A race for an Olympic gold medal would have had a difficult time equaling the fervor.
Two unbeaten teams splashing after each other stroke for stroke.
Fans on the edge of their seats.
Every swimmer, diver and coach on the pool deck on their feet, screaming at an eardrum-rattling level.
When the waves had subsided, the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm had secured a 95-91 victory over Brainerd, snapping the Warriors' Central Lakes Conference win streak at 29 dual meets, a streak dating back to Oct. 14, 1999.
"For them to come in here and beat us in this pool, that's quite a feat," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said.
"Our girls stepped it up," Anderson added. "We had great swims all the way down. Sauk Rapids, to their credit, stepped it up too."
It was the final home meet for 24 Warrior seniors, who have stepped up to help Brainerd win three conference titles and one section championship during their tenure. The seniors have lost only three meets in their careers, all by 95-91 scores.
"It's disappointing we lost," Warrior senior Christina Roberts said, "but I think everyone went out there and swam the best they could. I'm proud of our team for stepping up to a team like this. It's sad we lost our last home meet but what can you do?
"We had been thinking about (going undefeated) because of this meet but we hadn't focused on it. It was not our main focal point of the season, but it was everyone's goal to do it."
The meet was decided in the 200-yard freestyle relay where the Storm beat Brainerd by 2/10ths of a second. The Warriors needed to finish first and third and wound up second and third.
Sauk Rapids' Kelsey Corrigan won the backstroke and teammate Danielle Helmin paced the breaststroke to put the Storm ahead 91-81 with only the 400 free relay remaining. Needing to finish first and second to tie the meet, Brainerd finished first and third.
"I knew the meet was over, the girls didn't," Anderson said of the last relay. "The best we could have done was go 1-2, which would have made it a 93-93 meet. At that point a tie would have been all right."
The Warriors' individual winners included Roberts in the 200 free.
"Christina wasn't supposed to beat that girl," Anderson said. "She stepped it up big time. And, she was second in the 100 free (57.63), a full second faster than she has swam all season. She's just huge in these big meets."
Brainerd's Brianna Elg paced the individual medley.
"There was a little strategy there," Anderson said. "I thought we could go 1-2-3. They pulled somebody out of another race to put her in there, but Brianna still beat her. That was a huge turnaround for us."
The Warriors' Jenny Wentworth won the 500 free. Teammate Erica Campbell was runner-up at 5:49.90.
"The story in the 500 was Erica swam the 100 fly and 500 free, they're about 10 minutes apart," Anderson said. "That's kind of like running the 400 meters after just running the 180 high hurdles. Erica was dead. To go that time was incredible."
The same can be said for the Warriors' entire senior class.
Sauk Rapids 95, Brainerd 91
200 medley relay -- 1-Sauk Rapids 1:58.7; 2- Brainerd (Krystal Halverson, Emily Dunphy, Erica Campbell, Amanda Bateman) 2:00.93; 3- Brainerd (Robyn Wernberg, Dana Hanson, Brianna Elg, Jocelyn Jones); 5- Brainerd (Katie Viau, Emmy Schindler, Jessica Baker, Iris Stadler)
200 freestyle -- 1-Christina Roberts (B) 2:06.59, 3-Jenny Wentworth (B), 5- Kelsey Boran (B)
200 individual medley -- 1- Elg (B) 2:31.11, 3- Katie Schindler (B), 4- Dunphy (B)
50 freestyle -- 1- Alyssa Baltes (SR) 26.58, 3- Jones (B) 26.98, 4- A.Bateman (B), 5- Kara Rutman (B)
Diving -- 1- Brooke Johnson (SR) 224.95 points, 4-Lauren Trapp (B) 181.50, 5- Macala Campbell (B), 6- Megan Street (B)
100 butterfly -- 1- Dani Ree (SR) 1:06.37, 2- Elg (B) 1:06.79, 3- E.Campbell (B), 6- K. Schindler (B)
100 freestyle -- 1- Steph Thayer (SR) 57.48, 2- Roberts (B) 57.63, 4- A. Bateman (B), 5- Halverson (B)
500 freestyle -- 1- Wentworth (B) 5:44.12, 2- E. Campbell (B) 5:49.90, 4- Boran
200 freestyle relay 1- Sauk Rapids 1:41.56, 2- Brainerd (Jones, Roberts, Wentworth, A.Bateman) 1:46.22, 3- Brainerd (Jenny Peltoma, Rutman, Elg, Maggie Boland), 5- Brainerd (Heather Smith, Connie London, Jackie Sellnow, Gracie Kelm)
100 backstroke -- 1- Kelsey Corrigan (SR) 1:05.36, 2- Halverson (B) 1:06.54, 3- Wernberg (B), 5- Cara Wiltse (B)
100 breaststroke -- 1- Danielle Helmin (SR) 1:13.35, 2- Hanson (B) 1:16.64, 5- Dunphy (B), 6- Boland (B)
400 freestyle relay -- 1- Brainerd (E.Campbell, Roberts, Halverson, Wentworth) 3:53.48, 3- Brainerd (Peltoma, Jones, Rutman, Wernberg) 4:03.41, 5- Brainerd (Emily Olson, Brittany Jurek, London, Mardi Billman)
Conference -- B 6-1, SR 7-0. Overall -- B 7-1, SR 10-0. Next meet -- Brainerd at Rocori 6 p.m. Tuesday.
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