The Brainerd 200-yard medley relay team posed in the cool-down pool after their preliminary race Tuesday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The team of Jocelyn Jones (left), Robyn Wernberg, Brianna Elg and Jessica Reese clocked a time of 1.54.70 in Wednesday's finals.John Pedersen photo
The Brainerd Warriors 200-yard medley relay didn't even earn All-Central Lakes Conference honors this season.
Now it can say it's the 11th-best relay in Minnesota.
The team of Robyn Wernberg, Jessica Reese, Brianna Elg and Jocelyn Jones raced to a time of 1:54.70 in the finals of the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet Tuesday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Brainerd swam 4/10ths of a second faster than it went in Tuesday's preliminaries when it qualified 15th.
"It was unbelievable," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said of being seeded 22nd entering the meet and placing 11 places lower. "We were just hoping we would get (to state).
"On the first night we were trying to crunch the numbers, trying to keep track of all the heats to see if we made it. We thought we were 17th. We were disappointed we didn't make it. We were thrilled when we made it, even more thrilled when we moved up. It was amazing."
The relay finished third in the conference meet but stormed back to win the Section 8 title and qualify for state.
Brainerd's Jessica Reese surfaced during the second leg of the 200-yard medley relay at the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet Tuesday. Reese and her teammates finished 11th in Wednesday's finals.John Pedersen photo
"It was kind a of struggle in the middle of the season," Anderson said. "(The relay was) just getting its brains beat out in a few meets. But the girls trained hard all season. They're tough mentally, which is what it takes.
"I'm extremely proud of them. This is what makes coaching worthwhile."
Wernberg led off with the backstroke, Reese followed with the breaststroke, Elg swam the butterfly and Jones anchored with the freestyle leg.
"Robyn had a great first leg," Anderson said. "It's been her goal to break 30 seconds, and she did, with a 29.90 split, so we knew we were in good shape. That had us in the thick of things.
"Jessica had probably the fastest breaststroke in the heat. She made up a lot of ground, as she usually does. Brianna had another outstanding split. She kept us right in there. Jocelyn had probably the best 50 free of her life, considering it was the last time she will ever swim for us. She went like 25.3. That's really fast."
Only Jones graduates from the relay. Elg is a junior, Wernberg a sophomore and Reese a freshman.
"We've got three pieces of it coming back," Anderson said. "Jocelyn will be really hard to replace, but I think the girls are already looking ahead. They would like to be in the top eight group and get a medal down here."
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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