ALEXANDRIA The Elk River Elks and Brainerd Warriors have waged some epic battles in various athletic activities through the years.
Girls' swimming and diving is beginning to add several chapters in the storied rivalry between the schools.
Last year, the Warriors shaded defending champion Elk River by 8.5 points, winning the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last event of the meet, to capture the Section 8, Class 2A championship.
On Saturday, at Discovery Middle School, it was the Elks' turn to secure the section title, winning eight of the 12 events and outscoring Brainerd 530 points to 516.5.
The teams exchanged the lead through six events. Brainerd then seized and maintained the advantage until two events remained, the 100-yard breaststroke and 400 free relay.
In the breaststroke, the Elks finished 1-2-6-7 and Brainerd went 3-8-12 to give Elk River a 496-476.5 lead on the scoreboard. The Warriors won the final relay but it wasn't enough to overcome Elk River.
"We had it figured, going into the meet, that they were 20 points better than us," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said, "and that was without taking diving into consideration. We roughly estimated they would get another 10-20 points on us there.
"We knew if we were going to win, (the meet) was going to be within 10, and we got within 14. We gave them a good run. I am proud of these girls. I've never had a team do this well, ever.
On Friday, the Warriors broke three school, two pool and two section records and qualified first in all three relays and in three other individual events.
In Saturday's finals, they won two relays and senior Cori Severson won two individual events.
"You can't expect to show up Friday and coast through the prelims and crank it up Saturday," Anderson said. "We like to come down and get after it (Friday). It does make it hard to come back (Saturday), but I think it's just as hard to come back if you coasted the first day. "All you can ask is that your athletes are ready to go and that they will race somebody. They race pretty good, don't they? You don't have to know a thing about swimming to watch them tear it up. They train so hard. We didn't have a bad practice all year. Every day, whatever I wrote up there (on the pool board), they did it. I'm proud of them, all of them."
Severson, a senior, was proud but a bit disappointed in her final section meet.
"I'm not going to lie," Severson said. "It was kind of disappointing, but there was nothing we could do. We swam as hard as we could. We had some great races both days, but Elk River just beat us."
Junior teammate Krista Rauen composed herself after an emotional finish to say she wasn't disappointed the Warriors finished second.
"We won last year by two points," Rauen said. "It came down to the last relay last year. This year, we were ahead almost the whole meet. It came down to breaststroke this year.
"We're not disappointed. We're happy. Our tears are more in sadness of our seniors being gone, but we're not done yet. We have state. Ten of us are going to state. That's more than we've ever had go. We're excited."
Final team scores 1-Elk River 530, 2-Brainerd 516.5, 3-Alexandria 275, 4-Bemidji 254, 5-Moorhead 171, 6-St. Cloud Tech 152, 7-St. Cloud Apollo 90.5
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