is she capable? Yes, I think she is.”
But Streiff wants Etterman to take it one dive at a time.
“Her first goal is to dive into the top 16,” Streiff said, “but I don’t want her thinking podium before she gets top 16. She’s set herself up with a good preliminary round, the first five dives. She’s got a steady semifinal round, dives 6-7-8. Then hopefully she’ll be in the top 16 and dive her way to the podium in the finals.”