MINNEAPOLIS -- Abby Palmer wandered into uncharted waters Friday in the Class 1A state swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
The Staples-Motley/Verndale/Wadena-Deer Creek junior swam the third-fastest time in the 200-yard individual medley at 2:15.75. She is the first Cardinal swimmer ever to make the championship heat at the state meet.
"This is a first for the program to get somebody in that medal round," said Cardinals coach Bruce Onischuk. "There's nobody more deserving than Abby. She's worked so hard.
"We talked before the race and basically what we wanted Abby to do was to take it out hard and she did that. Abby had to make up a little bit on the backstroke, and a little on the breaststroke, but she did that and was tough on the end. I told her to swim her race, swim hard and see where you end up."
Palmer admitted she didn't know what to expect come race time but knew if she swam her race, the rest would take care of itself.
"I kind of had a bad attitude coming into the 200 IM," said Palmer. "I really wanted to drop time and I didn't know if I'd be able to. I just went out there and took it out hard. I knew that I had some good competition to race against and I knew I had to get my butt in gear. It all happened the way I wanted it to."
Palmer also made it to the second day in the 100 freestyle, finishing 11th with a time of 55:48 and will swim for the consolation championship.
The Cardinals had another swimmer competing in her first state meet. Junior Britta Binek raced in the 200 freestyle, finishing at 2:06.21 for 17th place, one spot shy of the consolation finals.
"Britta swam a good race," said Onischuk. "This is only her first year swimming in an individual event. Sometimes it's a stepping stone and I think she'll come back here next year and do OK."
Also competing in the state prelims was the Cardinals' 200 free relay team of Binek, Abby Palmer, Anne Palmer and Kendell Spar. The team finished 24th with a time of 1:45.50.
As far as winning an individual championship, Onischuk believes Abby Palmer is right where she wants to be entering Saturday's finals.
"Abby's right there," Onischuk said of Palmer's chances. "It's pretty close and it's my guess that the people in that heat will be fully rested. We don't have the luxury of that so we're just hoping that Abby will just go on pure adrenaline and the fact that she's in the finals. If she swims well, who knows?
"Abby's focus right now will be to hang in with the leaders as long as she can. Ideally, we'd love to have her hold her spot or move up. I can tell her what to do but she's going to have to do it."
Palmer also knows she's right in the mix for a championship and agrees with her coach as to what she will have to do in order to accomplish her dream.
"I'm looking to keep my spot and take third or better," said Palmer. "I'll just take it out hard and hope to God that I have something left. Winning a state championship was never really a goal this season, but now that I'm here I'd love to have it."
Class A prelims Friday
200 freestyle -- 1-Lauren Bergstrom (Benilde-St. Margaret's) 1:55.09, 17-Britta Binek (S-M/V/W-DC) 2:06.21.
200 individual medley -- 1-Lindsay Wegner (Hutchinson) 2:14.15, 3-Abby Palmer (S-M/V/W-DC) 2:15.75.
100 freestyle -- 1-Kelly Hyatt (Shakopee) 53.99, 11-Abby Palmer (S-M/V/W-DC) 55.48.
200 freestyle relay -- 1-Red Wing 1:40.74, 24-S-M/V/W-DC (Binek, Kendell Spar, Anne Palmer, Abby Palmer) 1:45.43.
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